Yesterday, I blogged about Jesus and The Event. When linking it to my Facebook account, I entitled the the status “The failure of youth ministry.” Of course, I got a few “likes” and even a comment. Allow me to clarify:
Youth ministry, when focused on events, is a failure. Why? Because it creates the very attitude expressed by my student earlier this week. We go on an event, and we feel good. We want that feeling to continue. It does not, and our expectations are not met. Well, let’s examine “the event”…it could camp, a visit to a Christian college, mission trip, conference..whatever.
While at those events, we are generally spending our time surrounded by people that encourage us in our walk of faith. We are given devotionals to work through, have time dedicated to prayer and those devos, specific time set aside for the spiritual disciplines that many people strive for. We hear speakers that challenge us, and, to be honest, music that lifts our spirits. There is nothing wrong with any of those things. Basically, our lives are ordered around God. This is as it should be.
Then, we come home.
Our cell phones, favorite movies, video games and tv shows call out to us. Our friends and those that we are dating want to spend time with us. For those students for whom faith is of the least importance within the home, there is not even a feigned interest. However, I cannot tell you how many times that I’ve seen kids from Christian homes hop out of the van in our churches parking lot and not even be asked by parents “how’d it go?”.
Well, the most biblical thing that could happen would be that churches would simply fire every youth minister in the country. In case you missed it, I said, “the most biblical thing that could happen would be that churches would simply fire every youth minister in the country.” The church, the body of Christ made up of the Christians within would own their responsibility to the younger generation. Titus 2 would be our guides. The older women would teach the younger, and the older men would teach the younger. But, I’m going to be honest here. That’s not going to happen. Many in the “body of Christ” are way too interested in working, vacationing, saving, 401(k)’ing, remodeling their homes, taking it easy and remaining too self-absorbed in their own complacent lives to obediently obey God’s Word.
On equal par, biblically speaking, would be for Christian parents to take seriously their responsibility as laid out in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. This is a valid option. There are several things in the way:
- The church has failed to properly communicate that it is, in fact, the role of the parents and family to do this.
- The church has failed to equip parents in their role.
- Adults have relegated their role of personal discipleship to the church, it’s why much of what happens in a church building takes place on Sunday mornings, it’s why this program, above all else, receives the largest amount of focus as indicated by attendance and effort.
- Not every kids comes from a Christian home. But honestly speaking, not every kid that comes from a home that claims to be Christian is. For many in the West, Christianity is another thing to put on in the morning. It’s right up there with voting Republican. In fact, for many Americans, it’s the same thing.
- In the end, like everything else in our culture, we leave discipleship up to “the professionals.” We’ve handed the discipleship of our kids over to the “professionals”. This whole “read your Bible thing” with our kids is simply too hard. “What if they ask a question?” Therein lies the problem, our own discipleship is lacking, like Paul says, “many should be teachers” but simply have better things to do.
- So, we hire youth ministers. They are the ones in tune with youth culture, they are the ones that can watch our kids and will entertain them. That way, we can blame those that we’ve given responsibility FOR (yes, I said for) when our kids don’t want to attend. Parents don’t like youth ministry when it’s too boring. Parents don’t like youth ministry when it’s all games. Parents don’t like it when youth ministry reaches out to “those” kids. Parent’s don’t talk to their kids about being an example to “those” kids when they come. They don’t encourage them to read their Bibles or other things to be studied. Parents don’t like it when there are requirements for mission trips. Parents don’t like it when the youth ministry schedule is too full, and they don’t like it when it’s too empty.
- Lastly, what many parents don’t do is communicate. They don’t respond (or even read??) to emails or webposts. They don’t tell youth ministers about significant events in the lives of their kids. They don’t come to parent meetings. And why? Because no one is going to “tell them how to raise their kids.”