No group on the planet is as vulnerable to peer influence as young people. While this is generally viewed as a negative, it can be made to work for us. Young people reach their friends for Christ. (In contrast, churches with no youth at all find it nearly impossible to begin a ministry to them.)

On the dock where fishermen unload and sell their morning's catch, observers often note that a bucket of crabs will be left unattended and without a cover. Ask the fisherman and he will show you something fascinating about crabs. Every time one tries to climb out of the bucket, the others pull him back. That's peer influence.

As a college sophomore, I was reached by a church with a strong youth ministry. In a matter of days, I went from knowing hardly anyone in the city to having a hundred friends my age. We did everything together -- Sunday School, mission trips, church banquets, after church socials. Nothing locks a young person into church like having a strong battery of friends who also love the Lord and are committed to His church.


Once or twice during those college years, when professors or my reading material caused me to question my Christian faith, the Scriptures, and even the existence of God, nothing pulled me back from the brink like looking around at the sharp men and women in my church who were devoutly following Jesus Christ. Before I learned how to study the evidence for the faith myself, these were my proofs that God is real and Christ is alive and the gospel is true.

In fact, as I compared the Christian men and women I knew with the typical miserable atheistic philosophy major or the professor who prided himself on his agnosticism, there was no question which I would prefer to model my life after.

The older adults in church usually have no clue that the next generation is checking them out, but they are. They're looking to see who's authentic, whether you have brought your brains into the Christian life or checked them at the door, and what your manner of life says about your faith in Jesus Christ.


Young adults are not stupid. They can see the church has problems.

However, as they think the matter through, they frequently come to the same conclusion as the Apostle Peter. When our Lord noticed the crowd leaving because they'd found His teachings difficult, Jesus said to the disciples, "Well, how about you? Will you go away too?"

Simon Peter said,"Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:66-68).

It's not as though the universe has presented us with a cafeteria of choices for life and eternity. Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

That one fact more than anything else may account for believers through the ages hanging tough with the Lord's church when times were hard, temptations strong, questions proliferated, and the enemy was active.

Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at Used with permission.

Publication date: April 24, 2012