This article looks at some challenges at youth Bible study meetings.

Source: Una Sancta, 1990. 2 pages.


What do you think of when you hear the word "sabotage"? Most likely you start to think of spy stories, or of war situations where build­ings and railways are blown up, where all sorts of things are done to make life miserable. In war time sabotage is a favourite weapon to hinder the normal process of life so much that the enemy be­comes unable to keep on fighting. Sabotage is the means to wear out the enemy.

Now you may wonder what this has to do with young people. Well, young people can also become guilty of, or become the victims of, sabotage. This can happen for example at the weekly society meetings, or at the various study conferences where young people from various congregations get together. Such meetings are not always so easy. For such meetings to be a success there is the need for much work on the part of all those involved. Everyone knows, though, that meetings can be ruined, yes, they can be made into a miserable experience because of sabotage.

How does this sabotage take place? There may not be the actual placing of bombs to blow up the meeting room and all those in the room, but often all sorts of explosive devices are planted which blow the meeting to pieces. There is a great variety of saboteurs at work, each with his or her own knack for hindering a good discussion.

It really is amazing how many saboteurs are at work. For example, besides the introducer, which is essential for a good meeting, you often can find some negativists and pes­simists. They can be heard, muttering rather loudly under their breath, full of critique. There is no positive contribution at all, ex­cept unnecessary comments which soon begin to irk the others present. Everything is wrong. The Church is a lousy place to meet. Friday night is no good. The meetings always last too long. The president hasn't got a clue. On and on the muttering goes.

Then you have the hecklers. They also have all sorts of remarks to make. The words of the introducer or some other speaker always receive some comment. Perhaps the attempt is made to make every word of the discussion look totally silly and funny. After a while no one feels like saying anything anymore, for fear of hearing some other rude or crude remark.

Another feared saboteur is what could be called the ignoramus. Such a person can reduce a serious discussion to nothing in no time flat by what really is nothing but a to­tally ignorant remark.

And what about the "let's go have coffee" members. For them the meeting can’t be over soon enough. They want to get out of that room, away from the topic, so that other things can be talked about, like cars, girls/boys, sports, fashion, etc.

Also much feared are the corner-conver­sationalists. Somehow they have no word to say about the topic under discussion, yet their mouths never stop moving, busily engaged in rather loud whispered conversa­tion with about two or three neighbours round about, often accompanied by a few rounds of laughing and giggling.

Perhaps you can think of other saboteurs and their forms of sabotage. Clearly though, these forms of sabotage so often found in meetings do nothing for the meeting. It becomes rather difficult to have a good discussion. Society life becomes hindered. Angry faces appear.

What to do about all this? Should the saboteurs be asked to stay away? Well, that might be the easy way out, but it would be a loss to everyone involved, both societies and saboteurs. The solution is not for those who sabotage the meeting to stay home but to change their ways! We should never want to chase anyone away, but always draw them towards us!

Everyone indeed should examine him or her­self and honestly ask whether they are saboteurs or whether they are constructive members of the study society. Sabotage is destructive in the Church and kingdom of God. Really, sabotage is the work of the Devil, whose whole goal in life is to destroy what Christ is building up. The bottom line is this, that saboteurs are serving Satan rather than Christ.

To be a young person in the Church is a tremendous blessing. God in His grace has made known His way of salvation in Jesus Christ. Our God calls us to build with Him. Youth club is also a time to build, yes, to build each other up in the true faith. We need each other so badly so that we may be better able to fight against the Devil and all his sneaky attacks.

Sabotage of the kingdom of God is thus a terrible thing. What a relief, however, that we know of God's love in Jesus Christ. For, even if we have been guilty of sabotage, of trying to destroy the work of God, we can take refuge in the blood of His Son. That blood washes away even our greatest sins, just as that blood washed away the destruc­tive work of Paul, who at one time even per­secuted the Church of God. But, Christ also renews us by His Holy Spirit. That means that we may never continue as saboteurs. Through the Spirit we receive the strength to become builders in the kingdom.

Thus also when it comes to society life let us fight sabotage, which is only destructive. In­stead, seeking our strength in the Spirit, let us be constructive. That's only fitting for those who are called to serve the LORD their God "In Holy Array".

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