Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How do we keep our youth in church?

The article below was written by Matt Friedeman, and I agree with him. We, as Christians, do not effectively reach the youth of our day, not because we aren't like those we're trying to reach, but in my opinion, we are acting too much like them. We give non-Christians no reason to want to change and become a Christian.

"In 2002, the SBC's Council on Family Life reported that roughly 88 percent of evangelical children are leaving the church shortly after they graduate from high school."

But why?

I wonder if it is not for these three reasons:

First, we give students what they want, instead of what they need. Some say this is making the gospel relevant to youth. But how relevant is the gospel if, once you are away from your parents, your head has a tough time leaving the pillow for ecclesiastical environs on Sunday mornings? One has to wonder if we have gone too far with age-segregation (which is hardly relevant in the "real" world), catering to perceived needs of teenagers (again, not relevant in later life), and isolating kids in an evangelical subculture (that is laughed at, actually, in "real" life).

Second, when Jesus made disciples of young men (and John was called "a youth and almost a boy" by one early church father), He challenged them to "Follow Me." Teenage discipleship in Jesus' day meant spending time with an adult. Initially, that was with a parent who worked your tail-end off on the farm while talking about Deuteronomy (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9). If you were blessed enough later in life to receive teaching from a rabbi, it meant attaching yourself to the teacher and learning adult lessons with adult methodology. There were no cool websites, lock-ins, hip-hop bands or youth organizations pulling out the stops to come up with neat, new (actually, frequently gross) games to capture attention before a quick three-point Bible study and then pizza.

Third, I wonder if we don't significantly cheat our kids when we suggest that vital discipleship can exist without a life of evangelism and compassionate service. Again, discipleship Jesus-style meant gathering a small group and putting them to communicate the gospel and work among the needy of the community. Together they challenged the lost, touched the sick, healed the lepers, reached out to the hungry and ministered to the poor. In one of his last lessons on earth, Jesus warned His disciples that anyone who wasn't involved in this kind of activity risked "the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:31-46). How is it our youth, and by extension our churches, miss that message? And then, are shocked that our lack of mission fails to capture the imagination of a burgeoning adult making his own time and commitment choices?

Could it be that youth see right through it all? Could it be they know our faith is a farce? Could it be that staying home on Sunday mornings is just as relevant to the Kingdom as attending a church that makes a joke of ministry, specifically youth ministry?

Article was copied from - Here

What do you think? Do we need more games and entertainment? Or should the youth of our churches work closely with the godly adults of the church who have experience living in this evil world?


Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

I think there is too much catering to the youth in many churches. Age segregation only does harm the people involved. The goal for young people should be to become responsible adults, and how can they do that unless they talk and minister with responsible Christian adults?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Elizabeth. The coorporate church is only an extension of the family. Children must be taught to appreciate the value of church in their homes. It must be demonstrated to them through the example of their parents. Parents must also instill a desire to place church within the larger context of family and commnunity. Until we return biblical understanding of the family and the biblical roles of men and women in society, we will continue to stuggle to show young people the value of Christian living.

Kaitlin said...

I definitely agree with both Elizabeth and David. However, I've also found that in churches where there aren't a lot of young people, their Spiritual needs are somewhat neglected. I, for one, am one of the few young people at my church and I'm very thankful that I've have someone who is "mentoring" me. He's someone that I can talk to about Spiritual things. Most people talk to their pastors but my dad is my pastor so it's really nice to talk to someone whose views I haven't heard a million times. Yep, that's all I have to say about this. :)

the traveler said...

Youth groups...ach, a big can of worms for me. There's much to be said on this topic, but I think one central thing I see wrong with the idea is, "You need to get down to their level." That was something I heard an elder of our church (former)say. That's not discipleship. I think the most helpful thing would be for adults to act like adults and bring young adults UP to their level, into a greater level of spiritual maturity. It's a mistake to decide that youth should stay youth and not spur them on to bigger and better things. This reminds me of something The Rebelution said about adults who still haven't grown up. Youth group isn't about growing up--it's about playing. Disclaimer: Not all youth groups are like this, but I think many of them are.