Re: On the necessity of Youth Ministry
- Hi Neil,
You might find Kerry Ptacek's Family Worship: Biblical Basis,
Historical Reality, Present Need
and Chris Schlect's CRITIQUE OF MODERN YOUTH MINISTRY at:
speaking to the question. The answer, as you surmise, is no.
cordially in Christ,
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Neil Barham
> Dear Friends,about "youth ministry." The lessons I am learning are raising more
> My children are now of an age where I am beginning to learn a lot
questions than answers.
>reasonably orthodox reformed denomination. No, we aren't Super-
> I am a member of a reasonably orthodox congregation in a
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
>if it matters) I hear uncomfortable echoes from some of my dearly
> At any rate, as I look at the youth ministries in my city (Miami,
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."
>bended knee -- no, prostrate to the ground! -- trying to appease the
> What I see is altogether different. I see the youth leaders on
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.
>just the cost of doing business and they pay it because it buys them
> The kids, foolish but not stupid, understand that "the lesson" is
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 worship? Where is the cultivation of spiritual maturity
> Where is the challenge of the Gospel? Where is discipleship?
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 hold to the view that joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, and
> I like fun. I have even been accused of having a sense of humor.
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.
>evangelism" or "pre-evangelism." I see and sympathize with what
> I also get the idea when they tell me about "relational
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.
>the attention of their auditors with seemingly unending supplies of
> But I do not find the apostles and prophets seeking to purchase
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.
>a direct frontal assault on the discipline and authority of the
> I believe that youth ministry, as it is currently constituted, is
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
>it at your MEN. Charge them sharply and solemnly to fullfill their
> I challenge pastors: Preach sound, challenging doctrine, and aim
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.
>to take the challenge of the Gospel seriously, and cultvate mature
> Am I off base for wanting the church, beginning with its fathers,
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,
>than undermine, real spiritual growth?
> Can youth ministry be reformed so that it will support, rather
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