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Re: On the necessity of Youth Ministry

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  • bob_suden
    Hi Neil, You might find Kerry Ptacek s Family Worship: Biblical Basis, Historical Reality, Present Need at:http://members.aol.com/kptacek/fwb.html and Chris
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 24, 2005
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      Hi Neil,

      You might find Kerry Ptacek's Family Worship: Biblical Basis,
      Historical Reality, Present Need
      at:http://members.aol.com/kptacek/fwb.html
      and Chris Schlect's CRITIQUE OF MODERN YOUTH MINISTRY at:
      http://www.canonpress.org/pages/church.asp#critique
      speaking to the question. The answer, as you surmise, is no.
      cordially in Christ,
      Bob Suden


      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Neil Barham
      <jneilbarham@y...> wrote:
      > Dear Friends,
      >
      > My children are now of an age where I am beginning to learn a lot
      about "youth ministry." The lessons I am learning are raising more
      questions than answers.
      >
      > I am a member of a reasonably orthodox congregation in a
      reasonably orthodox reformed denomination. No, we aren't Super-
      Hyper-Ultra-Mega Hoeksemite Headcovering Exclusio-Covenanting Stone
      Your Kids Theonomic King James Only VanTil Only Home-School Only Or
      Be Burned At The Stake Paleo-Neanderthal Protestant Reformed
      Presbyterians (well, I may be close!) but we're not Spong's
      Episcopals either.
      >
      > At any rate, as I look at the youth ministries in my city (Miami,
      if it matters) I hear uncomfortable echoes from some of my dearly
      departed theological friends. I hear Spurgeon's voice reminding me
      that it is the business of the church to feed sheep, not entertain
      goats. I hear the young Brainerd recounting and heeding the counsel
      his mentor to "altogether shun young company." Most pronounced in
      my mind is the Biblical diagnosis that "Foolishness is bound up in
      the heart of a child."
      >
      > What I see is altogether different. I see the youth leaders on
      bended knee -- no, prostrate to the ground! -- trying to appease the
      children and delight them into attention. Pizza, games, movies,
      outings, activities (very, very EXPENSIVE activities!), at the end
      of which, if you don't mind, please, sir, if would you consent,
      please, to listen to a little short lesson and I promise to get you
      back to the fun as quickly as possible.
      >
      > The kids, foolish but not stupid, understand that "the lesson" is
      just the cost of doing business and they pay it because it buys them
      food, fun, and friends. But they don't respect the "leader;" they
      know he is afraid to offend them or demand anything from them or
      challenge them, because if he does they won't come back. So he
      gives them a teaspoon of Bible with six pounds of sugar. As a
      method for planting truth in the hearts of the young, you would do
      as well to water the concrete.
      >
      > Where is the challenge of the Gospel? Where is discipleship?
      Where is worship? Where is the cultivation of spiritual maturity
      and discernment? I do not expect the church to fulfill my
      responsibilities as a father, but I also do not expect the church to
      impede the spiritual growth of my children by teaching them that
      the only purpose for their existence is to consume fun constantly.
      Something is wrong when the church creates the expectation that life
      should be one big, loud, eternal party.
      >
      > I like fun. I have even been accused of having a sense of humor.
      I hold to the view that joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, and
      that fun is one of the forms of joy. I'll even buy, at least
      partly, the line that kids need to be allowed to be kids, that they
      need to be met at thier own level, that they need acceptance, etc.
      etc. etc. All true.
      >
      > I also get the idea when they tell me about "relational
      evangelism" or "pre-evangelism." I see and sympathize with what
      certain para-church organizations are trying to do with "Campus
      Ministries" that do not minister. I get it. It makes sense. "They
      won't care what you know until they know that you care." Absolutely
      true, I see the point.
      >
      > But I do not find the apostles and prophets seeking to purchase
      the attention of their auditors with seemingly unending supplies of
      trinkets and diversions. When the church fathers went to the
      circus, though they did not buy a ticket, they got seats very close
      to the action. The Reformers and Puritans, ejected from their
      pulpits, took to the fields, where they were met by hungry thousands
      who, driven by the Spirit, pursued them into the wilderness where
      the bread of God's word was broken, flashbacks to John the Baptist.
      >
      > I believe that youth ministry, as it is currently constituted, is
      a direct frontal assault on the discipline and authority of the
      family. It gives lazy fathers the excuse to abdicate their
      responsibilites as priests in their home. Now, fathers need not
      govern their families, instruct their children, and bring them up
      under the godly example of spiritual maturity practiced at home.
      No, this solemn responsibility is passsed off to "experts," who, it
      is alleged, "relate better" because they were children the day
      before yesterday.
      >
      > I challenge pastors: Preach sound, challenging doctrine, and aim
      it at your MEN. Charge them sharply and solemnly to fullfill their
      baptismal vows. Call your families to worship in the home. Call
      your men to pray with and for your children. Tell your "youth
      leaders" that fun is good, but that the Christian faith is not a
      party. Says Paul, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the
      power of God unto salvation." Power. That is a sobering word.
      >
      > Am I off base for wanting the church, beginning with its fathers,
      to take the challenge of the Gospel seriously, and cultvate mature
      sobriety in their children? Am I just an old stuffy fuddy-duddy
      killjoy because I am aware that my adversary the devil goes about
      like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and because I think
      that fact demands sober-minded maturity rather than spoiled,
      overindulged childishness?
      >
      > Can youth ministry be reformed so that it will support, rather
      than undermine, real spiritual growth?
      >
      > Neil
      >
      >
      >
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