A 50-Year Failed Experiment?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by HAMel, Jul 31, 2011.

  1. HAMel

    HAMel
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    What do you think?

    Modern Youth Ministry a '50-Year Failed Experiment,' Say Pastors

    A group of pastors and former youth ministry leaders suggest that today’s youth ministries should be disbanded, calling the common practice of separating congregations by age for worship and Bible study "unbiblical."

    The church leaders state their case in the documentary film, “Divided: Is Age-Segregated Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church?”

    The film is produced by the National Center for Family Integrated Churches in association with LeClerc Brothers Motion Pictures. The producers released the documentary earlier this month online, and have made it available for free until Sept. 15.

    “Divided” follows “edgy twenty-something” Christian filmmaker Philip LeClerc on a quest to find answers to why his generation is increasingly turning away from attending church. Recent surveys have shown that as many as 85 percent of young people will leave the church and many never return.

    NCFIC Director Scott T. Brown told The Christian Post that today’s modern concept of youth ministry is a “50-year failed experiment.” Brown said that when he was a church leader in the ‘70s and ‘80s he could have been the “poster boy” for the youth ministry movement in California. However, he said he now feels that dividing children from adults at church is an unbiblical concept borrowed from humanistic philosophies.

    “The church has become divided generationally,” Brown said. “It’s not doing what Scripture prescribes and is actually doing something foreign to Scripture by dividing people by age or by life stage.”

    “The whole point of ‘Divided’ is that God has spoken clearly about the discipleship of youth in the Bible,” he explained. “Scripture is sufficient. It’s time to get beyond the age of modern, systematic age-segregated youth ministry. We need to put it aside.”

    Former youth pastor Boyd Dellinger, who is now the lead pastor of Heritage Bible Fellowship in Fayetteville, N.C., is one of several church leaders interviewed in the film. Dellinger said that by all of today’s standards he was once a successful youth pastor.

    “I look back and realize I did more harm to families than I ever imagined,” Dellinger says in the film. “I see that more as I look back because I was usurping the authority of parents, especially fathers by having their children’s hearts turn towards me – with their permission.”

    “Today, I can make more of a difference in the lives of young people through the biblical standards of fathers turning their hearts towards their children,” he adds.

    Dellinger doesn’t question the good intentions of youth ministry leaders today and their desire for youth to know Jesus. He just questions the method.

    “We have to go back to what does the Bible say? There’s something fundamentally wrong with the church’s drive to say we can do a better job of raising your children than you can,” Dellinger highlights. “God has appointed fathers to lead their children; not for someone else to do it just because they have a college degree or some seminary training. That does not qualify someone to all of a sudden become the spiritual leader of your family.”

    More than 750 churches have signed onto a confession posted online by NCFIC that points to the desire of having more age-integrated discipleship, according to Brown. He sees this manifest itself in churches in the same way it does in Scripture.

    In the paradigm shift, Brown said churches would have “the older gathering together with the younger for worship, celebration, and instruction. It would look like what happened in Deuteronomy 12 where Moses commands the parents to bring whole families to come and worship and sacrifice.”

    “It’s the only pattern you see in Scripture. You never see Moses, or Nehemiah, or Jesus, or the apostle Paul, or anyone ever segregating people by age. On the contrary, integrated discipleship is really an un-disputable pattern of Scripture.”


    http://www.christianpost.com/news/m...-50-year-failed-experiment-say-pastors-52964/
     
  2. Salty

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    That might be good for Godly families - but many, many SS kids come from non-Christian homes.

    Now for those families who attend these "non-Biblical" Sunday Schools - Parents - how often to you ask what you kids learn in Sunday School - Do you work with them on their Sunday School lessons during the week? Or do YOU leave it to the church?

    For those who think that there should be only one Sunday School class with the entire family ( age 6-18) attending - I would assume you do the same thing when you attend college - you take your kids out of elementary school and bring them to the college classes you attend. Right?

    I beleive that age appropriate Sunday School classes can be an excellent tool for both Chrisitan kids (even PK's) and non-Chrisitan kids - but as in any activity there can be extremes and those extremes should be avoided.

    I do see some of the concerns - that a youth minstry can almost spin off to a seperate organization unto itelf. However, a successful youth minister will be working with the families - not against them
     
  3. Aaron

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    Can't argue with that.
     
  4. Aaron

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    It was said of John the Baptist that he would turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest God come and smite the earth with a curse.
     
  5. freeatlast

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    I think it is a failed experiment because of in the effort the church has become like those who they seek to bring to the Lord by taking on their culture instead of bringing them into the culture of the saved.

    "Our goal is not to make ourselves, our churches, or (heaven forbid) our message relevant to any particular culture of the world. Rather, we preach and learn and live the culture of heaven, right here on earth. What people need--whether it's the YRRs, the new atheists, the Hindus, or anyone--what people need is the faithful proclamation of God's Word.
    And here is the effect: When an "unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you" (1 Cor. 14:24-25)."
    Allen GTY
     
  6. HAMel

    HAMel
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    Hey Aaron. Are you the Aaron I know?
     
  7. Nicholas25

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    I am a God called youth minister and I do have many opinions on youth ministry. So often youth are taught by people who do not have the ability and/or desire to teach the scripture. Because of this many youth have very little biblical knowledge. Parents who are not deeply committed to their local chuch has also hurt youth ministries. I have a burden for my youth group, but I understand most teens are not going to come if they are not made to by their parents. I was made to attend as a child, and I am very thankful, although I was not always then. As far as the seperation by age, I think it's needed because youth can have the scripture broke down for them, but I am seeing so many churches feature youth ministries that do not involve having the youth spend anytime other than the Sunday morn service in the sanctuary. This is another reason youth leave the church after graduating from youth group. They feel out of place in the church sanctuary in a regular church service because they never spend much time in them. I hope all of this does make sense.
     
  8. Don

    Don
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    This is a special topic for me right now. The church I currently attend separates out the younger folks quite a bit. For example, Wednesday evenings, the sixth-grade and under crowd are encouraged to be in their group; and recently, the teenagers started going with the youth pastor, leaving only the "adults" in the Wednesday evening service.

    The only service where family members are all together is the Sunday evening service.

    In other words, the emphasis of this particular church is not on families.

    No, I haven't talked to anyone in the church about it yet. The pastor was just recently voted in, and just started these changes. I'm giving it a little more time to see how things fall out. I may be the only one with a varying viewpoint on this, in which case it would be incumbent on me to move along, instead of making waves in the church.
     
  9. nodak

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    I'm all for age graded (and like gender separated also) SS.

    My grandchild (7) seems to learn more when that class is closed making it necessary to follow grandma to my class.

    But worship services? I prefer a nursery for the nursing babies (with mom going out to it with them as needed) and otherwise the whole family worshiping together.
     
  10. Aaron

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    I don't know. Are you in the semiconductor industry?
     
  11. J.D.

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    :applause::applause::applause::applause:
    [applauding the epiphany, not applauding "fifity years" (actually it's been more like a hundred and fifty years) of not doing it God's way]
     
    #11 J.D., Jul 31, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2011
  12. preachinjesus

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    I'd challenge the OP. We have some pretty clear empirical data that there have been tremendous gains accomplished in present day student/youth ministries as they are structured and function. Countless lives have been touched and God's Kingdom strengthened through this model.

    I am thankful for the ministry model and see it working well in the church where I serve. We have about 300 youth which show up twice a week for our functions. This year we'll send nearly 700 to the summer camp. Lots of great things happening here and I'm encouraged by what I'm seeing. :)

    Oh, and I challenge (as I have in print and at conferences) the 85% statement in the OP. This isn't accurate and has been thoroughly refuted elsewhere. We are seeing a significant movement in the younger generation to embracing, taking ownership, and growing their individual faith. Many of the fastest growing churches in America are being led by and supported by this generation. There are really good things happening all over. :)
     
  13. freeatlast

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    Not according to the studies I find. How about giving those studies that prove your statements. Everything I find says it is between 50 to 80 percent walk away after making some sort of profession.
    http://www.conversantlife.com/theology/how-many-youth-are-leaving-the-church#mce_temp_url#
     
  14. HAMel

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    I don't know. Are you in the semiconductor industry?

    No, I'm in the full-retirement industry. :laugh:

    So, I guess you're not who I thought. I introduced a friend of mine, another Aaron, to this forum and was just checking.
     
  15. rbell

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    This is an outstanding view...one which I have tried to carry out in my 20+years of student ministry.

    I could argue numbers if I wished...there are many, many professions of faith, full-time ministers, missionaries on every continent (except Antarctica :D)...but of course, those will be explained away.

    Folks who decide a particular ministry is invalid, or spawned of the devil, or a waste of time...will not be persuaded, no matter if Jesus Himself vouches for it.

    People hear "youth ministry," and they come to some foregone conclusions. Some of them are specious. Others are overgeneralizations from some pretty sorry examples (and I'll be the first to admit...there are some mighty sorry examples of youth ministers out there!). Still others are simply vocalizations of "I know better than anyone else how to do God's work." It doesn't even matter if one patterns their ministry to teens after the Scriptures themselves...there are those (and it's obvious as to who it is) who for whatever reason feel the need to denigrate the calling by God on the life of another.

    Fine with me. I don't answer to those whose spiritual gift is criticism, anyway...
     
  16. michael-acts17:11

    michael-acts17:11
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    Would anyone apply the OP line of thinking to preaching services? The retention rate of adults isn't any better. A very small percentage of church visitors & new members remain in the church. Preaching also hasn't produced deep Christians. Countless believers sit through hundreds of hours of sermons every year & yet are still unable to give a credible defense of their beliefs. Now, if you were to say that both adult & child "worship" meetings should be disbanded in lieu of meaningful Bible studies I would agree.

    My 10yr old has asked me why preaching is always so shallow. She has even corrected his proof-texting of Scripture; pointing out the true meaning of the text on a couple of occasions. Sermon-based church is a failed experiment as well. Most believers are no more equipped to defend their faith after decades of church attendance than when they were first saved. I have known pastors who could not defend some of what they have taught from the pulpit. "Preaching" the Word & studying the Word are two very different things. Biblical preaching is for the lost & teaching is for the regenerate.
     
  17. HAMel

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    Would anyone apply the OP line of thinking to preaching services? The retention rate of adults isn't any better. A very small percentage of church visitors & new members remain in the church.

    I'm of the opinion that way too many preachers are constantly causing way too many people to doubt their salvation simply because of the way they preach. Preachers for the most part are not preaching so as to teach and to enlighten but rather..., causing folks to doubt their own salvation.

    Okay, let me have it. I'm waiting.
     
  18. michael-acts17:11

    michael-acts17:11
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    I would agree with you with the caveat that it is their inability to properly interpret & teach God's Word that is confusing the people. Preachers are little more than public speakers these days. True teaching should not be lecture-based. We should discuss the text & explore every occurrence & reference of the subject within Scripture. This rarely happens because this type of study requires the pastor to give up a measure of power. Sermons are centered on a "I am right, believe what I tell you" method; while interactive study is "let's find the truth together & conform to it" method.
     
  19. Alive in Christ

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    There was a pastor on local radio here a few years ago that had become convinced that the "youth group/married group/singles group" model was simply not working, and needed to be done away with.

    He felt that the young ones were not learning from their elders, the older folk were not benefitting from the new ideas of the youngsters, the men were not learning from the women, the women were not learning from the men. etc etc etc. He also noticed the people routienly did not know the names of people that they had been fellowshipping with for years.

    In addition, he noticed the complete absence of these "niche" groups in the scriptures.

    He said they got rid of it all, and the church exploded with life. Everyone knows everyone else (by name), there is an energy to the fellowship that wasnt there before, there was true christian love being extended irregardless of age, etc etc.

    In other words, the were truly becoming "family"

    He said that when visitors speak with him, and ask "what do you have going on for the youth?"...he tells them...."CHURCH!!" :smilewinkgrin:
     
    #19 Alive in Christ, Aug 1, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2011
  20. David Lamb

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    I agree (except the "gender sepatated" bit).

    The OP didn't cause me to think of Sunday Schools, but the worship/preaching services of a church. After all, it mentioned "the practice of separating congregations by age for worship and Bible study."

    I've mentioned before that "Sunday School" here in the UK is for children. Sadly (in my view) in some UK churches, Sunday School takes place at the same time as the service, which means that the adults who are SS teachers miss out on the preaching of the Word.

    I am not saying that churches should never arrange events that are age-specific, whether for people who already are Christians, or in gospel outreach, but I find no biblical support for separating by age for worship or preaching services.
     

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