July 19, 2007

What Youth Ministry Lacks ...

I don't write a lot of critical bits on youth ministry for two basic reasons ... first, not being a full-time youth pastor means I'm not in a position to change things and, seocnd, I think there are too many people pointing fingers at what is wrong in church expressions and not enough cheering on the good that is happening.

Having said that, I found myself thinking about the "what could be" the other day while reading a provocative chapter in the book, Awakening Cry (yes, I've read it once again because I keep finding little nuggets like the one that follows):

The fact is that the Bible does not refer to our predominant model of youth groups but rather commissions us to develop discipling communities in every culture - which presumably includes youth.

The shortcoming of the [garden-variety] youth group is that it effectively baby-sits teenagers until they are considered old enough to become real members of the church. Consequently, the youth expressions of most churches are not included in membership, nor are they encouraged to break bread, baptize, tithe or operate as true church. The Ephesians chapter four ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are not generally cultivated or recognized in youth, and the approach to discipleship tends to combine the occasional [ski] trip with weekly talks on how to merely survive as a Christian.

This has obviously drifted a long way from the example of our youthful leader who gathered young people around him, entrusted them with the keys of the Kingdom, defied them to lay down their lives and commissioned them to take the nations as their inheritance.

In most youth groups faithless shoe-gazing has replaced faith-filled horizon scanning. But by failing to resource young people adequately and to take sufficient risks with them we exacerbate and extend immaturity along cultural rather than biblical lines.
Back at the beginning of this decade (around 2002) Charlene and I had moved to BC and were preparing to go and begin a multi-generational church in the midst of youth culture on Vancouver Island. We eventually had to step back from it because of some big bumps in our way that made us believe the idea was correct but the timing was off (with hind-sight, I now know that was indeed the case).

The paragraph above reminds me of those seeds that God had planted in our hearts ... it will be interesting to see when - and if - God decides to call them out to grow again. If He does, I'll hope the words from Awakening Cry will still be fresh in my mind.

1 comment:

john heasley said...

I really get the quote and what your saying there, I run a small youth group with my wife, and are struggling at this moment in turning it from babysitting/youth club to spiritual growth. We talk about a real God in a real world, I believe the young people should be living that.