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Friday, November 17, 2006

MTV Style Youth Ministry Is Out Dude!

MTV Style Youth Ministry is OUT... the Bible is IN says the Christian Post.

We could never compete with Disney anyway, but we preachers are good at making fools of ourselves. So why not try that too?

Thankfully the teenagers are smarter than we'd give them credit for. But, then, by definition, they'd have to be smarter than we thought if we assumed "ministry to teens" meant trying to answer the question "What would Beavis and Butthead do while wearing a W.W.J.D. bracelet?"

One surprising finding that Fuller Seminary's Center for Youth and Family Ministry revealed in an ongoing study was that teens attend youth group because they like their youth pastor and to learn about God. Those reasons were listed by the majority of the surveyed students. The Barna Group found the top reason listed among teens for attending church was to "understand better what I believe."

Students also said they wanted to have more time for deep conversation and also desired more accountability in their youth groups. Games or other activities were not a desired priority. (emphasis added).

Sadly, by the time we figured this out, a generation may have gone down the drain.

The question is: will we challenge youth to be more than "slogan Christians"?

A local church in our presbytery had a youth group who got sick of giving toys at Christmas. They kept getting asked for "Xbox's" and "Playstations" and they didn't own them themselves. So their youth director wisely got them involved helping some people who really needed help and who appreciated getting clothes and food for Christmas. That became life changing and helped the kids peel off the middle class materialism and ingratitude we tend to suffer from.

Reformed University Fellowship has done a good job helping college age youth reconnect with the great post-reformation hymns set to new music, complete with occasional archaic language retained. In the process, they have learned the theology of the hymns.

Forever Grateful Music has put 80 to 100 scripture passages to modern tunes to aid scripture memorization.

I find that most Christians - even ones who've been in the church "all their lives" and are no longer teens - need to reconnect with the rich history of the Christian Faith in general and their own church's tradition in particular. Ministers to all ages need to help people learn a Christian worldview for the first time and break out of the dumbed down sentimentality that passes for the faith of the apostles, prophets, and martyrs in our churches.