Last Thursday, Steve and I made the trek to the campus of my alma mater, SWBTS, in Ft. Worth to listen in on a Youth Ministry Symposium. Although the WiFi nazis wouldn't let me online, I was able to take lots of notes on my Mac. I'll try to post/digest them here.
So…what's the deal with youth ministry? What has it gotten us? Where is it going? And is there even a Biblical basis for it? Those are the questions each of the panel members addressed…sort of.
First up, was Alvin Reid, SEBTS, and author of 'Raising the Bar', who threw out some interesting statistics from his book.
There are more teens today than EVER in history. In the last 30 years, American Student Ministry has produced more youth ministers than ever before. According to research, many youth ministers expect teens to be immature, sow their wild oats, etc., during their turbulent teen years. We are not even preparing them for their first year of college, much less their life. He recommended th following books for consideration:
Millenials Rising– although I haven't read the book yet, the website is fairly interesting.
Body Piercing Saved My life: InsideThe Phenomenon of Christian Rock (…would make a nice stocking stuffer…)
Righteous, By Lauren Sandler. It was interesting to note that Sandler, a self-proclaimed agnostic, claims that "young people have been so liberated, they now want to be liberated from liberation." Students in the 12-18-year-old range still desire to believe that at least *some* absolute truth exists and that it can effectively govern their lives.
(Actually, in the spring, I'm going to pick up all four of these and run through them…)
Reid went on to say that in the realm of Christian/family education, yes, the Deutoronomy 6 mandate still applies to us today: " Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Parents are the primary spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and psychological developer of their children. Not the church. Not the youth ministry.
According to Reid, parents are the missing ingredient. Youth Ministry should challenge parents, as well as students. Challenge them to share their faith, to pray, to worship, to go deep. We should partner with parents to challenge students. "And we should change the paradigm of youth ministry from programs to passion. From institution to mission. From protecting children to building an army to assault the culture."