Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Frustration with Current Youth Ministry

I was at the Gospel Coalition a couple of months back. Lots of pastor's who love the Gospel; the incarnation, the sinless life of Jesus and his obedience to death on a cross as a penal substitution for our sins, His resurrection that triumphed over death and the grave and the fact that He is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf and that He will return again as King.That Gospel. Anyway, I met a few youth pastors, this is not a blog about them.

I felt a little bit like an outsider at this conference, although I was in a good percentage of the age bracket of those in attendance. Being in youth ministry and being a Calvinist (yeah I said it), proposes all kinds of challenges. Mainly because deep thinking and theology (of that kind) are not held in high regard within most youth ministry circles and the trendiness of youth ministry things are not looked at favorably among those who run in the "Gospel Coalition" circles. It seems to me that there are not very many Calvinistic/reformed leadership in the area of popular youth ministry. I have trouble bringing the world of Keller, Carson and Piper (for example) into youth ministry. I long for youth ministry to feel the weight of the Glory of God. And at the same time I feel like I don't have time to play around. Am I stretching my calling or do i need to suck it up and play a game or two?

I love to preach God's Word. I purposefully use the word preach because "teach" is not what I mean. I think there is an unspoken expectation in youth ministry to "teach" youth God's Word but don't preach to them. I have been "preaching" angrily on Sunday nights. My wife said that I have been saying, "you should" do this or that more than I have been salting my speech with grace. Some of that I admit was coming from a place of authority to call them to purity and accountability. But I wonder if sometimes I am too hard or bring heat when I should bring light.

This is my frustration: That there is the expectation that youth ministry should be fun and trivial and that young people cannot handle hard truths and commands from Scripture and meanwhile they are leaving our churches.

I am thinking out loud. Any thoughts?


Creitz said...

Preach the Word my friend. I'm with you...having worked on staff at a church where the youth ministry was attractional, I say, disciple those teens!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. This attitude about youth group is merely an outflowing of the average teen's outlook on life in general - merely to have fun. Preach the Word of God.

brianmetz said...

thanks, guys for reading and commenting. I appreciate your time.

dga said...

Continue to preach to our youth. The outcome will have lasting effect.

Anonymous said...

"Mainly because deep thinking and theology (of that kind) are not held in high regard within most youth ministry circles and the trendiness of youth ministry things are not looked at favorably among those who run in the "Gospel Coalition" circles"

That would suggest that perhaps each groups focus is off. There is a balance; both sides are failing at being in the world and not of it. Neither side will ever get it perfect.

I agree that much youth ministry has descended too deeply into culture to appeal and has watered down to the point where gospel truth is not taught and it is all about a warm fuzzy feeling.

Yet, particularly, the reformed movement in response to postmodern culture (and its warm fuzzy attitude that whatever you believe is right) has set out to enforce a "new orthodoxy" of Christianity. If you look at many churches that follow "reformed theology" you see statements of faith that appear to me as legalistic; filled with things that are not certainties and are well debated by "conservative theologians", eg views on predestination, Millennialism, Women, Spiritual Gifts etc.

To engage with society, and particularly youth, the church needs to stick to and agree on the basics that are clear in the bible. Perhaps this is where the EFCA does well with it's simple statement. It sticks to the basics and then creates a culture of debate around the non-essentials of Christian faith with this statement "In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, charity. In all things, Jesus Christ"

In my honest opinion from hearing things people in reformed circles say, and in reading open letters from reformed theologians, there is a lack of charity. Post-modern society sees that lack of charity as antithesis to Christ's teaching, and they would be correct. It just becomes another "denomination" to them. If they see that dislocation, why would they want to involve themselves in it.

To reach the youth, stick to the essentials wholeheartedly, and be prepared to discuss and at times agree to disagree on the non-salvation issues. For we do not judge, but are judged.

God Bless

Joe said...

Preach the word, brother.

My then 3 year old was able to understand Total Depravity and utter dependence upon the cross of Christ to save us from death and to God forever.

It wasn't because my son is super duper smart.

It was only by the will of the Father, the mercy of our great and powerful King and the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit can my begin to understand such things (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Anonymous said...

1 Corinthians 9:16 - "For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (ESV)