Some youth leaders leave youth ministry too early because they don’t have a plan. Without a plan that recirculates (yet leaves room for current and various studies throughout each year) the youth pastor continues to grow and grow, and brings kids with him, and then it becomes harder and harder to “start over” with a new group of kids.
Choosing topics to study month-to-month or week-to-week is an exhausting way to plan and teach, and it is impossible to duplicate. This kind of haphazardness (that we all have experienced to some degree as we figured out who we are in ministry) needs to be addressed so we don’t keep losing good leaders.
For some, youth ministry is just a stepping-stone to another ministry; I am not addressing those men. I am addressing the young man who is just starting out in youth ministry, with goals to change the world or at least the next generation, and plans to stay in youth ministry until God changes his passion. I am also sharing ideas with those who have been in youth ministry for years, yet struggle with continuity or structure and that fact is sapping their enthusiasm for the ministry they feel called to.
I have a concern about one concept that is affecting all of the various ministries in the church, but I want to specifically focus on youth ministry and how this concept is affecting and changing it. My area of concern is what I am going to call intellectualism.
I define intellectualism as the process in which growth can only be realized and achieved by utilizing fresh, newly discovered information in contrast to the simple and profound. It is the concept that you must always teach something new rather than something simple (that is, the Bible). Though the exploration of new truth, and exposing ourselves to ideas that we previously did not know, is a good practice and a needed part of spiritual growth, intellectualism creates an adverse climate in youth ministries and churches across our nation. Intellectualism looks down upon the simple, yet profound, teaching of the Word of God in favor of teaching new ideas with fresh methods.
From VOICE, May/Jun 2015. Used with permission.
In the past two decades a spotlight has been placed on the problem of teens growing up and leaving the Church—not just going off to college or relocating, but permanently choosing not to have any part, role, or attendance in the ministry of a local church.
In several different parts of our country I have had conversations with pastors, youth pastors and laymen and this question has been asked or simply posed as a sad statement of fact. “I just don’t know where all our teens are going” said one Senior Pastor. “I’m not sure why our teens are quitting on the Church,” a layman in one of our Midwestern churches said to me. Many people are wondering where teens are going when they graduate. But the real question that must be raised is, Why are the teens leaving? We may not need to know where they are going as much as we need to know why they are leaving so we can strategize how to change the trend.
There is a great need for a Bible-based ministry directed at young people yet there are certain convictions that cannot be compromised in biblical youth ministry. The following ten convictions lay a firm foundation for local church youth ministry.
The Bible is the Word of God and is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) and is infallible, without error and sufficient in every way for every spiritual need for the believer no matter his age. The Bible is the final authority in everything and has everything we need pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). In our secularized culture, the counsel that students receive is often not biblical. It is important that the local church youth ministry give truly biblical counsel to students who are seeking help with their problems.
From VOICE, May/Jun 2015. Used with permission.
Raising teens to become faithful Christian adults has never been easy. Like all of us, our children enter this world as sinners with hearts that must be transformed by the Holy Spirit. This is biblical truth: there is no perfect family or perfect parent or perfect church; all of us are sinners and are imperfect people in desperate need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. yet…as imperfect parents, imperfect pastors, imperfect teachers and imperfect mentors we are commanded to be God’s instruments in the process of delivering the Gospel to our young people and instructing them in the way of righteousness.
But this is a bad combination: imperfect children, raised by imperfect parents, in imperfect churches, surrounded by a world filled with evil influences. Our teens are bombarded by an ungodly culture that is increasingly narcissistic, pornographic and captivated by superficial interests and instant gratification. Today, many young adults prefer to linger on the couch in their parent’s basement playing video games or fantasizing about other people’s lives through Facebook rather than completing the journey to adulthood. They’re less resilient in the face of difficulty, more dependent on their parents, and more distracted by digital and visual media than former generations.1