Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Theological Youth Ministry

Jerry Watts, a blogger at Reform This, had an insightful post about whether or not "theological youth ministry is just a fad."  I encourage you to read his post.

Here was my reply...

Some of us have been doing theology in youth ministry for years - long before many non-denominational evangelicals "discovered" it.  In some ways, this marks a natural progression of a new Christian.  Consider:

A young man named Chris, tired of the bar scene, connects with a co-worker who tells him about this sweet new church in town.  Chris is wary about "church"; fraught with boring liturgy, early morning worship services, dozens of blue-haired old women who think they own the place, and stuffy preaching from an old white pastor.  His friend assures him this new church is nothing like it.  They have LCD screens, a rock band, a surfer dude that is called 'pastor', a lot of laid back young people, and a Sunday night worship service that doesn't cramp his style.  Chris is intrigued, so he goes to check it out.  Everything about the church is 'seeker-sensitive' and benign.  He loves it.  After a few years of high-level involvement, Chris discovers that this church's approach to ministry feels 'comfortable', but lacks depth and substance.  Even his small group is a little thin; only reinforcing the surface-level content of the previous 45-minute sermon.  He has profound questions that aren't being answered...he wants worship that is connected to something beyond this group of 21st century hipsters...he becomes concerned that his financial contributions are being used to buy the latest technology for the expanding building, instead of being used for mission.  He wants more than what is being offered, but he doesn't know where to find it.

Like Chris, many new evangelicals are discovering theology for the first time.  For children that grow up in the church and are engaged in Sunday School, VBS, confirmation, etc. - they start to 'discover theology' in adolescence.  Therefore, there is just as much need for theological youth ministry as there is for emerging theology in non-denominational churches.  I hope that our adult leaders have the integrity to make this more than just another fad.

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