Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for Youth Ministry

My wife has an acquaintance who told her they left their church over philosophical differences regarding youth ministry. Her teenager asked the youth pastor why everything they did was always centered on food, fun and foolishness. Why could they not have some substantive Bible study and instruction? Why is the entire program so grossly focussed on silliness?

His response was disturbing. He said that’s not what youth ministry is all about. The kids "get their fill" of Bible in plenty of other places. They don’t want to come here for that. They want to have fun. That’s how you build a youth program.

After that, her teenager was told not to come back to the youth group. When she discussed the incident with the church’s pastor, she was told that she just had different ideas about youth ministry so they left and found another church.

Roy Ingle is a blogger who calls himself, “The Seeking Disciple.” He posted a very insightful and introspective blog titled, "Errors I Made In Youth Ministry“ that is really worth reading.  In fact, if your church has a youth pastor and a you have a teenager, you should read the whole article.

In it he makes this shocking statement. “(one of my failures) in my first stint as a youth pastor was thinking that I could actually preach on holiness, repentance, and perseverance in the faith without offending the adults who merely wanted numbers. The deacon board of the church I was at wanted results. The bottom line was money. The lost parents bringing their lost teenagers wanted me to straighten out their rude teenagers without asking any price to be paid by the parents. The church board wanted pizza parties, camps, lock-ins, and retreats aimed at having fun and keeping the parents tithing. So I quit.”

Wouldn’t we all love to have a youth pastor like that? Well, in reality, probably not.

A pastor friend of mine who worked in youth ministry years ago shared a similar concern that he had for some of the rebellious young people in his charge. He said that they were so antagonistic to any kind of Christ-centered ministry that their very presence in the group was destructive and inimical to the spiritual growth of the group. And he found himself spending far too much time and energy “chasing after the chasers” that he neglected the very ones who hungered for solid, biblical instruction.

When he realized the negative affect their influence had on the group, he switched gears, minimized the juvenile foolishness that attracted the troublemakers, and started to focus his ministry efforts on Christ-centered teaching and discipling young people to serve God.

That plan was the beginning of his demise in that church. Several of the parents of the renegade bunch were long-time members with influence, positions, and clout in the church and they wanted their children to be entertained and engaged. When their kids stopped attending church, they blamed the youth pastor. Shortly afterward he was terminated and replaced by a youth pastor who would cater to their children’s wants rather than their needs.

Another post worth reading is, "The Biggest Mistakes I've Made In Youth Ministry."
And for a very unconventional but well-developed, responsible, and bibliocentric philosophy, read "Our Philosophy of Youth Ministry" at Family Ministries.

2 comments:

Stan McCullars said...

Strange now that I think about it.

Jesus told us to make disciples...
NOT to entertain hooligans.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

Hey its good to hear from you again Stan.