Studies continue to show there is a short window of opportunity for information to be acted on until it becomes irrelevant. This reality makes me wonder if student ministries that talk about dropping nets and following Christ, stepping out in faith, dying to self, living for Christ, being salt and light, and going into all the world to make disciples but do not give students opportunities to do these things, or that only allow students a chance to lead recreation at VBS once a year, might actually be guilty of perpetuating the myth of the irrelevance of God’s Word to “real” life.
Helping local churches develop their youth ministry is a top priority for CEP. We are encouraging youth leaders to network their resources and talents within their local presbyteries as well as making useful resources and materials available to local church youth workers.
There are certain lessons I have learned over the last decade and a half in youth ministry. I learned early on that taking students to play paintball really means open season on the youth pastor, and I learned that something always gets broken during a lock-in. I found out that playing youth group games in the sanctuary never ends well and that students seldom bring Bibles to church. I also realized that the most effective way to help students connect the dots between faith and life is having a youth group that worships together, prays for each other, and participates in missions experiences…
Ask any man how he feels when he is asked to hold his wife’s purse even for a moment. Nearly every instinct in our son’s heart is to resist appearing to be feminine. So, if our boys see Christianity as feminine, what should we expect their attitude towards it to be?
Given the overwhelmingly negative statistics concerning young adults and church involvement, I am willing to go out on a limb here and suggest that engaging teenagers in the life of your congregation is one of the more important things you can do in your student ministry. Stepping a little further out on the limb, let me also suggest that though the application of the Great Commission must be contextualized, the call to make disciples is equally as valid for the teenagers in your congregation as it is for the adults who inhabit your pews.
From the origin of your calling to work with the next generation to the importance of assisting parents in raising their children, a covenantal understanding of scripture has multiple implications for youth ministry. Let me try to whet your appetite by highlighting just two of the many aspects of this special relationship between God and man that have direct bearing on how we do youth ministry.
The first question of youth ministry is one of theological foundation. I am convinced that the particular model of ministry that a church uses is secondary to the theological foundation on which the model is built.
Danny Mitchell will become the new Coordinator of Family and Youth Ministries for Christian Education and Publications in June 2007.He will succeed Dean Conkel, who returned to local church ministry in June 2006. Danny graduated from Covenant College in 1992 with a BS in Biblical Studies and will graduate from Covenant Theological Seminary in May with a Master of Divinity.
Suffice it to say that it is in the church that we ought to learn what it means to be messengers of grace wherever we are. It is in this context that we are to make disciples. We have the great privilege of self consciously bringing the influence of God’s kingdom to a society dimly aware of his nature and purposes.
There has been a steep decline in church attendance beginning with the baby boomers (those born between1946-1964) and continuing to the present generation. The most recent statistics indicate that we are not far from the place where the majority in the United States will identify themselves as something other than Protestant.