Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Some Thoughts on Youth Ministry

Guest Column by Eric Mock
Pastor, River's Edge Bible Fellowship
Pecatonica, Illinois

In the midst of difficult times, we often find ourselves praying to be spared from these trials. Yet it is in these times that our Lord God refines and purifies a people after His own possession and to His own glory. We must praise God for these challenging times, as in the midst of them we can see His hand at work in all of our lives. I have found the best antidote when I get tired is to add another ministry. In this case, we evaporate all opportunity to reflect on our own condition as we are immersed in service of our Lord. One of these ministries we added is a Bible study to teens that has captivated my heart.

We are in a difficult and confusing time in our country, and our response remains the same as it has been in recent years. It is to find ways to ease our pain, and please the senses. Rather than being confronted with the the depth of our own sin through trials, we seek therapy and consolation for our condition. The product of a post-modern thinking, we have an adult generation that arrives at church expecting an encouraging, light hearted message rather than an encounter with the Truth. One would expect that the product of such adult thinking is a generation of teens lost with no answer in sight. And this is absolutely the truth! Surrounded by broken homes, fractured marriages and hypocrisy there are no hand holds for them to grab onto in the journey towards maturity. Yet in this tragic situation God has raised up a generation of teens zealous for Truth, real Truth from people who really care about them and live this Truth in their lives. This generation, called by some a post Christian generation, are being raised up by God hungry for answers. I have thirty teens in a town of 2000 people that come every Sunday night to our home, not for pizza or video games, but to learn about the one True God and His Word, and experience godly fellowship. On Sunday morning these teens are taking pages of notes, pouring through their Bibles with every Scripture referenced. These teens are our modern day Bereans. Rather than passing off the job of working with the teens to those that will entertain, teach teens the Truth that they might be the witnesses to the adult lost and their communities. In the former Soviet Union, it is the teens who are in passionate service of our Lord in communities, in orphanages, to those in need and even to those parents under which they suffered years of abuse. I understand that 85% of those children claiming Christ at an early age in America walk away from their faith before leaving high school. This stands to our shame, as far too long we have been teaching religion rather than Biblical Truth and what it means to be truly saved through Christ, our living God and only hope.

I offer these words as a corrective in our day. Rather than constantly adapting churches to meet the needs of a therapeutic generation, let us boldly teach the Word of God, with conviction and love, to a generation that is ready to be ambassadors in the service of our Lord. These difficult times are producing a generation of teens raised up by God to be life changers! There is nothing wrong with the seed - broadcast it to the glory of God!


Gilbert said...

"I have found the best antidote when I get tired is to add another ministry."

I think that's wrong, IMO. What does the Bible say on this?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ---Matthew 11:28

"For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes." Jeremiah 31:25

That's not "go into another ministry". You need to be replenished...maybe it's just taking a Saturday or an extra day off every now and then. Or, better sleep at night. While the disciples worked hard, got beaten, chased out of God allowed, they got rest.

The rest of the note, I agreed with. We definitely don't need therapeutic messages and services anymore. We need the true, the one and only, Word of God! Fed to us and our kids.

Eric said...

Hello Gilbert, and thanks for writing. Certainly one needs to sleep and rest. Often though we compartmentalize our lives, where things of God, practical living and recreation are separate components of our lives. In my travels, I have seen many faithful believers whose ministry is their very lives, and the seek to proclaim Truth and grace in all aspects of their lives. It is just my own experience that active service of our Lord tends to preclude self-absorption.

Regarding Matthew 11:28, my understanding of this text is that Jesus is speaking of rest from the weariness of sin and fruitless works that the Pharisees had piled up; rest that comes through faith in Christ. Jeremiah 31 is a beautiful chapter, as God declares he is the one who refreshes our weary spirit, and establishes a new covenant of peace as he remembers our sin no more - this He will do by His own will. It is this rest by the grace of God through the precious blood of Christ that we hope in and preach to all who will hear.