Failures Shown On Facebook

Discussion in 'Youth Forum' started by Joseph M. Smith, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. Joseph M. Smith

    Joseph M. Smith
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    I retired from my pastorate 6 1/2 years ago, which means that the young people I knew as teens in junior high or high school are now in college or beyond. I have "friended" a number of them on Facebook, and find that in too many cases their use of language, their references to their recreation, their obvious taste for alcohol, and in a couple of cases their producing children out of wedlock all suggest that we did not do a good job of producing young disciples. It is heart-sickening to think of the youth programs, the teaching, the preaching, and all that we did ... and of course most of them made professions of faith and were baptized ... yet the evidence is very negative for many of them.

    I keep quiet and do not attempt to "correct" them on Facebook. I am not their pastor any more and I know that doing so would likely at its best only correct the surface issues. The real issues are in their hearts and minds.
     
  2. annsni

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    I see this as well. It's very disheartening but then again, Jesus Himself had a number fall by the wayside at the end. All we can do is pray for them and maybe later in life they will turn back again. I've seen it happen but unfortunately not enough. :(
     
  3. mcdirector

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    After I taught at a Christian school for a while, this hit me very hard. We are teaching the right things for the most part, but it has to be real for them. Can we do something to make it real or is that something that they have to do? Students can spout back all the right answers, but applying biblical principals is not evidenced.

    I also see this with adults btw.
     
  4. Steven2006

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    Don't think that the seeds you planted were wasted and aren't important. Many of those young people may very well hit low points in life because of their actions, and will then look to the Lord for the answer to their emptiness and sorrows.

    Pray for them, and since you have already made contact with them I see nothing wrong with a nice little friendly word of encouragement with maybe a verse added to the end of the note. It might be just what one of them needs to hear.
     
  5. rbell

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    I understand your desire to not correct them (particularly publicly) or posting your thoughts directly to their wall...but please don't hesitate to tell them you care about them, and are burdened for them.

    One of our "lost sheep" that I was afraid was too far gone responded to my post of similar wording. In the last few months, God has done a great work in their life!

    But yes...having said that...it is sad to see how many simply walk away from what they have been taught.

    But seriously...God has burdened you for a reason. Please find a way to let them know...even if it's a simple, "Hey...you've been on my mind. I want you to know I'm praying for you" sent as a FB message.

    God may be wanting you to be the "bridge out!" sign that He so mercifully puts up in front of us time and time again (did I mention I have the spiritual gift of ignoring God's "Bridge Out!" signs? :D )
     
  6. ashleysdad

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    I am the Youth Pastor at the church where I serve. I totally understand the sentiment that you are expressing here. I see out youth come in on Sundays and Wednesdays and they sit and they are taught Gods word then I see how the post on FB and there are times when I want to cry in frustration. What God has been working on with me is the realization that it is not my "job" to convict hearts and change lives. That is His realm. My "job" is to faithfully and obediently teach scripture, pray for them and be a Godly influence in their lives. I have also seen countless times where right when I was tempted and actually wanting to quit as a failure that God would move and that one kid that I was tempted to give up on would suddenly open up to Gods word and a life transformation that only comes from a real encounter with Jesus would take place. As depressing as feeling like you are failing can be it is much more exciting to see something like that happen and realize that you had absolutely NOTHING to do with it!!! That is when you realize that God is in control and nothing happens that He is not aware of. When I came to realize that youth ministry became a joy and not a reason for depression! I do not mean to come across as trying to teach you anything it just seemed like you needed some encouragement. The seeds that you planted with these kids may just have not come to fruition yet. They may later in life. Regardless you were faithful and obedient. Now is the time to earnestly pray for God to take the seed that was planted and cause it to grow into a desire for Christ that only He can manufacture anyway. Praying for you my brother!
     
  7. Joseph M. Smith

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    Very helpful replies. Thank you. In its own way it is helpful to see that others face the same thing. As I reflect on this, I recognize that in some instances these young people are only repeating what they have heard at home, and that their parents -- deacons and SS teachers and choir members, etc., though they may be -- have personal and private hypocrisies too.

    I particularly like the idea of "bullet" encouragements and prayer messages as private communications. After all, these kids did let me on their Fb pages, so they must have felt connected at the time with their old pastor. I do have to be a little careful not to seem to compete with their present pastor, but I think I can manage that.

    You have reminded me too that it is never too late for a spiritual awakening. A little more than a week ago I watched my 45-year-old son-in-law being baptized! Never too late.
     
  8. rbell

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    God's put you right where you are on purpose, Joseph. He'll give you the words to say.
     
  9. tinytim

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    Been right where you are.. but don't be afraid to speak up (privately.. and truth in love).. I've had varied responses.. some come right back, some hit bottom.. (guess who gets the message on FB for help!!??).. some ignore me.. and only a couple.. (One a deacon's daughter from another church). ... defriended me.

    I was thinking about this the other night... 5 yrs ago, the youth and college students that were doing this (And you know they were) were hiding it and pastors, and youth pastors never got to see their darkside because FB wasn't around.. But today, We should thank God for FB, because it gives us a glimpse of what their life is really like, and it allows us to be able to help them..

    OH, and don't be afraid to post your honest feelings either.. I have had some great response from people who thanks me for being an honest preacher, and not one that hides behind a mask of righteousness.. .

    Today's 20 somethings, and 30 somethings, want to see that their preacher is open, honest, and transparent.. They know we aren't perfect either, so they want to see how to deal with imperfections the right way.
     
  10. rbell

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    (gasp)

    Tim, when did you acheive imperfection!

    I had no idea!!

    :D
     
  11. tinytim

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    You should know, you taught me how~!!!!
     
  12. SaggyWoman

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    I have seen so many children grow up as well, with the investment given to them not only by their families but also by the church, just to live a life not fulfilling in the Lord.

    BUT! Opportunities given should be taken....... there are ways to use face book and other means to care for the flock.
     
  13. Joseph M. Smith

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    My qualms remain: (1) That these young people are not, technically, "my" flock anymore, although as a pastor and a Christian I do acknowledge my responsibility does not fully end because of retirement; and (2) I do not want just to focus on external symptoms ("You shouldn't be using words like that') but want to get them to consider their relationship to Christ and their own core values.

    The beat does go on ... thanks to Facebook's pattern of suggesting new friends, based on those whom I have already befriended, I am seeing more of my church's youth listed, particularly those who are younger than the first round I saw. The good news in all of that is that I do see that these young people have remained connected with one another; they have not walked away from their church friends.

    I think one thing I need to do is to communicate with the present pastor about what I am seeing. He is on Facebook but very rarely shows up. Maybe he would want to learn about his youth and/or maybe he would give consent for me to respond to them.
     
  14. BobinKy

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    I am not a pastor, but a retired businessman. However, I have served as Sunday School teacher, short-term missionary, and assisted various youth pastors in various churches and teachers in private Christian schools. (K-12).

    My view comes from Proverbs 22:6.

    Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6; KJB)​

    Youth are bombarded by much as they struggle to fit in, go off to college, begin their lives at work and at home, and raise their own children.

    I have seen many brought back to the church through their children. And I have seen many of my own cohort group (my generation--I am in my 60s) so hardened against their religious upbringing. Some do and some do not return to their upbringing.

    I think prayer and trust in the work of the Holy Spirit is more fruitful than invasion upon their 20s lifestyle. If they are not in church, they obviously have turned their back for a reason. In their 30s--maybe they will be more receptive? But I think 40s and beyond is more likely.

    . . .

    I like the concept--who is their pastor?

    I would be interested in learning if there are any who have taken up the mission field of Facebook. If so, how do they go about witnessing?

    Another question coming to mind--do you ever reach the point of NOT being the pastor of someone in your flock who has moved on?

    And still another question I would like someone to answer--what are the Biblical values (and references) for pastoral referral?

    . . .

    I do not like the term "failure." Can we use another word?

    . . .

    The problem I see is the anonymity of most online communication. Look at our own Baptist Board. Not exactly the model--myself included.

    Looking up the Biblical references on the tongue are illuminating. Especially, those in the book of James.

    If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. (James 1:26; KJB)

    Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. . . . But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.(James 3:5-6, 8; KJB)​

    Perhaps 1 John 3:18 sheds some light (as scripture from John often does).

    My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18; KJB)​

    If you are not currently in their world (and very few of us in our 60s are--generational prejudice is rampant), prayer and trust in the Holy Spirit may comfort you somewhat.

    . . .

    But how about the current flock of youth now in our churches? How can we "bring them up" so they will return when they are old and not depart from God?

    Particularly after they stretch their wings in this world we must live in before we go to the next world.

    Some will go on to a better world to be with Jesus. Some will go on to a far worse world in the pit of hell.

    ...Bob
     
    #14 BobinKy, Dec 15, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2010
  15. Allelujah77

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    I've been told many times.... that even teach kids or teenagers or what not... they may listen... but that doesn't mean they are going to truly make a change in their life. Now sometimes they do.
    My point is that you can't force a kid or teenage to listen and then to act upon what they have heard because they have to make the change themselves...

    You planted... just allow the Holy Spirit to work through their lives. Pray for them. Prayer is powerful :D Some people will go astray... but don't let that get you down... keep striving forward and share with even more people the good news of Christ. :godisgood:
     
  16. Tom Butler

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    Do not pray for these young men and women.

    Pray against them. Ask God to beat up on them, and for the Holy Spirit to make them miserable.

    Pray for the HS to bring heavy conviction on them and drive them to their knees.

    And ask God for wisdom in witnessing and counseling these young men and women.
     
  17. InHisGrip

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    I see this problem, too. I think it shows a grave problem among evangelicalism. We are not producing the disciples we think we are. Maybe programs are not the answer.

    In the early church, a person made the decision to become a believer knowing that he may lose his life. Many had to go through a long rigorous process before they were even allowed to be baptized. Nowadays, we beg them to just come down the aisle and "get saved." And we are reaping the results.
     
  18. FriendofSpurgeon

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    I think it is incredible that you are still following up with these young people. At this point, I think you are correct. You may want to follow up with their current pastor. It would be good if he got involved. But you are being a true friend and a mentor to these young people and by helping them focus on the core issues, the outward items will take care of themselves. Lastly, and most of all, you are praying for (or against as Tom said) them and that is the best of all. God's best to you.
     
  19. menageriekeeper

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    I've thought about this on and off since you first posted and since it's popped back up, I guess I'll throw in my two cents.

    Those teens didn't just automatically friend you with no thought. They had to consider "do I want this man to be on my list and see all the things I post"? (though at least half of those teens have no privacy settings and don't realize the entire world can see their thoughts). If they said yes and friended you, they gave you a direct invitation to comment on their page.

    Now if you feel uncomfortable posting comments about their behavior publicly (on their wall), there is a mechinism by which you can post a private message. I find teens are EAGER for input into their lives. We as a society don't value our teens as we should and often they have no direction coming from anywhere. (my opinion as a mother of 3 teens, 1 teen Godson and future mil of one boy that has just passed out of the teenage years)

    Feel free to enter into a discussion. If they get mad and unfriend you, well, then you can approach their own minister(s) and clue them in.
     
  20. Joseph M. Smith

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    You are right that I should follow up with the present pastor, or perhaps with the youth minister, who joined the church and declared his call for the ministry during my pastorate. He is also on Facebook, whereas the senior pastor is not. I am going to take the counsel of several and pray about each one and then test the waters with private messages. I would never "out" anyone, although it is pretty obvious that they are revealing themselves quite openly. What I must find a way to do is to see the language and behavior as symptomatic of a deeper issue, and not just carp at inappropriate postings.

    I just found and friended a couple more of them, plus the father of one, who is himself a "mess." I could tell you stories, but won't!

    Thanks for the encouragement. Oh, by the way, few of these are teens now. They are college students, for the most part; I spent 23 years in campus ministry before the pastorate of which I have spoken, so would like to feel I still have a feel for what young adults/students do and think.
     

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