Did You Go To Passion 2013? Here’s What Fyodor Dostoyevsky Would Say to You

Passion 2013 wrapped up in Atlanta last week. Passion, the conference to end all conferences for college-aged Christians, was attended by upwards of 60,000 young evangelicals and sends a host of amped up college students back to their campuses with renewed vision, passion and excitement for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

However, in this emotional experience, many come home feeling as if they have been immediately called to missionary work in dangerous parts of the world, or called to start some ministry as soon as possible. The younger generation often feels that older generations have not done enough in this or that and it is their generation’s job to change everything. These sentiments are all over the Facebook pages and posts of the Passion 2013 attendees and fans.

It’s a good thing overall that a young generation is seeking to make a difference for Jesus, even at the sacrifice of their life and comfort, and this youthful vigor is nothing new. Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote about this over 150 years ago in his masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov.

“These young men unhappily fail to understand that the sacrifice of life is, in may cases, the easiest of all sacrifices. They fail to understand that to sacrifice five or six years of their seething youth to hard and tedious study, if only to multiply ten-fold their powers of serving the truth and the cause they have set before them as their foal, is utterly beyond the strength of many of them.” (The Brothers Karamazov, Book I, Chapter V)

Tough words from the king of Russian literature, but tough words that, if heeded, would produce tenfold the impact upon the church and the world at large. I will never forget the advice given to me a few years back by an older, wiser friend who had just planted a church near my hometown. I, as an eager gotta-do-it-yesterday college kid was (and am) excited about church planting. But my friend said to me something to the effect of, “These are not your best years of ministry. Spend this time learning, listening and maturing”. This has stuck with me, and the burden of training, maturing and growing has been my passion, as of late.

If I may, I impart the same advice to the young, eager and undisciplined. Get under good leadership before you try to become good leadership. The church of the 21st century will be better for it.

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  • Jay

    You had me at Fyodor. An excellent point and well made. It also makes me feel better about languishing in school for another four years.

  • ” Get under good leadership before you try to become good leadership.”

    Very wise words indeed. The problem exists, however, that we have churches that have in the past been all too willing to let young people do the job of ministry and then give them no real support.

    How many small churches (and even large ones) just want somebody to run the youth program but provide no real mentoring to make it happen within a broader context of helping that young person mature? They just give it to them and expect them to make it happen.

    Or they go for the opposite extreme and unnecessarily limit the freedoms and responsibilities of young people (which is what you see happening ALL OVER in our American society- and what may be the reason why college students flock to Passion conferences and come home tired of being arbitrarily limited and therefore ready to charge hell with a water pistol.) These conferences whip young people up into a frenzy but are they concerned about what they’re setting them loose on?

    We need older middle aged and senior adult men and women stepping up and taking the initiative to help these young people do ministry the right way. Meaning, do it in such a way that they can do ministry without having to work a professional ministry job to do it.

  • I remember in Bible college listening to some students unhappy with the thought of spending four years in preparation for ministry. “The disciples in Jesus’ day didn’t spend four years in Bible college,” they’d say. I wanted to point out that the disciples in Jesus’ day *did* spend three years following Jesus around (“getting under good leadership” in the best possible way) before starting their ministry.

    Nathan’s comments remind me of David Kinnaman’s book, “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith.” He reports that many Christians age 16-29 feel that the church is overprotective (denying them the chance to have meaningful ministry or be meaningfully involved) and feel disconnected from older generations (since very few have meaningful relationships with people older than them at church). It’s made me realize (now that I’m in my thirties) that I don’t do enough to reach out to the younger crowd. It’s an excellent book; I’d recommend if if you haven’t read it yet.

  • “Tough words from the king of Russian literature, but tough words that, if heeded, would produce tenfold the impact upon the church and the world at large.”

    Doubtful! Seminaries produce young men and women who are great at theological debates but probably very bad at evangelism. Jesus called us fishers of men not readers of books. Just a thought!

  • Andrew, I would argue that seminary is not as vital as sitting under leadership and being discipled in the context of a local church. Seminaries serve an important function in training pastors but personal mentoring, shepherding and discipling in the relational context of the local church is critical. The academic, sharpened mind is important in understanding how and why to serve and it should not be neglected, especially by those called into pastoral service.