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Editor’s journey

Shirts and shoes required

SPRINGFIELD, MO. — Restaurants and department stores keep out unwanted customers by posting a sign: "Shirts and shoes required." Churches don’t post such signs, but some congregations wear their attitudes on their sleeves. They sanitize their sanctuaries with glares that say, "You’re not welcome here — you don’t fit."

These same congregations — of various denominations — wonder why they’re not growing. They don’t understand that their unwritten rules and unrealistic dress codes are "no trespassing" signs; and by turning people away, they turn the Holy Spirit away. The Lord will not bless a church where upholding personal tastes is more important than meeting the spiritual needs of people.

Some churchgoers petition God to build their church — even at the expense of others. But God does not honor their prayers because He sees their pride. They seek church growth more than saved souls. They endeavor to fill pews so they can gloat over Sunday morning attendance, year-end financial reports and giving records. Their church has become a possession rather than a mission.

Fortunately today’s young people have rejected this form of religious elitism and embraced the priorities and words of Christ: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28,29, NIV).

Young people interpret this to say, "Come to Jesus as you are with all your cares and problems and He will give you peace and rest." They’ve learned to look beyond a person’s hairstyle, history and habits and see the potential of the heart. They’re more interested in one’s soul than his or her brand of shoes or taste in music.

This generation of young people deserves to be cheered and trusted by the church. They hear enough jeers from the enemy. Today is National Youth Day in the Assemblies of God, so take a moment to tell a young person you’re grateful he or she belongs to your church. Hand them a copy of this magazine and tell them you’re praying for them.

You may not listen to contemporary Christian music and, as a result, this special youth edition of the Pentecostal Evangel doesn’t interest you. Nevertheless, take heart in knowing thousands of young people will be inspired by testimonies from Jars of Clay, Third Day, Sara Groves and The Katinas.

This edition is our way of saying to the young people of the Assemblies of God, "You are welcome here."

— Hal Donaldson

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