I am aware that this blog sometimes becomes an echo pit of other’s comments regarding what’s wrong with youth ministry. Some reminders… I’m almost always pointing to another person’s comments and one who is often pointing towards a solution. And, usually when it seems that I keep coming back to the topic, that is because I have read probably a handful of others’ comments before I found a credible voice worth passing along for your consideration.
So, when Thom Schultz, author and founder of Group Publishing, posts something entitled The Trouble with Youth Ministry, it’s something worthy of your consideration. Thom, himself, echoes what is being said elsewhere, but points out the solution is in what we should already have been about…
Some of these things may contribute to the exodus of the church’s youth. But they’re not the primary culprits.
The real problem is much simpler. And it’s not a uniquely teenage problem. While adolescents have been drifting away, the same trend infects the American population at large. Adults too are drifting away…
They lack relationship.
And relationships—of any kind—rarely grow and bond primarily due to the accumulation of data. Relationships—with people and with God—develop through demonstrations of unconditional love, building of trust, forgiveness, reliance, and tons of two-way communication.
Relationships built on these things endure. And grow. And actually develop a craving to learn more.
Where do we begin? Any relationship begins with the simple discovery that someone really exists, is real, is present, is truly alive. It’s hard to fall in love with someone you don’t believe exists. So, we can afford to spend more time showing the present-day Jesus, rather than only teaching about the historical Jesus. We can devote more time to hearing and encouraging peers who tell how God acts and intervenes in their lives—today, each week.
We can provide more opportunities for the real present-day Jesus to shine through genuine relationships with mature believers who ooze the unconditional love of Christ.
We can plan more deep experiences, such as community service opportunities, where kids can witness God’s love in action.
We can provide meaningful times of personal introspection, conviction, and immersion in the miracle of God’s forgiveness.
We can devote more quiet time for kids to engage in personal two-way communication with God.
In short, building a true and enduring relationship with Jesus looks a lot like building a relationship with another person.
If we desire to see this generation of young people embrace their faith and remain loyal to the Body of Christ, we must help them become friends of God.
Read Thom’s whole post as he sets up The Trouble with Youth Ministry and offers this response.