Pastor Confesses Addiction to Youth Ministry Programming
“Timothy Eldred…used to spend most of his time in the office brewing ideas for flashy programs that will draw a young crowd, he confesses in his new book, 4-Hour Youth Ministry: Escaping the Trap of Full-Time Youth Ministry.”
“Evangelical churches do a better job than mainline churches in keeping their young people in the faith, probably because they invest more money in youth ministry, says a Duke University professor who studies characteristics of American congregations.”
by Pastor Dan Miller
Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.
Now that the sunlight of middle age has burned off the haze of teenaged confusion, I see the specter of my past sins and humbly confess but a few of them to a mom and dad who astonishingly chose not to murder me. These are the earnest confessions of a recovering teenager.
CONFESSION: Please forgive the bland indifference with which I listened to stories about your past. I realize now that even the simplest of your recollections were a bequest of familial roots. You were teaching me who I was and where I came from. You were helping me discern my place in the grand design of a sovereign God. How I wish I could hear all those stories again with the inquisitiveness I should have once had; but there is no time for that now—an excuse I suspect will find its way into my “Confessions of a Recovering Middle-Ager” someday.
I ended the last article with a discouraging note about the futility of the steps we often employ to guard against the flesh. Steps like being accountable and placing barriers of activity between ourselves and our temptation actually have “no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Col. 2:23, ESV). These steps are not worthless, but they have no effect on our true heart’s desire.
Although man-made rules are of no value, something else has power in “stopping the indulgence of the flesh” or “restraining sensual indulgence” (Col. 2:23, NIV). This issue is the spectrum of this paper: What causes sanctification? Rules of men or holding fast to Christ?
These rules of men are tempting. Paul says they have the “appearance of wisdom” in promoting religion. The Pharisees (Matt. 23:23-24), the Colossians, and those in Timothy’s future (1 Tim. 4:1-5) all succumbed to this mistake. The rules men set up can provide external, visible, apparent victory in our teens. But those minor victories are short-lived.