AN ANALYSIS OF YOUTH LIFESTYLE IN CHURCH: A CASE STUDY OF CHRISTIAN YOUTHS IN SOME SELECTED CHURCHES IN YOBE STATE
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1.1 Background to the Study
Any genuine growth in any Christian society must include the youth.2 This is another reason why intelligent nations, countries, groups, and organizations prioritize youth development so that the future of such investments is never impromptu or blind.3 It is consequently critical in today’s Church to diligently train teenagers for the tasks they will inevitably confront in the future. Biblically, it states “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity …” 1Timothy 4:12. This is an admonition on the need to live a Holy and blameless life addressed to a young man, Timothy. But, premarital sex, insolent speech, materialism, ruthlessness, theft and violence are some of the common vices generally found among Christian youths today. The worst is that some of them are even part of the present day insurgence group called “Jama’a tul Ahlis Sunna Lidda Awati Wal-jihad” popularly addressed as “Boko Haram” which literally means “western education is forbidden.”
Youths from Potiskum in Yobe State Nigeria are not exempted from the above. David and Pat Alexander emphasized that:
“Salvation is God’s gift, but it carries with it the obligation to live and behave, from that point on, as God wants. This means deliberately discarding the old (selfish way of life), shedding former habits, and letting the new life change our thinking and remold our pattern of behavior.”
According to the Alexander’s view, supra, our salvation carries with it a responsibility for a new lifestyle; we are expected to change our thinking, remold our lifestyle, and to live a life of obedience to the word of God. Our Lord Jesus explained that:
Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beats against that house and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24 – 27).
The message, which our Lord Jesus passed across in the above metaphor of the wise and foolish builders, is clear. It indicates that every Christian, consequently a Christian youth, is a builder. Everyone is building his/her destiny while on earth. If our youths obey the Word of God and put it into practice, they are like a wise man who built his house on Christ – Rock (godly values). While disobedient youths are like a foolish man who built his house on Satan – sand (worldly lifestyle).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Today, a great percentage of our Christian youths are living a life of disobedience to the Word of God, they are copying the patterns of this world with dexterity. Today, the lifestyle of the youth is such that it is very difficult to have a distinction between Christian youths and of those who are not Christians. How can we change the perspective of our youth who are easily lured and enticed by worldly lifestyle? This research is vital because it aims at making an analysis of the Christian youths’ lifestyle, enlightening them and warning the victims of the dangers ahead.
Most organizations especially in church set up always want their youths to live and practice the godly lifestyles (character trait of Jesus), the absence of this brings a very big problem between the youths and the leadership of the church. In some instances, the youths are removed from position of leadership or placed on church discipline. This indicates that Christian organizations are after godly lifestyles that will lead to a very good behavior and achievement of its goals and objective.
In this regard, the researcher, an ECWA member for about forty seven (47) years, was brought up at a time when youth lifestyles was relatively good, and when the relationship between youth and church leadership was also good. This made it possible for the researcher to have an enormous burden regarding lifestyles of most of our youths in Church who are beclouded by this new age philosophy which is geared towards self-aggrandizement, hedonism, individualism, and self-confidence. This has led them into a life of sexual immorality, drug abuse, occultism, pride, disrespect, indolence, get rich quick syndrome, violence and so on. This study seeks to make an analysis of youth lifestyles with the aim of finding the causes, effect, and solution of the new age philosophy that is leading our youth towards worldly lifestyles rather than Christ-like life.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this research is on an analysis of youth lifestyle in church, using Christian youths in some selected churches in Yobe state. The specific objectives are:
- To establish what the Bible says about the Christian youth and godly lifestyles.
- To uncover the root cause(s) of moral degradation and eroding of our Christian values among the Christian youth.
- To discover the effects of copying worldly lifestyles.
- To proffer solutions and admonish the youth to return to Christian values.
1.4 Research Questions/Hypothesis
The following determining research questions are used to serve as a guide to the process:
- What are the root causes of the moral degradation and eroding of our Christian values among Christian youths?
- What are the effects of the influence on the youth and the society?
- How can the youth overcome these negative tendencies?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research is very significant because youths are the future of every organization especially the Church. Many, if not all church denominations in Nigeria have been affected by the change in the lifestyles of their youths. The researcher aims at digging the root cause, the effect and the appropriate way of solving the worldly lifestyles affecting our youth so that organizations, parents and youth will benefit from the research findings.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The area of youth study is a broad area that cannot be exhausted in this research work. For this reason, the research shall focus on what the Bible teaches about Christian youth and godly lifestyles, the root causes of moral degradation and eroding of our Christian values among Christian Youths, its effect on the youth and society, and how they can overcome these negative tendencies. On the other hand, this research shall focus on four churches in Potiskum only because of security challenges, time, and budgetary constraints. The researcher shall sample the opinion of some selected Christian youths in the following Churches in Potiskum, Yobe State: ECWA Goodnews, COCIN No. 1, St. Peters Anglican Church, and First Baptist Church through a questionnaire.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Many terms have been used in this work but few uncommon English terms are defined below. These definitions should be understood in their utility for our purpose:
Acculturation: “is the encounter between one culture and another or encounter between two cultures… it is of course, it is an encounter between two sets of symbols and conceptions, two different interpretations of experience, two social identities.”
Cult: “is any religious group which differs significantly in some one or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious groups which are regarded as the normative expressions of religion in our total culture.”
Culture: Culture “refer to the common ideas, feelings, and values that guide community and personal behavior that organize and regulate what the group thinks, feels and does about God, the world, and humanity.”
Culture Shifts: “occur not only because of outside influence, but also because of the invention of new ideas and products, which make old things and old ways obsolete.”
Diffusion: is derived from the word diffuse. Diffuse means “spread over a wide area”.
Disrespect: lack of respect for somebody or something.” It is also discourtesy or rudeness.
Drug abuse: “also called substance abuse or chemical abuse, is a disorder that is characterized by a destructive pattern of using a substance that leads to significant problems or distress.”
Hedonism: “is the philosophy that pleasure is the most important pursuit of humankind, and the only thing that is good for an individual.”
Individualism: is “a social or ethical doctrine stressing the importance of the individual rather than that of the group.”
Indolence: this is “the state of quality of being indolent… indolent means disliking exertion, lazy.”
 Kenneth Barker, The NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 1449.
 David and Pat Alexander, The Lion Handbook to the Bible (Sandy Lane West, Oxford, England, 1973) 606.
 Kenneth Barker, The NIV Study Bible, 1449.
 Aylward Shorter, Toward a Theology of Inculturation (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1994), 7.
 Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1996), 11.
 A. Scott Moreau, Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 252.
 Sally Wehmeier, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English. 6th Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 323.
 Wehmeier, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 337.
 Lawrence T. Lorimer, The New Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (New York, USA: Lexicon Publication, 2000), 493.
 Lorimer, The New Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, 494.
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