Friday, June 19, 2009

Rethinking Youth Ministry

RE: "Youth Survey: Teens Lose Faith in Droves" in MacLeans

I think it's time to rethink youth ministry (if you are already doing so, this note may be irrelevant to you). After reading what Bibby has to say, I think that things here in Canada may not be improved much in the near future. I've also been reading Philip Jenkins on Histories of Lost Christianities, which is also very unsettling.

Someone once said that most who convert to Christianity do so around the age of 15 (I don't know if that is only in modern times, or if that is over the whole history of the church, nor how we would know that). If that is the case, why is Youth Ministry so often handed to young men and women who are only a few years older? Is it not time for older Christians to drop the "retirement attitude" ("I did youth when my kids were young") and get on with converting the next lost generation?

Has there been any objective research showing the success of the Youth Ministry industry (schools, curriculums, media and conferences) over the past few decades? Anecdotal evidence would suggest that Youth Ministry, as practised by a majority of churches, is a failure for the most part (I realise that there may be other reasons for the decline in membership, but this variable needs to be taken into consideration). Ten years ago the rage here was "Youth Driven Ministry" which was basically needs based. But does anyone know what they need?

"It's a sin to bore a kid with Jesus!" Perhaps, but it definitely a sin to be bored by Jesus. Boredom won't help youth find Jesus, but is anyone considering why they are bored, or whether our methods of reaching youth is part of the problem?

1 comment:

Andy Rayner said...

Needs based? A Sin to Be bored with jesus seems to hit a nail. Certainly I am not suggesting we be inactive and creative in how we approach youth. But there are "soils" that are just ready,other temporarily so, Others conditionally so. Can a new creative program, promoted and planned by the church change that in a person? Were is the line between Calvinism (It's the spirits work to change them) Armenian (It's his free choice to change but his alone), and secular humanism (I will choose to better myself by becoming this) Interestingly the Greek word in Mark 4:26-29 reminds us that when we sow seed, much of the growth is "Automate" verse 28 "All by it self".Grows automatically.
Is there a place for focusing on more sowing,(Sow much reap much) rather than trying to change soil?
It seem much of what church is about it to motivate poor soil to be something else. Can we motive them? I'll admit I have failed at that approach. Thanks for the post, that article was very interesting in Mclaeans.
Visit me at some time. Not that I'm insightful.
God Bless
Andy Rayner