Sunday, November 26, 2006

More on Youth Ministry

It is my fear that when one encounters those, as myself, that think that youth ministry needs to be radically redone there are vast misconceptions. One of the major misconceptions is that the goal of a family integrated model of church is doing away with youth even gathering together. The second concern is that youth that are not part of a Christian family will not be evangelized. I believe that the people with these concerns are truly concerned about youth. However their concerns are unfounded and even their concerns are not being met with youth ministry as it is presently configured.

With a family integrated youth ministry the fathers are in charge of the discipling of youth with their primary concern being the discipleship of their own youth. Youth can gather together but it would be with the supervision and leadership of the parents, primarily the fathers. Now, one argument regards what does one do with parents that do not disciple their own children? This issue is where church discipline and leadership comes in to help. Simply because parents do not do as they are called we should not assume it is our responsibility to jump in and take over. So there is an important aspect of discipleship of parents that also needs to take place to make this all work. So while there are difficulties in accomplishing the correct method of discipling youth this is true of any ministry that deals with fallible people.

As far as the argument of not evangelizing un-churched youth the family integrated youth ministry model can accomplish this as well. If the youth of the church are discipled as they should they will in turn be able to evangelize the youth they meet daily. Youth that do become believers from an unbelieving family can for the time being be ministered to by a family in the church. Should the family of that youth become believers they would then be discipled so they take over the discipleship of their children. The other aspect of this is that in our corporate model of church we have come to see the role of the church to evangelize as an organization but scripture seems to show the individuals of the church being the ones that evangelize. The church seems to have decided to take this over because of the failure of its individuals to do so but this only perpetuates a continual decline in personal evangelism and reliance on a more corporate model. So, youth leaders see the need to put on events to try and evangelize because their youth and the parents of the youth do not do as they should. As with anything there are issues that may arise but this is also true of the current model of youth ministry.

While I see this model of youth ministry as the best one I also realize that unless one starts a church with this model it will take much teaching and patience to accomplish this. We are a people of habit and changing a model of age segregated ministry that has developed and taken hold over the last 100 years or so does not change overnight. There are issues such as the role of youth ministers and how they function in the church. There is also the need to change parent’s views of seeing youth ministry as the ones in charge of discipling their children and helping them to see it as their responsibility. So how one gets to youth ministry being the job of parents and not a professional youth minister may be difficult but will be well worth it for the spiritual health of the youth and families.

More to come on family integrated ministry.


Shift Conference Blog said... make some interesting points. As you have stated, youth ministry is definitely changing. What makes that particularly interesting is trying to figure out what needs to change. Is it the youth or the leadership?

We're talking about similar topics over at the Willow Creek Student Ministry blog ( Would you like to chime in with some of your comments?


Caleb Michael said...

Thanks for your insights; I fully agree! It all starts with parents. In todays culture the parents are continually leading totally seperate lives than their children. The kids go to school, the parents go to their jobs; the kids go to their activities and the adults to theirs. Lets just let church be the exception! If parents and youth can interact in church instead of segregating them once again, church will initiate the parent / teen relationship.