A Firsthand Experience
H. Edwin Young
A survey was taken recently, a cross-section of various churches in America. And it was decided that in the average church there are at least four distinct groups. The first group are those who are 70 years of age and older. This group, said the surveyors, represent those in the church who personally know Jesus Christ. They came up in an era when the Bible was believed, the Bible was proclaimed, an era in which they personally received Christ as Savior and Lord and now this experience has increased and grown in reality across the years. That's one group - those 70 and over. The second group in the average church are those who are over 50. The sons and daughters of the first group. They are good people, moral people, church people, supportive people, they go to church, they participate in the activities, they know all the words and all the phrases and all the words of pious unction and praise - but this second group, by and large, have never personally met Jesus Christ. In the average church there is a third group. The sons and daughters of the second group. They belong to the church, but they have only a third-hand experience, a third-hand encounter with God - and therefore the church to them is like any other institution, any other civic organization. They say they believe in God but they have no first-hand knowledge of the Lord. And therefore, it is this third group that you see in their lives, a hollowness, a loneliness, an emptiness and sometimes even a desperate, desperate frustration.
But, said the surveyors, there is a fourth group in the average church and this group is made up of the young people. And they look at their Mother and they look at their Father, who are living on a third-hand experience with God, and they have seen the hypocrisy and the emptiness and the shallowness and the nothingness as far as God is concerned personally in the lives of their parents. And this young generation says, " ...
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