Youth Ministry

Confessions of a Recovering Teenager

by Pastor Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.
654292_moods_4.jpgNow 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.

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The Spectrum of Sanctification in Youth Ministry, Part 4

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 miller_rules.jpgin 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.

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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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