Thoughts on Today's Way of Youth Ministry
Phil Johnson posted an interesting read on poor youth ministry philosophy. He poses a point that I think is more than worthy to pose. I have wondered this myself and even made some efforts to communicate it to our youth leaders (not because I think they are guilty of poor youth ministry philosophies, but because it is helpful to be reminded of such things as this). Phil’s point is that many approaches to provide the party atmosphere for the youth ends up training them for an unexpected reality when they leave.
Read this piece from his blog:
Youth ministries (not all of them, of course, but the vast majority of squidgy evangelical ones) deliberately shield their young people from the hard truths and strong demands of Jesus. They tailor their worship so worldly youth can feel as comfortable in the church environment as possible. They squander the best opportunities of those formative student years by minimizing spiritual instruction while emphasizing fun and games. They let their teens live with the false notions that believing in Christ is easy, sanctification is optional, and religion is supposed to be fun and always suited to our liking. They fail to equip their high school students for the rigorous defense of the faith they will need in college. They neglect to integrate them as young adults into the adult community of the church.
This reminded me of a letter I sent to our youth ministry team about an article ran in a Christianity magazine. It gave statistics of college kids who were raised (and very active) in youth ministry at their local church. Once these kids were on their own and thinking for themselves and being questioned and questioning, they were convinced that Christianity was erroneous – so they abandoned the faith. The percentage of these to those who did not was very alarming. Without giving an exact (because my memory is failing me right now) it was a high percentage. It was more than two-thirds.
When more closely examined, they found out that it was because the youth were not taught deep truths. They were fed entertaining fluff with a hint of sound doctrine. They were baby-sat and not developed. They had fun, but now the realities struggle are upon them.
We tend to think that children don’t need the stuff that adults need, but they do. They are adults in the making – not children in the making. They need the deepness and complexities of Scripture. They may not understand it totally, but they will learn to. We should teach children to be adults not to love child-likeness. Make a child more like a child and you raise them to be old children. Raise them to be like godly adults that are grounded in God’s word and they will be pushing faith not being pushed by error.