When I felt the call to ministry after my sophomore year of college, I quickly knew the direction that ministry would be focused: teenagers.
I saw them as the group I knew the best, that could benefit the most from my experiences, and the most logical in which to invest.
They're the future of the church after all, right?
And most churches at that time held the same idea. If you want your church to grow and continue, GET THE KIDS!
And how do we get the kids?
GREAT YOUTH MINISTRIES, of course! Full of crazy games, all-nighters, and way too much pizza. (Here's one veteran youth minister's confessions on how some of those elements went awry for him;)
And so churches scrambled to get young ministers to expend lots of energy building these exciting programs to invest in the church of the future....
The problem is, those youth have rarely become part of the church.
That same veteran youth minister who confessed all his crazy & stupid experiences in the above link, has recently said this:
"Contrary to much of our current thinking about the importance of powerful youth ministries to the lifelong spiritual development of future adults, research proves otherwise: a teenager who attends a church's worship service on a regular basis and does not attend youth group is more likely to continue to attend church worship services as an adult than a teen who is active in youth group but doesn't attend worship services with other age groups." (Mark Oestreicher from The Emerging Church)
And after more than a decade of youth ministry at a single church, I can say that is generally true. Not in every case, but more often than not.
And as we face an increasingly diverse and distracted culture, that places us at an interesting crossroads.
For those of you just joining through the Missouri Free Will Baptists Facebook page, I want you to know that I want to create a space where we can discuss and wrestle with these issues of faith, purity and culture. I want this to be a place where we can voice our frustrations and discouragements (because I know there are plenty!) but also exhort and challenge and suggest ways to improve. I don't have many of the answers but I will be sharing some things we are doing as a ministry that are working (as well as share the things we try that definitely don't!)
But mostly I want this to be a forum for community and discussion as we do the good work of sharing Christ with the world (and that world includes more than 30 million teenagers!)
So I pray you will join us. Let's start with this question: Which category did/do you fall in? 1)went to church but not youth group as a kid. 2)went to youth group but not church as a kid. 3)went to church and youth group both as a kid.
10 hours ago