This was on a blog I have recently found. It is AWESOME! May this be the driving passion of youth ministry!
A Young Adult’s Indictment Against Youth Ministry
Posted by Brian Thornton on April 1, 2009
Her name is Erica. She is fifteen. Though her family has moved about an hour away from us, and we rarely see them anymore, I still consider her mom and dad to be close friends. Her dad and I met back in college in the late 80’s (I am responsible for getting him his first real job, but he probably doesn’t like to admit that!). She is two years older than my daughter. We have video and pictures of her when she was three at my daughter’s first birthday party. I guess you can say that I have known her for her entire life. And now she is exhibiting the kind of godly wisdom and discernment that I could only dream about at her age. She is a product of two parents who take their faith and their parenting seriously. And it shows.
Erica is a no nonsense young adult. She has wisdom beyond her years. And she can see right through thinly veiled facades of what most churches would call “youth ministry”. What most would call vibrant programs that are reaching the young people of unchurched parents, Erica would call garbage. Erica represents what I hope and pray are the youth who truly are followers of the risen Christ. She doesn’t want hype. She can’t stand fluff. What she wants is to be taught the truth from Scripture. Period. And she demands it. Oh, that we all would be so bold and require from our churches such clear and direct and unadulterated proclamation of the Word. I wonder what the American church landscape would look like if that were the case.
Erica had an assignment at school. She was charged with writing an editorial on the subject of her choice. She chose to write about youth groups. As her mom states proudly (and rightly so), “she came up with the topic herself and all observations are her own.”
So, here it is. From a fifteen-year-old. Straight from the mind and convictions of an actual youth. Posted here exactly as it was forwarded to me:
A new phenomena is going on in churches these days. Picture this: You enter into the youth group of a church on a Sunday or Wednesday night. You see at least fifty kids around. Some are off talking or playing a game, but most are in a circle watching and laughing at something. You move closer into the circle and see the youth pastor and a kid trying to eat a banana through pantyhose covering their heads. You look around and notice no open Bibles, no sound of hymns or worship music, and no one praying. All you see is just a group of teenagers watching an adult and one of their peers awkwardly trying to eat a banana. You think to yourself, “Is this supposed to be church? This looks more like a party!” Well, unfortunately, this is church now. Youth group used to be opening your Bible and hearing what God had to say to you. It used to be led by someone older, someone with more experience and wisdom on how to live a godly life. It used to be about learning to listen to God and keeping Him close to your heart. Not anymore. Don’t get me wrong, though, they still do open Bibles, and maybe sing a few praise songs. The youth pastor might read a verse or two, but only after losing the kids’ attention and respect because of his display of looking like a fool.
According to Life Way research, 70% of 18-22 year olds drop out of church for at least one year. Ninety-seven percent of these church drop-outs reported that a “life change” was their reason for leaving the church. One of these “life changes” included wanting a break from church. Now why would someone who had gone to church for years and years, suddenly just want a break? There are many reasons for this, I suppose, but here’s my theory: These kids have grown to perceive church as being a joke. Watching their youth pastor do lame “gross out” games, and listening to music that is more like a copy-cat version of secular music, with Jesus thrown in here and there, has made teenagers see church as uncool and fake. Church, especially youth group, is no longer about conviction and growing closer to God, but has instead turned into a hang-out for people who don’t “do” church. Because of this, a lot of teenagers, who have grown up in the church, don’t even know that they are sinners.
So what’s the solution to this church problem? Well, I believe the perfect answer comes from C.S. Lewis when he was asked the question,“ Do you feel, then, that modern culture is being de-Christianized?” and answered with this: “…I have some definite views on the de-Christianizing of the church. I believe that there are many accommodating preachers, and too many practitioners in the church who are not believers. Jesus Christ did not say, ‘Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.’ The Gospel is something completely different. In fact, it is directly the opposed to the world.” What C.S. Lewis says here is so true, in that, churches should not be accommodating to the world, but be different and set apart. We are to be, as Christ Himself said, “the light and salt of the earth.” We must be the opposite of this dark world. We must be the light.
Amen, Erica. May God bless you, protect you, and continue to grow you in the grace and knowledge of Him.