Reaching out to everyone in God’s family and expanding beyond the comfort zone is one of the greatest challenges facing teenagers. Each year in the Pacific Northwest, we hold an activity that features a luncheon, games and fellowship hosted by graduating high school seniors. Their objective is to prepare, serve and enjoy the food and fellowship with seniors aged 55 and older from local congregations.
One recent high school graduate sent a note to one of our activity coordinators: “I just wanted to say thanks for the activity you organized! It went better than I ever expected, and I actually had a ton of fun talking to the elderly” said the 18-year old student. The activity ran longer than expected as the students and seniors shared life experiences.
“This activity has given me more confidence and willingness to be attentive towards the seniors, and I’m definitely going to take advantage of this experience in applying it at services and hopefully at Armstrong College.”
A friend who has friends must show himself friendly (Proverbs 18:24). This cannot be accomplished by our own power; we need higher help. The wise King Solomon wrote, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Do you need to break out of your clique? You can do it—but how?
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14).
God calls you holy! Sanctified means set apart for a holy, divine purpose. We can’t approach this subject from a carnal perspective. There are plenty of extroverts in the world who are unafraid to speak to others, elderly or young. Yet their motive, all too often, is to get rather than to genuinely give.
There is only one church that has had revealed to it, understands, and teaches God’s perspective on human relations. Mankind has built his own civilization founded upon an upside-down marriage, which produced a son who murdered his brother (Genesis 3:6, 4:8).
In a world held captive to Satan’s broadcasts of selfish vanity, how can you overcome and reach out to all age brackets of God’s family? Perhaps the most prevalent sin today is ingratitude. To break away from our cliques and create character-building communication requires we first express our thankfulness to God for His innumerable blessings. He is eager to communicate with us at all times.
King David gratefully wrote, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2).
Mr. Armstrong so often wrote and spoke about God’s law of love as an outflowing, giving way of life—of helping, serving and sacrificing with a daily approach of outgoing concern one toward another—rather than Satan’s way of get. Christ Himself said, “[I]t is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
During the last year of Mr. Armstrong’s life, he received the collective attention of the world elite at the 40th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the United Nations. During the June 1985 anniversary event, “Mr. Armstrong, as one of those present at the original conference, was seated at the head table,” reported the July 8, 1985 Worldwide News. At the various functions, he met and talked with many of the 131 diplomats representing 99 countries.
At one point, the entire assembly honored him with a standing ovation as the one man who had visited more world leaders than any other man alive. This was a shining moment in the recent history of God’s true Church.
Think about that. Mr. Armstrong was in his 94th year—functionally blind, deaf and suffering from a weak heart. Yet, with the dawn of each day, he knelt down and prayed to God for His strength and inspiration to serve the world’s leaders with His good news of the gospel (Matthew 24:14).
He met with emperors, kings, queens, princes, princesses, presidents, prime ministers, ambassadors and diplomats. Consider his prayerful preparation for such conversations.
Pray about how to fellowship and listen to others. When approaching people of diverse ages, races or cultures, prepare to ask questions and listen patiently. Effective communicators take a genuine interest in others.
Set a goal to speak to somebody new each Sabbath. Look them right in the eyes and give them your full attention. Ask them about how God reached them: Was it through the Plain Truth, World Tomorrow, Philadelphia Trumpet or Key of David?
Tailor your conversational topics to their station in life. The Apostle Paul admonished us to become “all things to all men” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Be sure to develop a basic fund of knowledge about geography, history and cultures.
Communication is learning. To not expand beyond our comfort zones is to deny ourselves vital knowledge and education about others. The Prophet Hosea declared that the end-time Laodiceans are so focused on physical possessions and their own interests apart from God that He has prepared a special punishment for their teens.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).
These parents actually taught their teens to reject God’s Apostle and His family gospel. Mr. Armstrong was the most traveled apostle in Church history, interacting with more races, cultures and people of differing backgrounds than his contemporaries. There is much for us to gain and apply from that history.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).
Just 13 days after the United Nations conference in San Francisco, Mr. Armstrong traveled to the youth Summer Education Programs (sep) in Orr, Minnesota, and Big Sandy, Texas.
He addressed the campers, telling them about his recent visit to the 40th anniversary celebration of the United Nations. Thereafter, he spoke to the teen program administrators.
The July 22, 1985 Worldwide News reported, “Mr. Armstrong closed the meeting with a discussion of the importance of the Youth Opportunities United (y.o.u.) and Youth Educational Services (y.e.s.) programs. Of all of the people that we are commissioned to preach the gospel to, the most important are the young people, children of Church members. He said that the importance of opening lines of communication between children, their parents and ministers could not be overemphasized.”
Being an effective teen communicator for God requires open lines of communication with your parents and God’s ministry. Teens who refuse or dislike fellowshipping with other age groups also struggle in their communications with parents and the ministry. If this is you, then it is time to overcome.
That very month in the July 1985 Youth magazine, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “But if I should tell you that you were born to be a king, and a ruling king at that, would you believe it? Yet I can tell you on authority of the living Jesus Christ that you definitely were born for that very purpose.”
Think about the royal communication, conversations and fellowship you will lead in the World Tomorrow. Our life’s purpose on Earth today in God’s Church is to prepare to serve mankind in His Kingdom. To do so, we must become master communicators like God the Father and Jesus Christ.
Like Mr. Armstrong before him, God’s apostle in the final era, Mr. Gerald Flurry, has reminded teens of His royal promise to them. “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth” (Psalm 45:16).
The recent high school graduate we quoted at the start of this article was later accepted to Herbert W. Armstrong College. He concluded his statement to the activity coordinator with, “This activity is one of the best Armstrong College preparation activities I have taken part in personally and any high school senior could take advantage of. Again thanks for having us over and for everything you did in setting up this activity. It was awesome!”
Breaking away from his comfort zone changed his life. His vision became less about himself and more about education in God’s world of tomorrow. His perspective changed from focusing on self to focusing on service.
“For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:11).
Mr. Flurry shares this inspired, millennial perspective in The God Family Vision: “People will see their teachers in these institutions set up around the world. Maybe they’ll see them in a classroom, or on television via satellite transmission. Herbert Armstrong also set up Imperial Schools for pre-college students. It was to prepare them for Ambassador College. That was only done in a limited way, but it should be a great vision for the very elect today. We have to prepare our young people so they can go to college, and then, from college, go on to teach the world.”
It is time for you to reach out to everyone in God’s family, expand beyond your comfort zone, and become a royal communicator.