Loosing Battle

Discussion in 'Youth Forum' started by Shortandy, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. Shortandy

    Shortandy
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    Has anyone noticed that the way our Baptist churches are doing youth ministry is not working? What I mean by "not working" is that we are loosing our young people at an alarming rate; maybe not alarming because no one seems to be alarmed, but you get the idea.

    Depending on the research group we are loosing 70 to 85% of our students by the end of their freshman year of college. Don't believe me? Just look around your church on Sunday morning and tell me where the 19 to 25 years olds are. If a hospital was loosing such a large percentage of patients I imagine that hospital would re-evaluate its methods or close.

    My question for people on this forum is: What are we doing wrong?
     
  2. annsni

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    First off, welcome to BB!!

    Well, my hubby and I have worked with youth for many years and DH is currently working with the college kids. What we've found is that much of the teaching to the kids is dumbed down. They are not challenged in their faith and therefore just don't understand what they believe. They are told "believe this" and they do - until it's challenged in school or especially college and they have nothing to stand on because they know the what of their belief but not the why. Before my girls went to high school, I had homeschooled them through elementary and middle school and took their last year at home (8th grade) to do an intensive apologetics course for their history. They learned the "why" and were able to stand really firmly in high school. My oldest is off to college next year and I pray that she will continue with her strong stance for the Lord.
     
  3. StefanM

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    I think we focus too much on numbers and being "relevant" that we fail to disciple the youth in our churches.
     
  4. SBCPreacher

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    Many churches I have been a part of do youth ministry as the ministry of fun and games instead of focusing on developing spiritually mature young people. When they graduate out - when the fun and games end - they have no spiritual roots and drop out.

    There needs to be a balance. Just fun and games will not develop spiritual maturity. Just bible studies with no fun and fellowship and they won't come.

    One more thing. I think another part of the problem is the example set by some parents. If church (worshiping God, studying His Word, Christian fellowship) isn't important to mom or dad, chances are it won't be important to them either.
     
  5. Shortandy

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    Discipleship Question

    Thanks for these post guys. As I read them I see discipleship as being their main focus. This leads me ask yet another question on the topic.

    Whose job is it to disciple our young people? I ask only to get the ball rolling on this thread. I have much I wish to bring to the table for your consideration. So again I ask, based upon the scriptures whose job is it to disciple our children?
     
  6. annsni

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    It is a parent's job to disciple their children. Period. However, many of the youth that attend our youth group are from unchurched homes so our youth leaders will disciple them in their walk with Christ. We also will work with the parents and try to bring them to know the Lord.

    Our youth leaders let the kids know that family is a greater priority and youth group is never to interfere with family. I have 2 daughters in youth group right now and I appreciate the youth leaders' influence in my daughters' lives. They are close friends of ours and I trust them completely - so much so that I'd even ask them to raise my kids if anything ever happened to us. Seriously.
     
  7. Sopranette

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    It is not a losing battle. I read the Book, and the last pages say we win.

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

    love,

    Sopranette
     
  8. StefanM

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    There is a variant (and, IMO, quite feasible) interpretation of that verse. "Should" as in "needs to" is not present in the Hebrew text. Literally, it reads, "in his way" instead of "in the way he should go." The English translation is a holdover from an older usage of the English term "should."

    In essence, this interpretation would say that if you raise your children according to their own desires (i.e. permissive parenting), then when they grow up, they'll be set in that destructive pattern. I think this holds up empirically much more often than the idea that Christian parents can count on their kids eventually turning around.

    Even disregarding this, youth ministries are not responsible to "train up a child." That is the job of the parents, and they are failing abysmally. You cannot train up a child through youth camps and D-Nows.
     
  9. Shortandy

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    I want you to notice the context of that passage. Its written for parents not a church. The issue, as I see it, is we have professionalized youth ministry; communicating to parents that "we are trained professionals dont try this at home."

    My point and passion is to equip the parents to do what God has called them to do and that is to disciple their own children. A youth pastor can't train my child as well as I can because he or she doesn't have near as much influence on them as I do. He might, at best get a few hours in a week but I have way more time with my daughter than that.

    Now the issue of unchurched parents has been mentioned and it is valid. But do we start ministries for people who don't tithe so we can tithe for them? Yes we should work with the kids of unchurched parents but we should make it our ultimate goal to reach those parents and teach them how to disciple their own kids. Read the average vision or mission statement of the average youth ministry and you will see many don't embody this.
     
  10. annsni

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    Here's our church's youth mission statement:

    Northport Baptist Church Youth Ministry
    Ephesians 4:12-16

    Our Youth Mission Statement: To present the message of Christ to teens and nurture the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, thereby equipping teens to do the work of the ministry of Jesus Christ for global impact.

    Our Vision: To provide a "safe" environment for the development of Christ-centered relationships with and between teens.

    Our Objectives: To place teens in the path of God weekly by:



    * Challenging them with the Word of God and how it relates to their everyday life.
    * Leading them in worship, with God as the "audience of One".
    * Encouraging them in a daily devotional walk with God: reading His Word and prayer.
    * Giving them the experiences that take them out of their egocentric thinking and push them into reaching out to others with the love of God through small groups and group initiatives.
    * Helping them appreciate, respect and embrace their families.
    * Connecting them with Christ-minded friends that will push them on the peer level to grow in Christ.
    * Paralleling the ministry work of the church to incorporate teens in the life of the church as much as possible.
    * Having fun.

    Beyond the weekly encounters, we also want to:

    * Help parents to better understand youth culture, equipping them with Godly skills to parent their teen(s).
    * Show teens how to reach out to friends with the love of God through life-style evangelism.
    * Develop life skills in teens through services and missions projects stretching their God-given talents.
    * Equip and empower the teens to do the work of ministry in youth group. Eph. 4:12
     
  11. Sopranette

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    I gotcha. Thanks, though I never read it in this context. I guess a loving parent would want their child to live a Christian life. It doesn't work if you just send your child to youth camp or whatever and let the camp do that for you.

    love,

    Sopranette
     
  12. Shortandy

    Shortandy
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    This is all very good and well written but do you notice the emphasis? Nothing about parents in the mission or vision statements. It is the church taking the primary role of discipleship and then asking the parents to partner with the ministry. What the church needs to do is invest, equip and come along side the parents as they lead the children. There has been a shift in this way of thinking for the past 30 years or so as more and more professional youth pastors have emerged. How many verses say church teach the children? But how many tell parents to teach their children?

    Please don't take offense. This is very counter-cultural and most people hear this and get upset. But really think about it. Do we need a better and more biblical churhc model? I would say so for a few reasons. #1 the current approach is not biblical. Now understand I didnt say heretical , but nowhere in the Bible do you the command for the primary discipleship of children being the church. #2 the current approach goes against what we do see in scripture. Modern youth ministries puts power in the ministry not the parents. And #3 it doesn't work. Remember all the research shows we are not retaining a percentange of our studenst but we are loosing over 70%.

    I don't have all the answers and would never pretend to but from that i know we need to be doing something different.
     
  13. annsni

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    Well, is any church's mission statement to say that others are to do the discipleship? What a mission statement is saying is what THEIR goal is. We cannot say as a mission statement "To make parents disciple their children" because, honestly, atleast 1/2 of the youth are not churched nor come from families who are believers. We DO have a goal to bring their parents to the Lord also, but that is not done in the regular youth meetings. But with the parent seminars, family nights and other things that the youth offer, we reach out to the parents. But a youth ministry is working with the youth ... and the family as an extention but mainly the youth. I do not see anything wrong with that unless the church that has the youth program has nothing for the parents nor reaches out to them to train them, guide them and mature them as believers and parents.
     
  14. Shortandy

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    Remember I am not saying its wrong. I am however asking if the current approach is best. How do we keep from loosing so many after their freshman year of college? Discipleship, discipleship, discipleship is what I hear but let me ask you a question. How do we increae the odds of growing our youth towards maturity? By having youth workers disciple or by parents? You see you can have a mission statement that says, "make parents disciple their kids" because throughout scripture we see the centrality of the home, not the church for this process. What is the job of ministers in our churches according to Ephesians? To equip the saints or do it for them? Again you make mention of the kids of unchurched parents and this is valid. But you still cant deny that our current approach is not working (70 to 80% failure rate). So picture this; a youth ministry led by parents not paid professionals. Parents that hold each other accountable for the discipleship of their own homes; parents who make the goal of the ministry reach other parents.

    Again I wish to tell you that I am not trying to make you angry in anyway. The way we are currently doing youth ministry needs to be adjusted. Thats my point.

    Because He Lives

    Andy
     
  15. SBCPreacher

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    In a perfect world this might work. In a fallen world it won't. The majority of our youth come from homes that don't give a flip about God or His church. They don't want anything to do with it at all. Are we to leave it to lost parents to disciple their kids? If so, there won't be any discipleship at all.

    The church has to step up and do its part to disciple youth when the parents won't, and most of them won't.
     
  16. Shortandy

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    So do you pull the slack for the people that don't tithe in your church too? Or do teach two Sunday School classes because no one will step up? I seriously doubt it. I bet you do your best to train and teach people to step it up. Thats the point here.

    I am not saying we don't minister to the kids whose parents "don't give a flip" my friend. I am saying we need to change the way we do it altogether. The current focus of the average youth ministry in a SBC church is on the kids more than the parents but the Bible speaks more about parents discipling their kids than the church fulfilling that role. So what I am proposing is a shift in thinking and practice. How often does the leadership in a given youth ministry pray for those parents that don't give a flip? How often do they plan to witness and minister to those same parents? You know the answer to that Im sure. And again the current approach doesn't work; we are loosing well over half of them after their freshman year of college. Why does this not alarm anyone? If what we are doing doesn't work then it must change. I am not even saying my way is best but there must be a change.
     
  17. annsni

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    I have to say that the majority of our churched parents DO work with the youth. While we do have a paid youth pastor (need one with a youth group of 150), the remainder of the youth staff is volunteer and as often as possible, we get the parents involved and they WANT to. Tonight they're at one of the student's homes for an end of year party and it's not just for the kids but for parents too. Parents come to speak, to teach and to disciple. We have small groups for the students with mostly parents leading them. So our youth group is not apart from parents but is open for parents to work along too.

    I agree that we need to have parents involved but we can't make anyone do anything. We CAN say that we'll "make" parents disciple their kids but in reality, we can't make them do anything. But we can guide them and teach them and work alongside them to do this if they desire. For those who are churched, it works. For those who are not, our prayer is that they might even come to know the Lord through their child. But if they're unchurched, it is certainly our role to make disciples as it is for any church body to do with their members.
     
  18. David Lamb

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    Are you talking about young Christians, or young people who have not (yet) been converted, but have been coming to church services for years with their Christian parents, but who have stopped attending on reaching adulthood?
     
  19. Shortandy

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    I can tell that you really love students and I am thankful for that. Let me make a few more statements and maybe we can move on to other things.

    First off you are right; we can't make anyone do anything but we can apply more accountability and church discipline. For example; lets say I am a parent in your church with a teen. I drop my daughter off every Wednesday for youth and I go home or go to prayer meeting, etc, etc. But the philosophy of your student ministry is that parents not the church are charged biblicaly for the discipleship of their kids. So you approach me as a member and teach me this philosophy yet I reject it. I say, "we pay a youth pastor for that." What do you do? You can't make me. Here is my thought.....you continue to encourage and push me as a member; a believer in Jesus Christ; to fulfill my biblical role with my daughter. But if I am still hard-hearted you take other steps. I think we have lost sight of concept of spiritual adoption in our churches. If I am unwilling to disciple my daughter then let another father in the church step in. Why do I say another father or family. Because remember the current model is not working. Our paid professionals are not working; we are loosing too many after their freshman year of college. If the parents of some of your teens wont step up and act right then hand them over to families that will. These unchurched kids need to see a biblical family in action. If we only trust them to the youth pastor then when they are parents that will practice the same thing that their parents did; pass off the kids to the professional and let him disciple them and the fall-away rate will remain the same.

    So I agree if parents cant because they are not saved or they wont because they are ignorgant believers then the church should step in. My disagreement with you is it should not be a single minister or staff but parents. I am a younger man in my late 20's with only one child on earth so far but I am a spiritual daddy to 2 kids in my church becaus their dads wont teach them how to be godly.
     
  20. Shortandy

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    The numbers are more than likely mixed just like they are in the pews every sunday for the adults. Some of these kids say they are Christians but are not. However, they have made their professions of faith at an emotionally driven youth camp or something to that effect and we count them in our baptist numbers. They are "members" or our church. But the numbers should still be just as alarming to us. These kids were faithful in coming and now they are not. Remember most on this thread people are asserting that their youth have unchurched parents; so they are not being forced to come but they are choosing to or want to come. But after their freshman year of college they fall-away. The only logical answer; our current approach to discipling students does not work!
     

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