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Youth Ministry

27 April, 2003 11:52 AM

Jordon posted on the 'failure of youth ministry'...It got me thinking, I left this comment.

I've been thinking about this for a while now. As an ex youth pastor I actually found it pretty easy to have a vibrant youth ministry. The hard bit was keeping them involved in the church when they turned 18.

I think the church does reasonably well at engaging relevantly with young people, well here in Australia they do. We research culture, we understand their generation, we are creative and innovative, we are missional, we meet them where they are at, we tackle relevant issues that they are facing....but then when they become 'adults' we tell them its time to go to 'big people's church' which more often than not is boring, culturally irrelevant in its 'method', very uncreative and not understanding of their culture. Its no wonder than 18-30 year olds are haemorrhaging from the church in unparalleled numbers!

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Transitioning is always hard - transitioning from youth to adulthood even more so, both in "real life" as well as in a church context.

As far as I know, the youth might attend Youth Fellowship but they also go to the main church service (or is it only that way in Malaysia?). So when it's time for them to "graduate", most churches here have cell groups specifically comprised only of college students with an "adult" (or older college student) as leader. I haven't seen any trend of older students "dropping out" of church.

In fact, I think the far more dangerous transition occurs when we start working, as we go our separate ways and start to "do our own thing", "live our own lives" - all of a sudden we are soooo busy! We have less contact with Christian friends, no more time to "hang out" and chat. Even calling each other up or emailing starts to taper off. We find ourselves with greater responsibilities and work eats up lots of our time... We come home tired and tempted to skip cell group meetings, and want to sleep in on Sundays because that's the only day we can really rest or spend time with friends - who are also working, and like us, only have weekends free. (Speaking from experience; I only started working about a-year-and-a-half ago...)

Back to the topic (effectiveness of youth ministry) - even if older students really ARE "dropping out" of church, you can't determine "effectiveness" by numbers or statistics. The author writes, "Very little youth ministry has a lasting impact on students" - I don't believe this is true. What the author is saying is that we don't SEE a lasting impact. But remember, if we don't see something this doesn't mean it isn't there!

I was listening to Ray Boltz's song the other day, the song called Thank You (check out the lyrics if you don't know it!) and I was reminded that even the smallest things we do can have a lasting effect. You never know! It might not look like we are making any difference, but only God can see the future and see into the hearts of men.

Of course if there is a failure to disciple then we need to address that failure and remedy it. But what I'm saying is that you can't simply say that youth ministry is "unsuccessful" just judging by the way things look.

We also have to remember that it's not up to us to make things happen, that we always have to do more and be better and grow bigger - that is the Performance Trap! It's not about us, it's about God! We do the best we can, but the rest is in His hands. Don't we think He loves those kids far more than we could ever love them? Don't we believe He wants them to come to Him, even more than we could ever want them to?

irene » 27 April, 2003 8:13 PM

Speaking as one of the twenty to thirty age group...In our church between 20-30 we have three single people (me, another chick and this other guy). The rest have left Church completely or changed churches to go where their partners are. There is a definate lack of young people. The married couples (of which there isn't a lot either) tend to stick to themselves as they are newly weds. I find that there is a definate lack of support in my situation. Btw, I have tried to do something about it, but people weren't really that interested.

Rachel F » 28 April, 2003 7:29 PM

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