Youth Ministry

The Spectrum of Independence in Youth Ministry, Part 3

As we consider the issues in Part 2, we will try to determine where we want to be on that spectrum. We can focus more on our teens or more on outsiders. In Part 3, I want to say that these choices actually are the same thing. What I mean is that focusing on our teens is incomplete until we get them to share our focus on unbelievers.
teens_miller.jpgWhen a child goes to college, parental involvement dramatically decreases. College ministries don’t seek permission from parents for activities. Nor do they contact parents before one-on-one counseling. Independence from parents is expected during this time of life.

A Barna Group Survey revealed that “close to nine out of ten parents of children under age 13 (85%) believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters.” The vast majority of Christian parents believe they bear primary responsibility for their kids under age thirteen.

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The Spectrum of Focus in Youth Ministry, Part 2

My previous article considered the role of parents in youth ministry. Direct Parental Discipleship is the responsibility of each parent. How should we apply that responsibility within a local church youth ministry?

654292_moods_4.jpgIn this series, I am presenting principles and ideas in pairs. Some principles specify approaches to ministry that are somewhat opposed to other approaches. Direct Parental Discipleship is such a principle. Any discipleship effort that isn’t directly performed by the teen’s own parents violates this principle to some extent. The principles in this article do not oppose each other. But they do compete with each other for time and resources.

Focus on Our Youth

The first principle is that we should focus our ministry resources on our youth. The parents we serve should strongly desire training for their children.

Proverbs 22:6, ESV

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

The simple message here is that good training will lead to a stable adulthood of following after God.

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The Spectrum of Parental Involvement in Youth Ministry, Part 1

Scripture gives parents great responsibility for the discipleship of their children. Ephesians 6 and Deuteronomy 6 make this fact clear. But Christians are divided on how the parental role should impact the task of youth discipleship. Churches exhibit a range of parental involvement in youth groups. Some refuse to have a youth group altogether, believing the miller_shoes.jpgresponsibility and task of youth discipleship belong exclusively to parents. At a previous church, a friend of mine asked if he could be involved in youth group with his daughter. He was told that, as a parent, he was not allowed to attend youth group—youth group was for teens.

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Why Churches Should Have “Kid Times”

by Aaron Blumer

As a pastor, I’ve been surprised by how often I encounter Christian parents who are disappointed that our church provides “kid times.” Regularly, our church gathers children, separates them from their families, and focuses on their needs. Many see this practice as unbiblical and bad for the family. Are they right?

children_cross.jpgFull Disclosure

I’m prejudiced against this way of thinking. My parents successfully reared all four children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord with the aid of churches that provided kid times, as did their parents before them. Both my mother and my grandmother turned to Christ and believed the gospel during Sunday school.

The idea that ministries like Sunday school, children’s church, and youth groups are recent inventions spawned by the godless thinking of anti-Christian philosophers finds a strongly skeptical audience in some of us. And the idea that these kid times are causing more young people to leave the faith is contrary to everything we’ve personally observed.

But the charge that these methods are unbiblical is the most serious one. Is there any basis in Scripture for separating children from their parents and siblings and teaching them? Should these kid times be a feature of our local church ministries?

Scripture provides at least four reasons for including kid times in the ministry of a local church.

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The Hope of the Gospel in Youth Discipleship

by Matthew Hoskinson

Note: See his other articles on youth ministry: The Primacy of Parents in Youth Discipleship, The Centrality of God in Youth Discipleship and The Role of the Church in Youth Discipleship.

One needs only to turn to the local Christian radio or TV station to recognize that the church is not preaching a single theme. From the gospel of financial prosperity to the gospel of self-esteem, professing believers—and the world around us—endure a cacophony of Christian-sounding messages that are devoid of any genuine good news precisely because theyhoskinson_teen.jpg lead a person to turn to himself or herself as savior.

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The Dumbing Down of Youth Ministry

Causes and Cures

by Dan Burrell

For too many churches, the youth pastor has become little more than the spiritual equivalent of an activities director on a cruise ship. He plans “events” and activities, hangs out with the kids, entertains, and provides some semblance of oversight in order to keep the kids reasonably safe and occupied. Many churches have designed “youth programs” that burrell_teens.jpgallow their teens to grow up with a sense of “entitlement” wherein they expect to be amused, indulged, and isolated from the adults with most every whim of appetite and interest being met by the church. They have separate services—sometimes to the point that they never even have an opportunity to go to the adult service, which is often described as “dry” and/or “irrelevant” to what they need. (Think about this: Many children are growing up in a church culture where they never sit under the pastor’s teaching or with their parents and family in a church service from infancy through adolescence because of nurseries, children’s programs, and youth programs.)

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The Role of the Church in Youth Discipleship

by Matthew Hoskinson

Note: See his other articles on youth ministry: The Primacy of Parents in Youth Discipleship and The Centrality of God in Youth Discipleship.

That trampled mass of red, white, and blue underneath King James (the basketball player, not the 1611) is what remains of the Detroit Pistons. As a lifelong fan of the team, I watched in stunned amazement as the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off a six-game sweep. Nothing left but the crying. And the fingerpointing.

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The Primacy of Parents in Youth Discipleship

Moving from Michigan to South Carolina demanded adjustments on many levels for me. Kroger and Farmer Jack were replaced with Bi-Lo and Publix. City names like Troy and Sterling Heights gave way to towns like Pickens and Pumpkintown. feet.jpgWhen people asked, “How are you?” they actually expected an answer. And it took me quite some time to figure out why these South Carolinians kept talking about USC and the Tigers. Why would sportswriters be so concerned about Southern Cal and my beloved baseball team?

One of the more unexpected adjustments was learning about the political process on the state level. In Michigan, the governor’s relationship with the state house and senate more or less corresponds to the federal system. Not so in South Carolina. While both states have a governor, a house, and a senate, the power is much more centralized in the governor’s chair in Michigan. As one might expect from the first state to secede from the Union during the Civil War, South Carolina has traditionally decentralized the power so that, in many ways, the state house and senate have more power distributed among their members than the governor himself has. Our current governor, Mark Sanford, ran on a platform to continue the work of a previous governor, Carroll Campbell, who made great strides in wresting certain powers from the state house and senate and centralizing them in his office. Now in his second term, Sanford is realizing just how difficult this task is.

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