Problems With The "Youth Ministry"

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Mark Osgatharp, Aug 4, 2003.

  1. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    I told Dr. Bob that I would give some more reasons (in addition to turning the church into an entertainment center) why I have grave problems with the "youth ministry" as it is practiced today - so here it is.

    These are general observations and I am fully aware that not every one necessarily applies in every situation - so please don't burden me with "that isn't how our youth ministry is."

    1. Christ instituted the ministry in His churches. This ministry was not specialized toward any group. Any man ordained an elder in the church was ordained elder of all.

    And yet today, people act as if the "youth ministry" is some essential element of Christianity, though not a word of it was breathed in the Scriptures. To assert it's necessity is nothing less than to charge God with folly for failing to reveal it's necessity in the Scriptures.

    Many young men who are called into the ministry are now pursuing a career in "youth ministry." This is robbing churches of men much needed in the real work of the ministry.

    2. Youth ministry divides churches along an artificial line - that of age. The emphasis on youthfullness, rather than moving children away from their natural animosity for the aged nurtures in them an inordinate affection for youthfulness.

    And yet the Scriptures says, "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him." Our desire should be to move our young people toward maturity, not confirm them in the foolishness of youth.

    I would note here than many "youth ministers" are men in their twenties or thirties who still act like teenagers. As a matter of fact, youth ministers are actually encouraged to act youthful so as to appeal to the youth. This is hardly the example that needs to be set for young people.

    The Scripture commands men of God to "flee youthful lusts" and exhorts the young men of the church to be "sober" and "grave" - not silly and giddy.

    3. The youth ministry substitutes a youth minister for the God ordained leaders of the youth - their parents.

    It is not uncommon for youth ministers to lead young people contrary to the wishes of their parents. The promotion of the "Christian Rock and Roll" culture by youth ministers is a good example of this.

    Furthermore, the youth minister is usually responsible for planning "activities" for the youth. This puts the church in the precarious position of allowing a 21 year old wet behind the ears neophyte to plan peoples lives for them. Parents who can't or won't revolve their lives around the youth programs are looked on as somehow unloving or uncaring for youth, and uncooperative with the church.

    I know an older couple who actually moved from one town to another to, by their own admission, help keep their daughter's children in the church activities because she didn't have enough time to do it herself. And this is supposed to be helping families?

    4. The youth ministry saddles the churches with expences that are totally unecessary and subversive of the work of the church.

    Paul said in I Timothy that the church was not even to support widows except in the most extreme cases. How then can a church justify spending large amounts of money on trips to Disney Land and the ski slopes and asking the people to foot the bill? This is so foreign to anything found in the Scripturs that it stagger the imagination that churches have dived headlong into it.

    5. It is my opinion that one major drive behind the youth ministry is men who don't want to take responsibility for the lives of their own children. Rather than teaching their own children and making sure they are not "on the street" they would prefer to pay some man to do it.

    If fathers would take responsibility for the spritual training of their own children then the whole youth ministry craze would become a moot point.

    6. Above all, the youth ministry replaces Jesus Christ as the focal point of the church. It trains youth to come to church for food and fun rather than for Jesus. It introduces youthful flippancy and carnal activities into what should be the most holy and reverent gathering of all.

    Excuse me, but I just don't believe the Lord Jesus Christ intended for his worship to be a baptized version of Nicolodean.

    Now fire away!

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  2. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    P.S.

    I might add on top of everything else, the "youth ministry" just doesn't work. I know enough about what is going on in this world to know that most of the kids who are into the youth ministry craze have no more morals or godliness than the average young person.

    The last time our church took a group of young people to summer camp, I asked my son (who was about 15 at the time) if he heard just as much vulgarity that week as he did at school. He looked kind of embarrased and then said, "yes."

    The only sense in which the youth ministry "works" is in draining off people from churches who don't do it or don't do it with enough pizza and pizzaz and concentrating them all in the mega-churches.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  3. ScottEmerson

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    On the contrary, we see that there was specialized ministry in Acts. Deacons were even designed to have a specific purpose, that of taking care of the elderly widows. We see from God's granting of spiritual gifts that there are a myriad of opportunities for ministry within the church. And youth ministry is real work - this I guarantee.

    By that same "argument from silence" fallacy, we can also argue against air conditioning in churches, pews, sound systems, and even speaking in English, as none of these are specifically mentioned in the Bible.

    The rod of correction isn't referring to punishment, but the rod of a shepherd who lovingly protects and guides the sheep with his rod. A youth minister does the same thing. The goal of youth ministry is to help students grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

    I'm 24. I don't have to act youthful to gain the respect and trust of my students. I have to be myself and show them the power of God in my life. My students trust me implicitly - that's all the "appeal" that I desire.

    I think you are focusing too much on "youthful" and not enough on lusts. I think that too often we picture Jesus Christ as always being somber and stern, when in reality he was probably a lot like us. He enjoyed fun. He enjoyed laughing. He was serious when He needed to be, but He also knew how to enjoy life. People forget or want to avoid that.

    40% of my students come from families who do not attend church. 20% of my students come from families who are members, but haven't darted the door in over a year. Who ministers to those students in the absense of godly parents?

    I have never seen this, and I've been a member of four different churches now. Where have you seen this?

    I'm 24, but certainly not wet behind the ears. I have several parents who have students who are involved in several things, and not once will I tell them that they are doing their children wrong - not to them or anyone else. Part of the key to youth ministry is to trust parents - in turn, the parents and the students will trust you in return. For those who can't make activities or worship services, I send letters, e-mails, or IM them. They really do appreciate that.

    If fellowship is an important part of the church, then the church will respond accordingly. However, to make fellowship the most important budgetary line, I think is wrong. By this line of reasoning, how can you justify air conditioning or sound equipment in your church? Is that also unnecessary? People give to our church with the full disclosure of what the pastors make and where the money goes. I've never heard of someone from any of my churches who complain that too much money is spent on the youth.

    While it is your opinion, it is not based upon sound fact.

    I've got several fathers who are wonderful Christian leaders in their families. Many of them help me in dealing with other children who do not have that opportunity. The problem is that so many of these children do not have parents who are saved. These dads just don't know any better, as they are lost. Thankfully, a ministry is there to ensure that their children will continue to grow in Christ. That's a point that is hard to argue.

    It absolutely does not! This could not be farther from the truth. While many activities have pizza and have fun, youth ministry is designed to point completely and solely upon Jesus Christ. There are no carnal activities! I am really concerned about where you are developing this information. So many of your points are so far from Truth that it's quite sad.

    I don't either. I believe that Jesus Christ intended for us to make diciples of all people - this includes students. The fact is that there are things in ministry that "work" in reaching lost students and things that do not. A youth minister is a minister with a specific audience. It it his responsibility to point the way to Christ in the way that he talks, behaves, and lives. If he is congruent in what he preaches and what he practices, God can do amazing things in his ministry.
     
  4. ScottEmerson

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    Let's rephrase this to make it accurate:

    I might add on top of everything else, our "youth ministry" just doesn't work. I know enough about what is going on in this world to know that most of the kids who are into my church's youth ministry craze have no more morals or godliness than the average young person.

    The reason it is important to localize this is that this isn't the case in so many of our churches. In Ocala, people know very clearly that students from our church are different. While we do have some that are no different, we have a majority of students who are investing their lives in winning their friends to Christ. They are the ones who are vocal about their faith, and they back it up in the way that they live.

    Then find a different church. Perhaps this is an indication of something else.

    People come to mega-churches for many reasons, and I do sense a little bit of bittnerness here. People are going to go to a church in which their spiritual needs are going to be met. Increasingly, this is found in churches where the Bible is preached, where fellowship is plentiful, and people are being sent out as missionaries. I am a minister at a "mega-church," and the majority of our students are not drained from other churches, but are here because of the relationships that they made with our students. We've had 9 students saved this summer. Pizza, fun, nor anything else did it - Jesus Christ did. Three of those people, I personally led to Christ. These three people would not have darted the door of a church if it were not for our students who reached out to them, inviting them to our student worship or other activities. You want a csae for student ministry? Chelsea, Sarah, and Stephen are now written in the Lamb's book of life, because our church was committed into investing their time and resources into students.
     
  5. donnA

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    I'm not sure why ministering to the problems and needs of young people is not considered real minstry. Is it their age or what? Somehow someone thinks they don't need to hear the gospel, don't need someone to point them to Christ, they don't need to leaarn to minster, to worship.
    Uhmmm, unusual to want to leave someone out of ministry.
     
  6. Mark Osgatharp

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    ScottEmerson,

    Do you know what the word "carnal" means?

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  7. Mark Osgatharp

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    Katie,

    Your statement is typical of the sort of mentality that the "youth ministry" craze fosters. You equate not practicing "youth ministry" as not ministering to youth.

    If I preach the word of God to young people, love them, and set a godly example before them, I have ministered to them. That, by God's grace, I try to do.

    There is nothing in the word of God that tells me or the church I pastor to build a gym, hire a baby sitt..oops, I mean "youth minister", take our children to Disney Land, speak "teenagese," invite the Power Team into our worship services, take (or even permit our young people to go) to Christian Rock Concerts or any of the other things practiced as "youth ministry" today.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  8. rlvaughn

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    Please note that the first point was not based on silence, but is based on the principle of following the ministry as instituted by Christ. That you do not agree does not make it an argument from silence.
    I was 24 and wet behind the ears once. At the time I didn't know it.
    As you suggested to Mark on another point, let's rephrase this to make it accurate: Some people are going to go to a church in which their spiritual needs are going to be met. Others go for various reasons.
    Mark, I have observed some of the same things in youth ministry in "our" churches in this area. Usually not all in one church, but some in all of them. My observation (and it is only that) is that usually the churches with the best "program," not the churches with the best teaching ministries, are the ones that attract the largest groups of youths.

    The fact that some youth are reached and ministered to is not sufficient to establish this type of program as a scriptural pattern to follow. If so, then we should also follow the Methodist pattern, for surely they must be reaching and ministering to some also! Just because someone might be saved during a "Jack Hyles style" bus ministry, doesn't mean that the ministry itself is a good pattern to follow. Only the Scriptures establish the true precedent for us to follow.
     
  9. Terry_Herrington

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    Scott,

    I think you will find that most of the ones who are against "youth ministry" do not have a clue as to what this ministry actually includes.

    My experience has show me that the ones who are against what you do are the hyper-fundamentalists. These people are often members of small ineffective churches and are bitter that other more successful churches are actually getting the job of done of reaching people for Christ.

    Many of these churches are divisive and continually focus on what is wrong or what others are doing. They like to feel as though they are the only "real" Christians and they reject anyone who disagrees with them. Like the Pharisees there real motive is often pride. They are convinced that anyone who views things differently than they do must be displeasing to God. After all, they are the only ones who have figured out exactly how God wants us to live our everyday lives.

    You just continue to do what you are doing and do not let these people dissuade you from reaching the youth in you community. If anything, the church needs more youth ministers and less churches like I have described.

    BTW, I'm not a youth minister and I am 51 years old. Therefore, I do not think that I am wet behind the ears.
     
  10. rlvaughn

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    Terry, it is interesting that you attack the people instead of offering a scriptural argument for your position.
     
  11. aefting

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    My experience, sadly, is that often we challenge our kids in Spiritual matters beyond where their parents are. I've seen kids make decisions to correct their ungodly viewing or listening habits only to be opposed, either directly or indirectly, by their parents. It is so sad.

    We actively oppose the "Christian Rock and Roll" culture in our church and in our teen group. Our teens love to sing and we emphasize the singing of hymns and other conservative/traditional Christian music in our teen SS and Wed. night meetings.

    Andy
     
  12. Mark Osgatharp

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    Brother Vaughn,

    I might add that just because someone made some sort of religious profession in a Jack Hyles type "bus ministry" doesn't necessarily mean they were born again either. Judgement day may tell a different tale.

    Not only do the ends not justify the means, the ends do not accomplish the means. The only means God uses to bring other people to Christ is obedience among his people. Insofar a this occurs in the midst of all the abberations, we might say that God saves some in spite of the abberations. But it is never because of the abberations.

    That is why I think it is so necessary to strip away all the hype and flesh that has been added to "worship" and return to the simplicity of Christ. Only then will Jesus stop being robbed of His due honor that is now being given to the programs.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  13. ScottEmerson

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    Yes - Carnal means relating to the physical or sexual appetites. Romans 8:6-7 says that the carnal mind is at emnity with God.

    As I said, there are no carnal activities.

    I find it ironic that out of all of the counter-arguments I made, this is the only one in whcih you "answered," (if we are to call this an answer). May I assume that you concede the other arguments?
     
  14. ScottEmerson

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    And I gave a specific example of the apostles making a specific ministry. One can argue that Christ did as well - he related differently to the masses than he did those who followed him. He related differently to those who followed him and the Twelve. He related differently to James, John, and Peter, than the other nine. Jesus did not treat all people the same!

    This is still an argument of silence - I can use the same 'Jesus didn't institute' argument for pews, microphones, and air conditioning, because he didn't talk about establishing any of those.

    Well, I'm glad you were able to mature.

    Okay - that is more accurate.

    And the fact is that: 1) there is no prohibition in ministering especially to an age group, 2) we have several examples of different groups having special ministry, and 3) The Scriptures say that people have been given different gifts to serve in different ways.

    Again, if we are to take your "true precedent," then we would not be doing many of the things that we do in church, such as speaking English, meeting in a brick building, or even driving cars to get there. There is no principle that goes against student ministry, just as there is no principle that goes against driving cars.
     
  15. ScottEmerson

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    Considering that neither you or Mark gave strong scriptural arguments against the practice, I'd say you guys are tied.
     
  16. ScottEmerson

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    Exactly - if GOd has called me to a specific ministry, then I MUST be obedient to that calling. Only then will God's hand be upon me in ministry.

    There is a song called "Heart of Worship" by Matt Redman that you need to hear, Mark.

    That is the basis behind our worship, Mark. I truly am sorry that you believe youth ministry to be so anti-God that it exists to serve itself than God.
     
  17. dianetavegia

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    Mark, I would like to respond to one point you made. You said:
    I'm a grandmother. My two granddaugters, ages 2 months and almost 3 years old, are being raised by our daughter and her catholic by birth husband. These children will only see the inside of a church when somebody has a party. These grandparents who moved so they could insure their grandchildren are in church are concerned for the salvation of these kids! I can' tell you how I pray for my little granddaughters as well as our daughter and son in law! I can tell her on the phone that Jesus loves her and I can send her books and Christian videos but honestly, the only time my little granddaugther hears the name of Jesus is in vain. Oh if only we were closer so I could see that they were in church.

    I think these grandparents are stepping in where the parents have failed. Why isn't their adult daughter concerned? I wish I could tell you but I'm just as baffled about how our daughter lives.... while her brothers are both in church everytime the door is open!

    Diane
     
  18. ScottEmerson

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    Thank you for sharing this, Diane. It is so important for people to realize the number of students who are in student ministry who do not have Christian parents. In some cases, they return from church and their parents mock church and God to their face. It is certainly not easy for these students to attend. They most certainly would not put up with all the hardship at home merely for pizza. They do it because they have found the risen Christ!

    Again 40% of the active students at our church have parents who are not Christians. Another 20% have parents who are members of our church, but are inactive.
     
  19. Helen

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    Perhaps there are a few other things that can be mentioned here.

    1. The parents of today are products of a 'me' generation which was, to put it mildly, spoiled rotten, often latch-key, and many of whom are completely lacking in matters of faith or knowledge of the Bible. This means that if their kids are interested in Christianity at all, they are either going to get it at a youth group or not get it.

    2. Jesus preached to thousands. Most did not follow Him, but only wanted to see the miracles or listen out of curiosity. We should not expect better results from ministers to any group! Granted Peter was given the incredible experience of seeing thousands baptized into the faith on Pentecost, but I doubt, first of all, that all of them remained with the faith and, second of all, that anything like that has ever happened again, Billy Graham notwithstanding.

    3. Teen brains are not mature. They are struggling for it. Many of them simply are not yet capable of grasping the theological points that adults discuss (or at least should be discussing, if their ministers are feeding them more than milk!).

    4. The positive peer influence of many youth groups does buy time for teens who could be using those evenings to get into trouble. Time is desperately needed for them when parents have opted out of these last years of parenting -- time to allow their physical maturation to be complete, which includes their thymus gland, parts of their nervous system, the re-wiring of their brains which happens then, and the hormonal surges which are so upsetting to their equilibrium.

    If a youth group only buys time for these kids who are at risk while simultaneously exposing them to the gospel of Christ, that is a good reason to be in existence.

    Now, here is a bit of negative, in agreement with Mark (I worked with youth groups for years, by the way, and also have raised six children of my own).

    1. We expect commitments to Christ to be real before adulthood. Not so. A few go on into adulthood, but teens, like younger children, do things in response to peer pressure, emotions, avoidance of punishment (like hell), and such. It is not until the brain has finished maturing, in the very late teens and/or early twenties that right for the sake of right and wrong for the sake of wrong has any influential meaning. This needs to be understood by youth leaders. My two daughters are extremely typical of some of what I have seen -- the older one seemed to be 100% sure of her faith as a teen and I never had any doubts about her commitment to Christ. Until, at 18, she moved in with an older man, lied to me about it for two years (she was living with a girlfriend closer to college since home was so far), became belligerant, started dressing in ways that showed a little too much of her, and abandon church altogether. She is 24 now and although they are married, faith is not a part of their lives. My younger daughter, on the other hand, was a first-grade dropout (refused to do any school work at all then!), a rebel for the ten years following, and by fourteen had pierced her own ear three extra times, was sneaking out at nights, had tried drinking, drugs, and cigarettes -- and is, today, at 19, firmly committed to Christ and in Bible college! Both girls were active members of youth groups! Go figure...

    2. Mark is absolutely right about the watering down of the gospel to these kids. That should never be done. Skating and pizza parties are great, ski trips are fine, car washes and rummage sales are a lot of fun -- but in the meantime, give them the straight truth about what the Bible says. That part is often missing. A number of youth groups will pick a couple of verses, have a round-robin discussion about them (which usually has to do with personal problems of the kids...) and then they all pray and have refreshments. If a youth minister is serious about these kids, they need to be taken through the entire Bible. If they can read entire novels and discuss them in their English classes, they can get through the entire Bible in high school, and at least know what it says!

    =========

    In Exodus, God gave the command that those 20 and over who had joined in the rebellion would die in the wilderness. I am sure that there were many teens who joined with their parents, and yet God did not hold them personally accountable, did He? They were allowed into the Promised Land. Why the age of 20? In part because teens are NOT yet adults, but neither are they children. They truly are a special and often very confused group of people who need special ministry -- especially when their parents are not involved in church.
     
  20. Artimaeus

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    Whether he is an ordained "pastor" or merely an appointed "Youth Leader" (not qualified to be a pastor), it is almost always someone with the mentality of "Let's use a carnal magnet to draw people to a place where we will tell them that carnality is a thing to be avoided".

    I Pet 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, ...2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof,...willingly; ... of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. ...
    5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.

    Since your commentary seems to be about "how it is practiced today" I will agree but there are many parents who have abandoned that role and a church trying to fill that empty void is not necessarily a bad thing.

    The sad thing is, that it is sometimes NOT contrary to the wishes of their parents.

    plan, counsel, lead, direct, guide, decide, etc. The younger should submit to the elder (older, wiser).

    I have yet to see a large necessary expense.

    I would disagree a little here, Mark. It is a small percentage of the youth group who have Christian fathers who don't take an active role in the children's lives. Most assume that what is going on in the youth group is a good thing because it is being run by their church.

    [​IMG] love the phrase. [​IMG]
     

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