Why is Youth Ministry Important? (2/3)

While growing up I heard a phrase that never sat well with me. Commonly used in various avenues across our country, adults have believed that “our youth our the leaders of tomorrow” or “our youth is the church of tomorrow.” The majority of my life has been spent as a teen or youth and now my calling is to disciple and minister to teens. Wholeheartedly, now more than ever before, I believe teens are the church of today. The younger generation is the church and is the lifeblood of Christ’s call to make disciples. Why?

Guan Tianlang

Guan Tianlang

If you haven’t noticed lately, teens are changing and impacting our world in all areas of society. Guan Tianlang, a 14 year old phenom, made the cut at the MASTERS. Last year, Bryce Harper made his MLB debut at 19 and has never looked back. Teens making their debuts in the music industry has gone back to Mickey Mouse Club and as recently as Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.

So, what about in the church? If teens can radically impact our world and society, then the same should be true in our churches and we should be seeing the fruit of that. I believe that can happen. I believe that does happen. But, do we let it happen to the extent it should happen? Is it happening in your church?

Two of the biggest lies our teens buy into while being part of the church (I know I did) are that their presence isn’t valued and that they are supposed to ‘sow their wild oats’  while they are young. Both of these stem from the fact that for most of our lives we have believed that youth are important tomorrow because we (as adults) are important today. We had been told that we were the future, so we want to be that future when we finally get the chance. But it’s hard to change the mindset, however, I think it needs changing.

imagesTelling youth that they are the church of tomorrow, I believe, excuses responsibility when Jesus says. “follow me now.” I think of John the beloved disciple who left his future and followed Jesus, some scholars say as early as the age of 16. And secondly, because leaders in the church haven’t taken time to invest in the lives of teens, therefore, they are reluctant to relinquish power. Discipleship hasn’t happened in their church and isn;t happening intentionally by them

Teens need to hear loud and clear that Jesus says ‘Follow Me Now’ in whatever you do or where ever you go. That it’s alright and preferred to not have a ‘come back to Christ’ testimony. That idea has become an idol in today’s Christianity. Also, leaders in the church need to see the importance of discipling teens themselves, so that they can actually entrust the church to these teens. The problem is that many times we focus so much of our time on our earthly goals and ambitions, that the importance of discipleship has been cast by the wayside. Our actions many times reflect a belief that ‘someone else will disciple them’ or ‘they don’t have to live right now,’ while excusing bad behavior contrary to the Gospel.

Youth Ministry intentionally attacks these two lies and shines a light of Gospel truth into their lives.

  1. So, how are you personally helping your local youth ministry?
  2. How are you personally discipling teens?

2 thoughts on “Why is Youth Ministry Important? (2/3)

  1. Age should not be a determinant of spirtual maturity nor a deterent for impacting others for Christ. The youth of today should have that opportunity and we should all encourage them in their walk and ability to impact others for Christ.

  2. There are two things that I have seen in the last week that come to mind when I read through this post. I believe the first will lead into the second:

    1. The blog that I have linked below displays a couple of things:

    a) There is power in intergenerational fellowship/discipleship. It is incredible to see that this 13 year old boy was not just ministering with a group of teens or his youth minister, but with an “older pastor”. So often we assume that in order to disciple someone there must be common interests. In this story we see that there was a common interest; Jesus! There is great power in a genealogy of faith.

    b) Never underestimate the ability of a young person to make a significant impact for the Kingdom. This 13 year old boy had a passion to minister that even a rock to the head could not defuse! Incredible!
    http://www.nikripken.com/a-13-year-old-church-planter/

    2. The need for children to be discipled in a family setting. It is interesting to see the church compared to a family and then in turn to see a family display the love and grace that the church is called to show. There is little more that I have seen more effective for modeling the gospel that a family that chooses to love and forgive one another no matter what; and then also loves and serves others outside of the family as a family. Your last paragraph really brought to light a dangerous attitude that I believe parents need to watch out for more than ministers. You wrote, “Our actions many times reflect a belief that ‘someone else will disciple them’ or ‘they don’t have to live right now,’ while excusing bad behavior contrary to the Gospel.” Yes, churches need to realize that teens are important. But I also believe that parents (long before kids are teenagers!) need to see that they are to be the primary discipler of their children. I saw a parent ask two connected questions of other parents this last week that likely needs asked in many families:

    Q1: Do you want your child to:
    a) receive a Division I athletic scholarship
    b) get into an Ivy League school
    c) be the most popular and well-liked kid in school
    d) develop God-honoring character and a heart for God & others

    Q2: How is most of your time spent in running your kids around? Which of the above choices gets the majority of your family’s time?

    The answer to those questions will determine whether or not biblical discipleship can even happen within a given family structure.

    So what about the students that do not have a family in the church? I believe we need to equip the families in our churches to reach out to these students. The testimony and picture of a family that loves and forgives one another on a small scale is likely to be more effective (in my mind) than many evangelistic youth events and retreats I have seen in the past.

    Student ministries is so important in the church today! But it is my believe that this is most effectively done through the family. This is best done through times of intergenerational fellowship where the genealogy of faith can be passed from one generation to the next. This does not mean that there are never times when people near the same age group are gathered together, but I do believe that when there is complete segregation of generations it is often a bigger hinderance than help in ministry.

    If I had the time (or this was for a grade or a job ;)) I would have spent more time backing up these points. But since this is just a blog comment I can just throw my opinion around like it is authoritative, right?

    Great posts! Looking forward to the last post in this series.

Leave a Reply