Friday, October 02, 2009

Idiots, Damned Idiots and Youth Ministry


Before I begin my little rant, let me thank Phil Johnson for the heads up on the item linked below. He first posted it over on Facebook, where it is drawing quite a bit of comment, most of it deservedly negative. As he rightly put it, is there no depth to which some churches will not sink?

For the title of this post, I appropriated and modified the famous statement attributed to Benjamin Disraeli. When you see this report about a church's youth ministry, I'm sure you'll see why I used the title.

I have seen stuff like this before, although not to this level. It's not even necessarily a new phenomenon. More than 20 years ago at one church I used to attend, the youth leader had activities that involved "the worst smelling sock" contest. I didn't like it then as a young man, and I don't like it now. I especially don't like what many "youth ministries" have degenerated into.

I would strongly urge parents to look closely into what's going on in their children's youth groups. At best, I'd say someone needs to be retrained in youth ministry. At worst, I'd say someone needs to be canned. This is not glorifying to Christ. In my humble opinion, it borders on child abuse, even though I'm sure lots of kids were cheering and egging it on.

As for those who supposedly came to faith during this episode, let's check and see where they are in 10 years. I'll be real curious.

13 comments:

Dave said...

Hi solameanie

There isn't a link in your post. Could you add one? Thanks.

Solameanie said...

Sorry about that. One wrong key is all it takes. It's fixed now.

Dave said...

Thanks.

I have been trying to think of what to say about it, but words completely fail me! and that does not happen - just ask my wife!

Solameanie said...

I'm sure I'll catch some heat for being so vociferous about it, but so be it. This stuff is just awful, but it seems to be growing like gangrene. They really seem to think this is what it takes to capture youth. I could point them to numerous youth ministers who simply teach Scripture, let the Holy Spirit do His work, and their youth groups are packed.

crownring said...

Bobbing for chicken feet? For crying out loud, I couldn't continue reading after that for fear of barfing! What's next.....seeing how many whiskey shots you can down before you pass out? Or upping the ante to facsimiles of MTV's "Jackass"?

Insanity.........

Dave said...

Do you notice how they say nothing about getting kids to talk about God - only to talk about their church and how crazy it is? Rom. 10:17 "So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ". How do we get people to hear the message about Christ? Not with chicken feet and peanut butter, but Mat 5:16 "In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."

Solameanie said...

It's as if they have forgotten about Someone called the Holy Spirit, who draws people to Himself when the Gospel is proclaimed. They might be able to draw plenty of kids to the youth group in hopes of seeing the next outrageous shenanigans, but will they actually be born again, gloriously saved, and enter into lifetimes of service to Christ?

If the popcorn gets stale at the main event, I have to wonder.

Interesting the word verification this time was "splat."

lee n. field said...

"The climax of the church service was a pair of huge, hairy armpits. "

I'm contemplating another rant. May show up here, may elsewhere.

Some different thoughts right now:

1)So, where are the church elders? Ie, is this part of a properly ordered church? Possibly there are some organizational reasons that the youth program gets out of hand.

2)There may be a place for fun and silliness (like, when you're nine), but there comes a time for normal people when they give that up. Normal people don't constantly rehash their glory days on the high school feetball team when they're well into middle age. Christianity is for all of life, and for dying. "What is your only comfort, in life and death?" This as a base just won't cut it. If this is what they know of Christianity, then it will get ditched by most of them.

(BTW, Warren Cole Smith in his Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church tells us that the much emulated Willow Creek Church sees itself as "youth group for grownups". Wow!)

3) I'm tempted, every time "youth Sunday" comes, to pigeonhole some of those kids and give them a pop quiz. "Who is Jesus?"

"We saved 35 young people that night. That’s 35 teenagers saved from drugs, saved from abortion, saved from premarital sex. "

Oh, really? Two big problems this old fart Calvinist sees with that. They didn't save them. And, if saved, they are not saved from abortion, smoking and "fornical caboodling". That's the notion that Christianity is the means to a better and more moral life. Islam and the LDS and any number of other religions can give you that. If saved, those kids might yet fall into grievous sin for a season (fornication, and gluttony, and gossip, etc.). They are saved from the wrath to come. The judgment of the last day is already pronounced -- in Jesus, no condemnation.

threegirldad said...

Re: the quote that Lee N Fields already mentioned, where the claim is made that 35 people were saved...

Have you noticed how people who shout "You can't know another person's heart!" the loudest suddenly acquire an amazing ability to do exactly that when looking for evidence to justify their ministry methods?

Brian said...

I couldn't agree more. This is a perfect example of the wrong direction youth ministry has been headed in more many years. I suspect these activities have more to do with the personalities and maturity of the leaders than any thoughtful decision about the needs of the youth.

Solameanie said...

I have to wonder how much of this comes out of California-based Youth Specialties (the late Mike Yaconelli's ministry). I attended one of their youth workshops back in the early 1980s, and was concerned then with some of their material. Given their influence among youth ministers these days, I'd be curious to know what their viewpoint is on this stuff, and whether they advocate it.

Brian said...

As someone doing some writing for Youth Specialties right now, I can tell you that their leadership is moving completely away from this approach to youth ministry. They have acknowledged that in the past some of their resources and seminars have been part of the problem, or at least were following the trend that results in the sort of extreme stuff we see in this story. But they are now moving toward a much more thoughtful, less-programmed, more community and mission-focused understanding of ministry with youth.

Solameanie said...

Praise God for that. That's good to know.

From my vantage point, some of the youth leaders I know say that their young people are hungry for biblical truth, and DON'T want to be entertained. If that is indeed the case, then those who are engaging in the gross-out entertainment model are really heading off in the wrong direction.