I have posted several times about my aversion to attractional style youth ministry. At some point, I realize that I would have to give a reason for that. No time like the present as my acquaintance and fellow Rooted friend, Dave Wright, just published this Brief History of Youth Ministry over at the Gospel Coalition. Dave summarizes the results of youth ministry in the past:
“Second, we incorporated an attractional model that morphed into entertainment-driven ministry. In doing that we bought into the fallacy of “edu-tainment” as a legitimate means of communicating the gospel. Obscuring the gospel has communicated that we have to dress up Jesus to make him cool.”
I couldn’t have said it better. The questions I get when debunking attractional ministry are usually something like, “Shouldn’t ministry attract people?” To that I say, “Absolutely!” But what should be the attraction? Should it be things or the Creator of things?
When we, for whatever reason, think that the gospel in itself isn’t attractive, we have lost sight of our faith. Using entertainment to dress up our faith or baiting outreach with gimmicks shows an individual loss of the need for the good news.
What I have seen in myself and others is a loss of acknowledgement. When I can’t see my own need for grace and forgiveness, I make the sacrifice of Jesus inadequate in my own mind. When that happens, I don’t think that sacrifice is enough and have to add to it. That is the essence of attractional ministry.
However, when I live in the tension of my own moral failings and realize my need for a savior, then the gospel is enough for me. In fact, it’s really the only thing that will satisfy.