Dave Niblock - Abundant Life Church

Do we ask too much or not enough of young people?

Dave Niblock is a youth pastor from Bradford’s Abundant life church. We invited him and young people from his church to address the Evangelical Alliance Council and they did a fantastic job of inspiring and challenging us all. As I listened to Dave the idea that most challenged me related to a survey of parent’s expectations of teenagers – one of them was “Make your own bed.” Dave pointed to the fact that the disciples were likely to have been teenagers and God called them to turn the world upside down or to the fact that Mark Zuckerberg changed the world while still at college, by inventing Facebook. It was stirring stuff. I was reminded of Dave’s words when I went to visit a church in Cambridge that wouldn’t allow leaders from the University Christian Union to use their data projector in case they broke it. These were some of the brightest students from (arguably) the finest university in the world – but they were not trusted by the church.
We underestimate the potential of young people to our peril – but equally you may remember a blog post a while back about unrealistic expectation for our young people. That we promise them they will all be world changers and then by the time they reach their twenties and they have debt, unemployment or if they are luck a moderately interesting job to deal with – the promises sound hollow.

What do you think – do we ask not enough or too much of our young people?
Do we promise too much or not enough for their life with God?

3 thoughts on “Do we ask too much or not enough of young people?”

  1. Kenda Creasy Dean (American Youth Pastor and academic) suggests that young people are searching for things to be passionate about, and that “if they can’t die for something, they won’t live for it” (I may be paraphrasing and I can’t remember which of her books it’s in, possible Practising Passion. But also recommend Almost Christian)

    I think our British culture can tend to infantilise young people long after they are capable of so much more, but we are so over-protective and fearful of the risks to children that we don’t allow them to be risk takers in any area of life and so we end up with adult children who are still at home in their 30s and a church that can’t allow them to get stuck in and make mistakes.

    Jesus was so good at letting a gang of youths loose on first century Palestine and letting them get things wrong as they lived the Kingdom alongside him.

  2. Hi Krish. Have been really enjoying these articles on young people and the church. Personally I think that what you wrote captures the balance of the moment well. That at one level we can’t expect teens to do anymore then excel at school and do very little the rest of the time, yet there are times, because we know that they want to be somebody, we tell them they can be the next Billy Graham. That ties in with the whole x factor culture.

    I wonder if one thing is to help them is to see that true greatness is humble service, and that to be truly great, and to get true joy then they go an be heroes for Jesus in their schools, their homes and their communities in that 1 Peter, Jesus like kind of way. When I was on team with Marcus Honeysett, he always used to tell us that living ‘normal’ Christian lives made us heroes and heroines for Jesus. And encouraged us to do that, in relationship with Jesus, filled with the Spirit, enjoying the love of the Father.

    However, I also think that we can get the YP to see that they can make a difference, in that ‘do hard things (harris brothers)’ kind of way. They really can make an impact for Jesus. That does mean that they are going to make a mess, but if someone hadn’t let me make a mess, then I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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