Why no Youth Ministry
I. Why We Do Not Offer a Youth Ministry
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs--how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world--how he can please his wife and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world--how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
--1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Since the beginning of history, up until approximately 100 years ago, teenagers were regarded in all world cultures not as children in their final phase of childhood, but as adults in their early years of adulthood. At Word of Grace Community, we have returned to the historical view where teenagers are not treated as children needing to be entertained, but as young adults with a very important calling to ministry on their lives.
The Scriptures teach that God has for each of us a unique purpose and calling based on our age and station in life. Older widows have a different calling than younger widows, and women have different callings than men. God has different expectations for adults than He does children. And single adults (including teens) have different callings than married adults.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35 He tells single Christians they have two options in their season of life:
- Marry (which is not reasonable for most teens today) or
- Use the single years to devote time to ministering for the Lord.
God does not view the teen years as many do in our society. Unfortunately, many Christian parents regard the teenage time period as the last years of childhood and the final years of fun and being carefree. To God the teen years are the "warrior" years -- those years when they do not have the distraction of caring for a wife and children -- the years when they are most available for ministry.
At Word of Grace Community we have found that when teens are treated with the respect and significance due young adults, and are channeled toward ministry and not the self-absorption of immaturity, they rise to the occasion and spiritually flourish.
We have also found that when the young church members with the most faith, energy, and zeal are released into service, the Church as well as the teens are blessed! Their first calling is to serve their brothers and sisters and parents, but there are many opportunities for our teenagers to serve the Body.
It is easy to see what Paul was saying when he wrote this to Timothy:
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."
1 Tim 4:12
II. Why Youth Ministries Are Not Successful
We believe that the traditional church Youth Ministry has a negative effect on the spiritual maturing process of the teenager. We realize this is a strong statement for some, but recent research supports this claim as well. It was reported by the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life in 2001 that 88% of the children raised in evangelical homes leave the church at the age of 18, never to return.
While we can rejoice in the 12% who maintain the faith, one has to question the reasons why the overwhelming majority do not. We are WOGCC and other sister family-integrated churches believe the current age-segregated system is flawed because of these reasons:
Teenagers gather separately from other adults for activities
- It promotes age segregation
- Reinforces a youth subculture identity -- they are treated as if they were still children
- Removes them from the benefits of having adults as their mentors
- Creates a feeling that “I have unique needs.”
- Surrounds the Christian teenager with immature believers - slowing up maturing process or giving a false sense of growth by comparison.
- Breaks down family cohesiveness and identity
- Multiple activities minimize family time
- Creates passive "pew-warmers" rather than active warriors for Christ. Expectations are low
- Creates competition and disharmony between ages
Activities and Entertainment
- Feeds the "play" mentality, promoting self indulgence and immaturity
- Fosters the "youthful desires" teens should be fleeing from -- 2 Tim 2:22
- Encourages overtly or inadvertently some of what parents want absent in their children's lives.
- (dress, appearance, speech, behaviors, guy-girl relationships)
- Seeks to identify with current trends, behaviors and cultural values instead of developing a Biblical “be ye separate” style of living
- For the sake of peer acceptance, youth groups encourages teenagers to adapt to the current youth culture in dress, speech and behaviors
Outreach to unbelievers
- Worldly appeals from the current culture are used to attract unbelievers, subjecting all teens to this ploy where activities sometime go beyond appropriate Christian conduct.
- Family is not seen as a place of outreach.
Socialization of peers
- Creates intense social cliques with accompanying problems of being “in” or “out.” Value is placed social status instead of relationship with Christ.
- Friendships become so intense that they can consume teens, robbing their hearts from home.
Hormonally charged boys and girls engage in premature and inappropriate relationships
- Boy/girl chemistry in the group distracts many from intense pursuit of God.
- Dating relationships flourish which awaking feelings before their appointed time.
- Broken relationships are like mini-divorces, which is a training ground for adult married life breakups.
Counseling from Youth Leaders
- Division between teens and parents may grow because of new loyalties to youth leader.
- Youth leader may pass on values contradictory to parents'.
Teaching geared for young people
- Relieves parents of their Deut. 6 training responsibilities, and helps them abdicate their Biblical role of discipling their children.
- Unsound teaching may go unchecked since the parents are not present.
The Good and Not So Good Results of Youth Ministry
We recognize that many young people have come to faith in Christ because of the ministry of church youth programs. Many of our mother and fathers are part of the 12% that maintained our faith in Christ after high school graduation. Many have served as Youth Ministers in years past. There a many good men giving their lives to those teenagers who have no parental guidance.
We understand that many Christian young people have grown spiritually because they heard life-changing biblical Truth in a youth group. It is not our belief that God does not work in youth groups, for He has.
We simply believe that God can accomplish the same ministry and more when teens are elevated to their high calling within the general body of believers, and mentored by a mother and father.
Our experience has shown that what the Church enjoyed throughout history, discipleship within the context of the family, can still be a blessing today.
What about the teenager who has no spiritual life at home? No parents that profess Christ? If God brings about salvation of a lost soul, then surely He can provide the person who will teach him God’s ways. In Phil 1:6 Paul writes:
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
We can be sure of God’s sovereign care over his sheep. There are many Christian dads who stand ready to add to their “herd” the spiritual care of a lost or found sheep. This is the beauty of Biblical manhood, where God uses Godly men to fulfill his ministry on the earth.
Many families would be thrilled to have watch care over another teenager, with the possibility of ministering to that child’s parents. This fulfills the missionary call upon each family to reach out to the lost and hurting. If a teen appears at your church without Christian parents at home, then you can be sure there will be many opportunities to minister to that family in the months and years ahead.