Age-based Ministries Are Destroying the Church?

You are destroying the church. At least, you are if your church has age-based programs like Sunday school classes youth ministries. This is according to a new video put out by the National Center for Family Integrated Churches. The video is well-done, provocative, and worth watching. But, even though I’m sympathetic to some of its arguments, the video itself is quite flawed.

As soon as I saw the video, I passed it along to Ron Marrs, who directs the youth ministry program at Western Seminary. And, I asked him to offer his thoughts.You can watch the video below for free until September. So, check it out and then see Ron’s comments below.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

What I Agree with in the Movie

  1. Parents are to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
  2. Many parents have abandoned their discipleship responsibilities.
  3. Churches need to help parents disciple their children.
  4. The Bible is the absolute authority for our Christian practice.

Having said that, here are a variety of things that concern  me about the movie.

Problem #1: It Uses Some Flawed Arguments

1. I give you statistics to convince you how we are failing to raise our youth to follow Christ.

The most prevalent statistic is a bogus statistic that appeared in a report by the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life in June 2002: “88 percent of the children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.”  I tracked down the source of this statement and found it to be the result of a meeting of youth pastors sitting around speculating on a percentage of students who are in church after being involved in church youth ministries.

This “88 percent” quote has been used for nine years to fuel much of this discussion!  I have been pushing back for about 5 years, writing to speakers and authors on this and other statistics being used in the debate.

Check out my article “Stop Abusing Stats” for more on this use of statistics and my response to the issues.

2. I blame a program or philosophy of ministry in the church for the crisis.

In this case, the “straw man” youth ministry is attacked as the culprit.  This youth ministry is all about fun and games.  This youth ministry takes students to worldly sounding Christian rock concerts.  Youth pastors don’t teach the young earth perspective on creation, therefore the Bible is undermined as the absolute source of truth.

In fact, there are numerous youth ministries and church families of which I am aware that produce strong Christ-followers.

3. I tell you that my philosophy, seminar, conference, book will “save the day.”

Research is seldom cited that attempt to explain the causes of the rejection of the faith although research is being done in this area.  There is no connection between quality research and solving the “crisis.”

The solution to the crisis is following my philosophy of ministry.  Mine is biblical and yours is not

Problem #2: The Movie’s Arguments Don’t Support Its Conclusion

Here are (not nearly all) of the movie’s main arguments:

    1. Youth ministry is not found in the Bible.
    2. Youth ministry flows out of ungodly, evolutionary educational philosophy adopted by the church.
    3. To continue youth ministry it is to corrupt the church.
    4. There is no age segregation in the church gatherings of the New Testament.
    5. Fathers are to disciple their children. This is the only pattern justified by a reading of Scripture.

Therefore, age-segregated groupings in church goes against Scripture. Youth groups must cease.

There are so many logical fallacies and anecdotal evidence used to make these arguments that it is difficult to know where to start.  So, I’ll offer just some quick thoughts. If you need more convincing, let me know in the comments and maybe I’ll write some further posts.

  1. Isn’t it true that when a person comes to Christ that they are to be equipped by the entire Body of Christ as articulated in Ephesians 4:1-16?  Parents are to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).  The church is responsible to disciple the parents in such a way that they are able and motivated to obey this command.
  2. Who will reach the millions of teenagers who are not in Christian homes?  Much of the discussion surrounding youth ministry in the church centers on taking care of our church family kids.  This is critical.  But who will move into the lives of the unsaved youth?  They tried to address this issue but the recommendation was not compelling to me.
  3. Church leadership and parents will be wise to truly collaborate in the nurturing of children in the church and reaching students outside the church family to see youth respond to the Gospel in faith and grow in their faith.  I am concerned that products like this do not enhance problem-solving and strategic planning in the church.

What do you think? Does the video have a point? Are age-based ministries harming the church? Or, do you think that there’s a role for them in a healthy church?

(You may also be interested in Tim Challies interesting review of the movie.)

[Scientia et Sapientia is sponsored by the Master of Theology (Th.M.) program at Western Seminary. It’s an open forum, so please feel free to join the discussion.]

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on July 21, 2011, in Ministry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Thank you for linking to this video and tackling it in your post. I’m still mulling over the ideas but I find the topic extremely relevant. I see many of the things pointed out in the video in my job as a public school teacher, not just in church.

    • That’s a great point. I hadn’t thought about it from the school angle, but I know why wife deals with many of the same issues in her job as well.

  2. I agree with Ron & Tim Challies. I think the “Divided” movie should’ve spent less time & money on cinematography, editing, and visiting the intellectuals from the FIC & more time thinking about how they could accurately represent the other side. I feel like I just watched a Michael Moore documentary. I was almost duped into believing a very one-sided argument where the other side looks like idiots. Age segregated ministry is destroying the church? Really? The sequel will be how microphones and air conditioning aren’t biblical and thus destroying the church too. And btw: I am a regulative principle guy…and I don’t think any of the people in this video really understand the regulative principle.

    • I was thinking the same thing. If the Wright brothers were pagan, does that mean I can’t fly in a plane to do mission work?

  3. Mary Ann Jensen

    If it were not for caring adults who stopped by my unchurched home every Sunday to drive me to Sunday School and later to youth group, I would not have heard the gospel, or been discipled in the faith, or pursued an education. That “youth group” became my group of safe friends who encouraged me to follow the Lord, and have healthy fun instead of joining the keggers, etc. so prevelant in my small town high school. The adults who supported the youth group (and, yes, worked WITH the youth pastor) had me in their home for dinners, gave me books to read, discussed them with me and greatly enouraged me in the Lord. I’m all for teaching dads to disciple their children but strangely absent from this film is any mention of the mother’s contribution. Also interesting is how a principle is misinterpreted as a promise (Proverbs 22:6).

    • Amen on your comment about mothers. I always find it distressing when these discussions focus exclusively on fathers in the discipleship process. Even if you have a complementation view of husband/wife roles, that’s no reason to neglect the fundamental importance of both parents in the formation of their children.

  4. From Ron Marrs:

    A long time Young Life leader in the Portland area (Gail Grimston) wrote this to me. I respect her highly and so appreciate her love for students in need of Christ.

    Hi Ron,

    I was interested to read and see all this material. I guess the majority of the kids I was with over 47 years in ministry either had no father, the father was not interested in Christian things, he was too busy,and it goes on and on. I really do believe the “whole” church should be involved in some way but where does that leave people like me (my father died when I was 17-my mother when I was 14) and I did not marry. I know the community of Christ was very important to my growth and many people were involved. The young people of today are very fragmented and involved in many things-and yes they need adults to love them and walk with them when there is no family to do that.

    I have always wondered why churches “discriminated” by age sometimes.The people who have the most disposable time are young single adults and sometimes the people who need the most help are young mothers with young children and they need conversation with people who could help (young adults,single older adults and married couples who have no children at home.) Many a time my dropping by to say hi to a young mother has “saved” her day or staying with her kids for a hour so she can meet a friend. ….Blessings, Gail

  5. Thank you for linking the video. I guess if you talk fast enough, loud enough, and passionately enough it makes your argument true. The video is very one sided. I kept yelling at the screen for them to interview someone with intelligence who would represent me! I have been a youth pastor for many years. I never saw my place in ministry as a substitute for the parents’ role in the discipleship of their children. I thought it was interesting near the end of the movie the narrator asked the question about what to do with children/students who aren’t from christian homes. The guy being interview side stepped the question and responded that we “have to get our fathers to disciple their kids”. Great answer, now answer the question!

    Why does it have to be all or nothing? There is a place for the church to engage with children and students. There is a place for the church to come alongside the parent and help them disciple their children. Most of all there is a place for the church to go out and reach the lost ones. This is what I call youth ministry. This is what I have given my life too and will continue bleed for until Jesus comes.

    • That does seem to be the key problem. When I was a youth pastor, I wrestled with many of the same issues, wondering if I needed to focus more directly on family-based ministry. But, I quickly recognized that this was going to be a problem given that nearly 2/3 of our students came from non-Christian homes. I reached out to their families, of course, but I couldn’t just neglect their spiritual growth while waiting for their parents to figure things out.

    • I’m with you,Matt

  6. Random thots, I’ve been convinced before this that my role for now as a youth pastor (and the past 18 years of ymin) is a stop gap measure. I feel called to go after Dads and help them get a grip on discipling their kids. I have 6 of my own kids and this video has got me started on a new course to open the word regularly with my kids.
    This video, as has been stated, doesn’t deal with my role in taking kids from outside of the church and from broken homes and modeling what God the Father is like. I’m not threatened by the video personally as I don’t run the type youth ministry they are describing.
    Who is going to show these dads how to walk as Christ did and live out a missional life?

  7. Another response from a youth pastor friend here in Portland, Erik Cave. I like what he says.

    Hey Ron,

    I mentioned before that I saw the video and it made me mad. Here are some more thought out impressions:

    I didn’t like the tenor of the video. It felt like a propaganda piece much like what is produced by Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine) and Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me). The premise that they are going to objectively find the truth is a joke quickly revealed by their vigorous promotion of their preconceived agenda. From the quick snippets from interviewees that string together to make a point to the use of the worst examples of youth ministry (A Family Force 5 Concert) to the utter lack of a counter voice or argument make this video the farthest thing from a true documentary.

    I liked that they exposed the American church family’s neglect of discipling their own children. This is a huge issue that I am trying to confront every day as a youth pastor. The more I do so the more I see how really bad it is. I wish I could somehow strip this message out of the video cutting out all the anti-youth ministry propaganda. If I could I would show it to every parent that was willing.

    I didn’t like that they focused on teenagers. Throughout the video I kept thinking, “This is a criticism of the church’s lack of discipling children more than teens.” In fact, every verse quoted in the video used the word children. A huge reason church teens struggle to keep their faith is that they were not taught how to live their faith as children. This video made a big deal about how youth ministry isn’t in the Bible, but then didn’t even mention that adolescence is a very real modern phenomenon also not in the Bible. Do the makers of this video want the church to ignore the fact of adolescence?

    I didn’t like that they ignored the non-churched and churched, but being raised by non-dedicated Christians, teenagers. There was one line that said a father dedicated to discipling their teen would also invite in the neighbors who are non-Christians to hear about God. According to this philosophy every teenager not associated with family like this will be ignored, never hear the gospel, and never given a discipleship opportunity. If this is really thought through, isn’t a father gathering all his teenager’s non believing friends to their house to disciple them ultimately youth ministry anyway?

    I didn’t like the sexist undertones. I believe one of the hidden agendas of the video is promoting traditional gender roles in the home. The term father was exclusively used for the person who is to be discipling children. Never was mother or even parent used. Regardless of gender role arguments, how are single moms or moms with non-dedicated husbands to respond to this message?

    Ok, that is enough for me. I am ultimately glad I watched the video because it made me think and really lit a fire under me on the issue of parents neglecting their discipling role with their teens. However, I wouldn’t recommend the video to anyone who I didn’t trust to have very strong critical thinking skills.

    Erik Cave

    First Covenant Church

    • I think Erik has some great comments here. Indeed, it raises the question of whether the criticisms of youth ministry aren’t really criticisms of the church as a whole and its struggled with discipleship at every level. Can we really say that the American church is succeeding with the discipleship of children and adults? If not, why so much criticism of how we’re discipling teenagers? To the extent that youth ministry is struggling, it seems like a reflection of broader and more systemic problems.

    • I really appreciate what Erik wrote here. The makers of this film seem to have completely forgotten that adolescence is a modern phenomenon. Culture has drastically changed from New Testament times and we cannot ignore that. It’s foolish to try to run the church as if we were living in 40 A.D. oblivious to the culture and needs around us. We of course have a lot to learn from the early church and would do well to model our ministries after the examples in scripture, but that all must be translated into our current times. The early church didn’t “need” youth ministry because by their teenage years they were considered adults, had entered the work force, and were most likely soon to have families of their own.

      I also enjoyed Erik’s comment about the father gathering his teenage son’s friends for discipleship. Yep, that’s youth ministry right there.

    • Yeah, I would agree with Erik’s comments about the tenor of the movie. I also do not like biased rhetoric masquerading as objective research. I think the maker lacked integrity in the way the sides were presented as well as how the approach was engineered to seem as if he was on a journey to find the “culprit” for the problems of youth today.

      It is unfortunate because there are also some good points that should be embraced. We should definitely take a critical eye toward some of the things we do as youth leaders. We absolutely should be willing to let ourselves be open scrutiny as we need to think about what type of disciples we will raise and whether we will be Biblical in our goals and our methods.

      I would agree there are issues. But I would say the issues are not in youth ministry, but bad youth ministry.

  8. As a youth leader I am not surprised at the idea, we have been shoved to the back of the church, been the ones who ruined the carpet, stood on the chairs and cost too much money. Why would we not come under attack here? The next move in the church WILL come from the youth (look at the Great Awakening and other revivals) so satan would love to take it out before it gets started. If you are going to wait for parents to raise up their children in the Lord the church is dead. Rarely do I see families who can do this from start to finish but lets kill off youth ministry even though Acts tells us that everyone “gave as was needed.” It was this line of crap that ran me out of church as a youth (“christian rock is a contradiction of terms”).
    As a theologian the line of thinking in “raise up your child…” ended in the Jewish culture at 15 when the young man was sent to either seminary or apprentice school. To follow this line of thinking we should remove all young girls from school, do away with high school and boot these youngsters out at 15. While we are at it the church as we know it did not exist but rather was a meeting in homes therefore the church building and property should be sold off and the money given to the poor. Pastors who are being paid should cease and like Paul support themselves. How far must we go?

  9. Wow, i’ve only seen 17 mins and already my head is spinning. of course parents are to be responsible for training. (that doesn’t mean it is happenning–shoulda, coulda, woulda…) As for youth ministry, i’ve been part of youth ministry. i believe it is a viable, realistic and even Christian practice. but not all ministry is good. same with any ministry, program or event at any age! I’ve been disheartened by how YM is done and what is actually acceptable by suppossedly mature, experienced christians. people want ‘events’ and ‘big’ programs. its ok if a ‘bubbly’ person is in charge–even if they have no leadership gifts. even if they don’t (by their own admission as well as it being obvious) don’t have a life in prayer or bible study for themselves. someone wanting to have an actual ministry with discipleship and learning, training, and consistently spiritually based and bible based foundation and programing—there was NO tolerance for; no time for; no commitment for. that is a problem. but it is not YM’s problem, it is a general, across the board problem. Have we really accepted Christ? Are we living day to day in Christ and for Christ? Are we too successfull to need the Lord? Too embarrased to bring the Lord with us wherever we go? i see so many are! 😦

    I think some of this conversation is sad. There is a difference between doctrine and principle. We never compromise on either. Doctrine is what it is–in any church. Principle is more like something we must keep but can change from time to time and place to place in accordance with the needs of the people at that time. Similar to how God spoke to people in the bible and used what was familiar to them to help them understand. i don’t see many things in the bible. God doesn’t always say we can specifically do or not do a specific thing. But from the principles in the bible and much prayer, we can be guided in these things. i do believe that as a whole family we should be together in church at worship for various reasons. However, i’ve seen some examples of children’s church that seemed to work for a group of people. i also do believe that as we are a church at study, as we are learning more about the Lord and His will for His, His loveletter to us and more—it is best understood at a level we can each understand. More so, that we should have a personal knowledge & relationship with God and understanding of His word and will for us. to achieve this (in addition to the home training that SHOULD be given) is the Sabbath School in the church. even tweens and teens are in a different place & possible level of understanding. much less toddlers and young adults. youth leaders NEVER take the place of parents nor should they and nor could they if the parents existed, were involved with and open to their children. Church COMPLIMENTS the learning and training of the home and a 3rd strand of this influence is the Christian school. These 3 should work together, not usurp any of the others responsibilites/duties. seems all the influencial speakers here are of the same opinion as person on ‘journey to learn/figure things out’. Where is the opposite side’s voice? where is the middle grounds voice? Are there ANY successful groups or churches save the ones of those who are being interviewed? I completely agree that we are being bombarded with “this is my opinion and i say its not biblical.” that it leaves many questions and no true answers. is it meant to make us question the way we ‘do church’? the way we reach people for christ? I believe we should already be working with families and training parents – both of them! One comment was we should do something radically different. but just before that also said YM is radically different but not biblical. (just not using the word radical) One of the speakers said when these things we trust in failed us…. I say these things are tools and we should be trusting in the Lord in all things! and in all things we are to be united – even if we have YM we
    can be united. i find this a truly sad and incomplete investigation. i don’t think it’s ever wrong to ask questions and desire truth in the answers. i do think this is sorely lacking in proper presentation of topic/issues and the only answer given the entire time–from their own point of view, is that YM is not biblical so we should stop it. Huh!?! i think there is definitely a potential of this doing more harm than good; however, i just wouldn’t pass it on to anyone (generally speaking). i know i’ve made a bunch of statements that address many different parts of the video. hoping if you’ve seen it you’ll understand what i’m talking about. i didn’t take the time to put my thoughts and points together nicely but i found it difficult not to respond!

  10. where is spoke of principle–i didn’t mean we can change the principle but that there are times we can do things differently, perhaps use different methods to carry out the prinicple. 🙂

  11. From Ron Marrs: Another response from a veteran youth pastor, friend of mine, Joe Castaneda, on August 15, 2011:

    Ron:

    Man, I really am getting riled up watching the movie Divided.

    1. I hate the bludgeoning of youth ministry by calling it “anti-bibilical” using arguments from silence. Stating that “Paul was writing to the children” with vague biblical references is just as appalling to me as youth guys justifying youth ministry by saying Jesus started the first youth group. Both are pretty offensive. When Jesus said to let the children come to Him was he advocating family-based church ministry or helping the disciples see that everyone could receive salvation — even the children. When Ephesians six was written, was Paul rebuking or de-authorizing youth ministry?

    2. I hate that well-educated, good-thinking advocates of home church are interviewed, while the primary representation of those in pro-youth were students. When Walt Mueller is interviewed, the question was skewed to expose a problem — not to advocate for youth ministry. I’m confident if I interviewed students in family based churches, some of them would express less-than-representative statements about the family model.

    3. I hate the stereotype youth pastor that is all about fun and games “and maybe a Bible-themed lesson”. I know those guys exist and probably more than I wish. But no credence is given to the guys in the trenches who are working with families, who are working with the fatherless and motherless, who are working with the practical-orphans, who are pointing children to the Word of God and watching them grow up to serve Him all over the world. No credence is given to those who are working with parents not against them; those who are uniting the generations not dividing them. I think I could make just as large a stereotype of the home church model pointing to those with extreme conservative views. Family Integrated churches here in the NW that have eliminated evangelism, that believe the lost will be won when they come to their church, that impose Galatian-like external ‘laws’ that govern spirituality (ie. don’t eat meat, women must wear long dresses etc…). It would be just as unfair for me to use those as base models of integrated family ministry as it is for this guy to use the stereotype youth pastor as the base model for youth ministry.

    4. I hate the argument that “there was never an office for youth ministry” in the Bible. There was no “family pastor” either. There were pastors and they were given for the purpose of equipping and preparing the Body for service — the infrastructure of that seems to be conspicuously silent leaving the opportunity (at least the possibility) for great variety in how Ephesians four would be implemented. These guys are making it either or and I don’t understand why they can’t accept both/and.

    5. I hate that the FIC is idealized in this video — apparently they have no issues reaching the lost youth of our culture. However, I have NEVER seen a family integrated church that is taking on the issue of fatherlessness in our youth. I’m not saying that individual families are stepping up, but the FIC is failing as much as anyone. The idyllic “the fathers should become fathers to the fatherless” sounds wonderful…but it’s not happening at any level. I bet that the majority of youth pastors would agree that the family still has the greatest impact on students today. Our 3-4 hours a week isn’t intended to be a replacement for parents; true youth ministry supports the efforts of families and God’s Word.

    Ok, I think I’ve spewed enough. I don’t understand why advocates of the FIC have to rampage against others. I don’t see a lot of traditional youth ministry assaulting the practices, flaws and heresies of the FIC. Just do your thing and praise God if souls are won and lives are changed for the Kingdom. It seems like the FIC model plays heavily on misunderstandings of Jewish culture and leans hard toward “preserving a remnant” rather than reaching the lost or building the Kingdom.

    Ok, really, enough spewing. I look forward to discussing this more thoroughly with you soon! Blessings on you Ron!

    Joe

  12. If everyone was a wholehearted disciple of Christ the film makers’ view on church is correct. Unfortunately we are not there yet. I’m assuming that these churches have almost no impact in their community on those who do not yet believe. They are content to take their light and hide it in their church (packed with people just like them) and hide it in their home school communities.

    I am a youth pastor and my number one priority is to partner with parents in helping them raise life long wholehearted disciples of Christ. There is no such thing as a wholehearted disciple of Christ who doesn’t relationally reach out to non-believers. This method comes across as, “take care of your own and pray that somehow others will come to Christ.”

    There is a middle ground. Don’t replace parents, partner with them, it is possible.

    Thank you for challenging me to do a better job partnering with parents. But really it was like watching an ad for a prescription medication without the fast talking side affects guy at the end. I would love to see the other side of this argument.

    Oh… Judging whether a student really believes in God by their view on how God created is just dumb. People who believe they know in detail the intricacy of God’s creation come off just as arrogant as those who speak with certainty of the earth’s multi-billion year lifetime. (this is coming from a person who personally believes in a young earth/six day creation) Great film, but that part should have hit the editing room floor.

    Nice job Ron

  13. I find myself very passionate about the things I agree with AND disagree with in this video. I whole-heartedly agree that it is the responsibility of the parents to disciple their children and raise them up in the fear of the Lord. Too often I too see parents outsourcing their responsibility to me as a youth leader and to others. Discipleship is key to the success of the church as a whole and no one would disagree that that needs to start in the home. I think the real failure is in the church’s inability to equip Christ followers to do discipleship more than in having a youth ministry.

    At our church, the youth group meets a real need in my opinion. Without it, I am certain that all of our youth would either cease to attend any religious meeting, or would find another youth group to go. We go to a Chinese church where almost all of the parents have immigrated to the U.S. The youth group and adult fellowship groups all meet on Friday night (at church but in separate areas). Every once in awhile we’ll meet as a combined group for special events. The youth attendance is always low those Fridays. These meetings are often conducted in both Mandarin and English and the teens get exhausted and bored. Many of them can speak Mandarin, but who wants to listen to a message twice? And the teens who don’t, just feel lost. Since our teens have grown up in the U.S., English has become their heart language. Youth group becomes a very important place for our teens to learn about Jesus and faith in the English language, and to be able to connect to other Asian peers. In a society where they are minorities, it’s good for them to have a place where they feel they belong.

  14. There is a lot we can say about the very flawed nature of the arguments in the movie. 10 minutes in, you can feel veneer of subjective agenda pushing. We can say a lot about but it, but I would also like to say there were good critical things that I think we can take away and mull over.

    The movie does bring up good topics about discipleship within the home. As a youth leader, I’ve noticed that there is no match to my influence compared to the parents. When the parents are spiritual and real in their faith, the students are. Unfortunately, the movie gives no real strategy or thinking for students who do not have that within their home. But it is a good point nevertheless. I think a good take away would be to think about how to partner with parents more in youth ministry. I really don’t think removing youth ministry is the key, but making sure it is integrated into the fabric of church life.

    Again, I mentioned this in an earlier post, but the issue is not youth ministry, but bad youth ministry. Youth ministry can be self-serving. Youth ministry can lead students into a false sense of spirituality and even salvation. But that is true for any ministry.

  15. Roberta Arington

    We went to a church for many years and watched it go from a thriving baby boom youth group church to a empty nesters church and everone stood around scratched their heads and wondered why. It eventually closed.When we went to the next church we saw the same pattern of children growing up and leaving the church. My husband and I decided to pray and search scripture so that we might avoid making some of the same mistakes. As we search scripture we discovered the picture of child disciplship in the Bible looked nothing like what we experienced in the church. When my oldest was only 8 years old (before we had ever heard of family integrated churches) we pulled her and my son out of sunday school and junior church began discipling them ourselves. We are still at that second church which is now a empty nesters church again except for my five children age 12 to 25 and another family who choose to pull their two children out as well because of our counsel. Some of those children did go off to college but most just walked away from their faith.I think it is interesting that the more the Church works at bigger and better programs to reach the youth the more they fall away. God does have a solution for youth in unsaved families. God Himself puts the lonely in families.Job was known to take in the needy.Instead of looking to man’s wisdom and the pattern of this world for guidance did you ever think of consulting God’s word for why youth walk away from their faith? Did you ever consider that plan B is just not as good as God’s plan for discipling children? Maybe that is why God is not blessing youth ministries. Deut.6:4

  16. Roberta, I am grateful that you have taken seriously God’s commands to disciple your children. I get distressed, however, when we discuss issues in terms of families vs. the church youth ministry. The youth leaders in my church and in my circles of youth pastors view themselves as part of the same team to raise children in the Lord. They are also uniting to reach unchurched students with the Gospel.

    One of my arguments is that once a person is a Christian, no matter what the age, they are part of the Body of Christ to be ministered to by all the members of the body. Eph. 4 is my go to passage for the argument (as well ast 1 Cor 12, 14). I wonder if people think I’m denigrating the responsibility of parents to raise their children in the Lord when I talk like this, but I am concerned that Christian parents might miss the Body responsibility for every believer no matter what their age. I am crying out for a healthy collaboration between youth ministry personnel and parents.

    I would love to hear stories about unchurched children and youth being brought into families as you mentioned in your post. I’m afraid I have not heard those testimonies, except I have seen in my church the families who are bringing foster children into their homes. It’s a wonderful ministry to the lonely.

    Thanks, Roberta, for engaging in this discussion.

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