Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
The Bubonic Plague (also known as the Black Death because of the characteristic spots that showed up on the victim’s skin days before he died from the disease) spread like wildfire throughout Europe during the 1300s. Each victim the plague claimed only lived a couple of days before he succumbed to its ravages. Doctors quit treating patients; lawyers stopped writing wills for those infected; even priests no longer administered last rites, all for fear of the disease that could soon leave them buried in a wooden box. Many people were even left unburied because the undertakers themselves were scared of the plague. In just a few short, over twenty-five million people (roughly one-third of the entire population of Europe) had died. It was not until officials started cleaning up the cities that they were able to eradicate the rats infested with the fleas that carried the deadly disease, thereby greatly reducing the inhabitants’ chances of catching the Black Death. Nonetheless, the plague’s devastation had left families torn apart, labor shortages throughout Europe, and fear in the hearts of all.
Sadly, the same devastation often befalls the spiritual lives of individuals in a youth group. When the culture in a youth group is one of worldliness and sin, many teens die spiritually before they even have had a chance to serve God. The Black Death of rebellion sweeps through the youth group and leaves a group of teens who cannot stand authority, who balk at reproof, and who are separated from God in its wake. Often, only a few of the “cool” teens are infected with the plague, but it soon spreads to all those who want to be like them. Before long, there are no teens that are living right, and the apathetic attitude rules the crowd. That lifestyle often so permeates the youth group that one class after another comes in, goes through, and leaves the youth group after graduation the same way that all those before them have headed out into the world with no life spiritually.
The great news is that that culture can be changed. It only takes one or two bold teens who will go against the crowd, clean up their own life, and determine to stand for what is right. Others will see it and want what they have. Before long, the culture has changed and, where once was a youth group full of sin infected young people, in its place is a spiritually alive and useful group that will accomplish much in the service of God.