Youth and family ministry conference focuses on discipleship

For Immediate Release
March 2, 2001

For more information contact:

Tom Craig, Director of Media and Community Relations

Thousands of teenagers are crammed in a prison cell just waiting for the war to end so they can go home. They can't help secure the victory because they are prisoners of war. They can only sit and wait. Not exactly a pretty picture.

But it's the picture Rick Atchley painted at Abilene Christian University's Conference on Youth and Family Ministry last week to illustrate his point that Christian teen-agers are not progressing toward spiritual maturity.

"We've got kids on the winning side of the war making no difference at all," Atchley said.

Atchley, minister at Richland Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, spoke on discipleship, which he defined as an intentional pursuit to act like Jesus, at the conference focused on purposeful ministry.

Using the metaphor of working out, Atchley gave youth ministers three principles to encourage Christian teen-agers to progress in maturity.

The first principle was to realize that God saved Christians to get them in shape.

"There is nothing that can happen in your life that God can't work through to make you look more like him when it's finished," Atchley said.

The second principle is to understand that the importance of spirituality has been under emphasized in churches.

"We don't expect radical change into the image of Christ. We expect attendance," Atchley said.

Atchley emphasized that ministers need to communicate that it's possible for ordinary people to live extraordinary lives and not settle for less.

He also said the greatest threat to teen-agers is not that they will reject the Christian faith, but that they will settle for a flabby version of it.

The cure is to ask teen-agers who they most want to be like.

"If I'm not morphing into Jesus, it's because I want something more than Jesus," Atchley said.

The third principle is to help teen-agers undertake a plan to give their salvation a workout.

"You don't partner with God in justification, but you do play a role in your growth," Atchley said.

To become more of a disciple of Jesus, teen-agers need help developing their disciplines.


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Last update: March 2, 2001
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