Dancing Jesus: Why The Church Has Failed The Youth — Part II

(Read Part I here)

Part II

Mature Leadership Within the Church Family

It’s scary to think of the corporations that we rely on in our daily lives as money hungry monsters and it’s even scarier when we can relate them to the institution of our church. 

One of the major flaws of institutions (take for example McDonalds) is that the weakest link is where the business meets the customer. CEO’s and managers, with years of education and experience, make major decisions on marketing strategy and where to build buildings, and they go into painstaking detail on the concept and execution, but when the consumer and business actually meet it’s with the most inexperienced and uneducated employee of the corporation. For McDonalds it’s the teenage high school drop out that interacts with the customers and performs the transactions.

As the body of Christ, where the individual meets Jesus and the Church, that point of contact needs to be the strongest, deepest, most mature devout Christians (plural emphasized) to meet and walk with that person.

“We’ve used the business model for the church, instead of the extended family model,” said Frank Brown.

Then why are so many new or young pastors beginning in youth ministry? Why give the most inexperienced leaders to the most inexperienced Christians? Where are the elders, the parents, the mature adults? Many churches give the youth ministry to young pastors as a sort of starting ground, a way to work up the ladder. Yet very rarely are wisdom and youth contained in the same person. Why give the gems of our young leaders to the most inexperienced?

This is also a problem of many youth ministries. They are isolated from the church family and many are lead by inexperienced and/or immature Christians. In Bible college I could walk through campus and immediately point out the individuals majoring in youth ministry based on personality and clothing style. It was an unfair stereotype. But unfortunately it was often true.

Success Not in Numbers

Entertainment is our attempt to appeal to culture. It’s a tool to increase numbers. The problem with numbers is that it’s short-term success. Success shouldn’t be measured in growth or numbers. Success shouldn’t even be measured. Our Western mindset entices us to make the youth a product. We’re not willing to develop theological thinkers for fear it won’t keep numbers up.

Parents carry a baby for the first few years of their life but the baby doesn’t produce anything. And yet we look for performance from our youth to rate the successes of our ministries instead of developing, nurturing, leading, and growing them within the family.

Real success is long-term. When the young man or woman that a youth pastor spent hours praying for and teaching and leading returns 10, 20, 30 years later with his or her family and their spouse affirms youth ministries impact in their life. That’s success. That beats out large numbers any Sunday.

Our consumer driven culture can perceive the church as a product. What can it give me? And too often we bow to the demand with entertainment. Youth ministry should be fun and creative, but novelty is being taken to the extreme when entertainment is the focus. Every youth leader can attest to searching the web for new games, or icebreakers, or ideas, or anything to keep kid’s attention. Then when real life hits and the “cool entertaining Jesus” they met in their youth group doesn’t take care of life’s problems then Jesus, God, and the Bible are no longer relevant.

The difficulty is convincing churches and ministries to shift the focus from a segmented one to a family oriented one that fosters numerous mature adult relationships.

Read Part I here. Read Part II here. Read Part 3 here.

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8 thoughts on “Dancing Jesus: Why The Church Has Failed The Youth — Part II

  1. “…but when the consumer and business actually meet it’s with the most inexperienced and uneducated employee of the corporation. For McDonalds it’s the teenage high school drop out that interacts with the customers and performs the transactions.”

    i get the point here but i don’t agree with the analogy. it seems cold how you are associating drop out teens with a lack of care and concern and/or “education” needed to form a relationship with christ and help others do the same. didn’t jesus choose his disciples based on their heart, not their social status, experience or income?

    i agree with you that there needs to be more involvement with the elders and the parents to make the body of the church complete, it’s a very important role to foster that kind of family within the church and it should not be taken for granted or taken lightly.

  2. I don’t associate drop out teens with a lack of care or concern. In the analogy I compare drop out teens to young, inexperienced Christians.

    Jesus’ disciples were not the cream of the crop, but they didn’t begin teaching until after three years of learning with Jesus. It still took them three years of learning from one of the most brilliant men to have lived before they began their ministry.

    You have to walk before you can run. You have to learn before you can teach. We can’t have Christians who can’t walk trying to show others how to run.

  3. We can’t ONLY have Christians who can’t walk try to show others how to run… we do definitely need to learn from those who have experiences that we are missing.

    Yet there have been many times in my faith when I have learned to leap from those who are crawling. I think there’s a balance, times when both ends can teach one how to go about the journey.

  4. Oh definitely, but I don’t want the new Christian teenager learning his or her New Testament from the just saved guy who has just started reading the Bible.

  5. i agree with everything you say – but i still don’t like the analogy you choose. it seems to give “less value” to youth not in school and new christians. i think that people who have a heart to serve in the church should be supported, after all it is christ working through us, (not our own talents) that saves lives. we could have the most brilliant bible scholar in the world teaching and still not be able to do what jesus can with a willing heart. anyone new to teaching will need guidance and training to get started and along the way of course. i agree that youth programs need to be taken seriously as the first step into the kingdom of god.

  6. They do have less value in terms of teaching ability and/or (but not limited to) mentoring skills. That doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t grow and learn and be able to teach and/or mentor, but the Church must be wise and discerning and put the strongest with the weakest instead of the weakest with the weakest. New Christians might have a lot to offer, but if it were my kid I’d want the most devoted, wise, and mature Christian teaching and mentoring them.

    But if we look at the analogy, I’m not ripping on the high school drop out who’s flipping burgers, but at that point in their lives they don’t have the ability to be the CEO of the company. They might eventually, but not then. The CEO of UPS started at the bottom and eventually worked his way up, so it can be done. But they are still “The weakest link, good bye.”

  7. “…it seems to give “less value” to youth not in school and new christians…”

    since i was a youth when beginning to volunteer in ministry, i was really new in my walk, and to be honest, terrified someone knowing nothing about God would be in need of some direction and i wouldn’t be able to provide it. i take no offense at the analogy as it makes perfect sense to me. sure i had a willing heart, but my growth and knowledge was still its infant stages.

  8. i completely agree with what is being said and i support the opinions here. i know that we need mature christians and parents leading the young and that less experienced christians need the time to learn and the support of the church to teach them before they can teach others.

    it’s not that i don’t understand the analogy. i have always been ultra-sensitive to the appearance of anyone being less valued for any reason. i know that is not your intention ross, but when i read that part i felt a little sting for some reason, i guess i felt sorry for the, “high-school drop out” being used as an example – i tend to want to fight for the underdog or weakest link in any situation – even when i take it out of context by my own thought process, like i guess i am doing here.

    i am just being too sensitive, that’s all.

    i think these blogs are needed and very good. i wouldn’t read them otherwise.

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