Last week, there was a great comment on my post about Youth Ministry’s Illegitimate Children. Aaron Decker asks two great questions:
1) Are we doing evangelism because we want to add members to our church-organization, or because we truly rejoice in the new life we have in Christ, and want to share that joy with others? It has to be the latter. Any other motivation–to win converts, to add members, whatever–won’t work.
2) Are we doing youth ministry all on its lonesome, or do we have as our goal the real incorporation of our youth as full members of the whole body of Christ?
These questions should be asked by every church. I wish more ministers would ask these questions. While the questions are more important than the answers, I will try to give some answers as well.
Evangelism from a Biblical perspective brings good news. The change of focus from good news, to hell, to a church’s good news that they get more givers (money) becomes a problematic error in theology. I say theology only because the error comes from faulty beliefs.
If I could provide good news that was life changing, then I wouldn’t need God. Since I can’t, then the outcomes of the gospel have to be placed in God’s hands, not mine. When the church makes its goal to receive new converts, it drifts away from the gospel.
The imperative of the church has always been the work of Jesus in his Kingdom. The gospel isn’t a message of fire insurance. Jesus came to free people from sin and give life to those who are perishing. More then that, the life he gives is better than we can imagine. That’s good news. Anything else becomes suspect.
I teach 1 Peter 3:15 in all of my evangelism efforts.
Youth Ministry Ghetto
Every church I have served has had this problem. Maybe they all do. I personally have gotten comfortable with it, and that bothers me. The seclusion of teens in churches points to several issues of spiritual unhealth.
- Young adults aren’t real believers.
- Young adults can’t do anything of kingdom value.
- Parents should be the focus of youth ministry (a growing trend just as disturbing as any).
- Parents need surrogates to care for their children’s spiritual health.
- The church needs a mobile group that can do things for them to feel good about.
- The church needs a place to fence in all that craziness.
I could go on and on, but what really matters is that all of these are again misplaced or non-existent faith. If the Bible is true, then a lot of our heroes in the faith were young adults. From Timothy, to David, to Mary, you have to acknowledge that God uses young people to do his work. Any church that doesn’t realize that wastes valuable resources and misses part of God’s plan for his Kingdom.
The only solution I think will work is to give young adults the space to serve like any other member. Sure they may be less mature than some older members (or they may not), but they have the same call as any other believer. Any youth who has proven themselves able ought to be able to serve in leadership. They ought to be in any ministry in the church where their gifting is a good fit.
So here are two problems facing the future of youth ministry. They aren’t new. Hopefully with all of the attention being focused on the future of youth ministry, we will start to see new practices evolve that better the situation.