Tag Archive | Youth Groups

Youth Groups – When Will the Church Notice The Problems?

We are in a church now with no youth group, at least nothing beyond a few youth sitting together at a table for lunch. It is nice to not be having to worry about what is being pushed on the youth in order to be relevant, hip or cool. Previously we attended a church that did have a youth group, although my children were not a part of it, I was still concerned about the other youth and the effect the youth group would have on them. So often when I voiced concerns with leadership they were shrugged off as being just silly ideas from that “silly, over-protective homeschool moma.” Funny thing is the secular media has started voicing the same concerns over and over again about church youth groups.

DefCon has posted some more of the secular media articles about church youth groups. I think it is well worth reading what the world is seeing in our churches. Sometimes it takes someone else to point out the obvious to us. 🙁

The state of the youth of the church.

When we decry the current condition of the youth in our churches (and the church as a whole) we are usually met with angry resistance. Now the condition of the youth (and the church) has gotten so bad that even secular news outlets are sitting up and taking notice.

The Wall Street Journal has recently reported on the sad state of the youth in American churches in an article aptly titled The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity.

But what sort of Christianity are they being converted to?

Truly is what you see in most youth groups Christianity? or is it World?



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Churches and Families

This whole article is worth reading whether or not you have children.  Here is just a portion of the article.

View church ministry through ‘family lens,’ conference speakers urge

…  Lance Crowell, an SBTC church ministries associate, shares Ross’s conviction that at least a generation has grown up largely seeing the church ministers as the experts. Crowell said, “One thing has to happen. We have to answer the questions, ‘Are people really growing in the Word, and is that happening in the home? Are students growing up in the Word? Or are parents lost as to what to do to help that?” 

Three resulting ‘disconnects’

More and more vocational staffers and ministry specialists have in many churches led to one type of disconnect—extensive segregation, according to Waylan Owens, dean of the Terry School of Church and Family Ministries at Southwestern Seminary. While Owens agrees that some segregation is useful, he also cautions that dividing all ministries according to age or life situation or preference serves to dishonor parents, dishonor the senior citizens, and dishonor the children and what they can add to the faith experience of adults. 

Speaking to the conference, Owens said, “Many times I go to churches and it seems there is always someone who wants to take my children from me. They take them to Sunday School, then to children’s church. The youth have their own Sunday School, their own worship, and their own Sunday night thing. I have gotten in trouble for wanting to keep my children with me.”

In a breakout session on home-based student ministry, Ken Lasater, Crowell’s colleague at the SBTC whose job title includes student ministry, noted a second disconnect: “Our students are not developing lifelong connections to the church.”

In recent years, research has indicated that between 70-90 percent of churched students leave the church after high school. While LifeWay Research numbers from 2007 indicated a minority of young adults who leave the church eventually return to their faith roots, Lasater said that the most recent statistics indicate that about 90 percent are leaving, not to return.

According to Lasater, their reasons for leaving vary and they seldom go away in anger. Without responsibilities to fulfill at their church or someone expecting them to be there, they stay away, and eventually fade away lacking any deep connection. Lasater said it’s important to note that most of these students are good kids from all socio-economic levels, achieving great things academically, and that their absence is not due to some great rebellion.

“Some have suggested that churches fail to do little more than entertain them, until they are tired of the entertainment. Others suggest that the current church model is entirely wrong, due to not having parents as the singular leadership role for students, and that this has been the sole cause of the falling away of the student population,” Lasater explained.

Another disconnect comes as parents of each successive generation generally become less and less grounded in their beliefs, thus lacking in passion and devotion as well.

Crowell encourages churches to think about how their families would answer these questions: “How equipped do you feel? Do you feel that you can go home and have spiritual conversations? Would your children ask questions that you don’t feel comfortable answering? Parents, are you growing in maturity at home and becoming more like Christ?”

“Muscles that are not used quickly atrophy,” Ross told the TEXAN.

He added, “Parents who depend on the church for the spiritual development of their children tend to atrophy as well. Our churches are packed with parents who are just ‘good ol’ Baptists,’ but are not deeply in love with Christ, do not adore him at the beginning of the day, and who think little about his kingdom purposes as they move through life. That never was God’s plan. When one generation always is focused on spiritually leading the next, both stay more spiritually alive.”  …

Here are a few ways my church is trying to address this issue.

1)  Families worship together.

2)  Children and youth are active participants in the church.  This is not the typical occasional participation in a special service or in a youth group, but every Sunday with the congregation.  Children and youth are encouraged to use their talents by playing hymns or special music.  The young men are encouraged to help with tables and garbage.  The young ladies are encouraged to help with the meal preparation, serving and cleaning.  Sound, projection, website design, bulletins, videoing, etc. can be delegated to the young men.  When they don’t know how to do these things we can be willing to teach them and not worry about perfect services.

3)  The bulletin includes some Baptist Catechism questions and a hymn of the month for families to work thorough with their children at home.  Who knows, parents may learn a thing or two, also, as they help their children.


Is your church losing their youth once they begin to drive or else when they graduate? 

Do the adults stop coming as often once the children are grown?

Do you even notice the trends in your church or denomination?



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Passionate Youth Groups

Pyromaniacs has written about the topic that I discussed in Youth Groups – Losing Your Inhibitions Is a Good Thing !?!  He shares some interesting points about being passionate Christians.  

What is the difference between true Christian passion and artificial passion induced by outside activities like music and activities? 

Worth contemplating!

Peanut-butter Passion by Phil Johnson

‘m a passionate person. People who know me will affirm that. I think Christians ought to be passionate about truth, passionate in our love for God and for one another, and (above all) passionate about the glory of God.

But raw passion is not the point. Passion is valid and edifies only when it’s the right kind of passion, based on legitimate affections for the right things. I’m concerned about the unbridled passions frequently turned loose by people whose only religious affections were cultivated in evangelical youth groups.   (And if I can speak freely: that includes a lot of of our so-called young, restless, and Reformed frends.)  Continue…

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What Do You Do About Sunday School?

Does your church have a Sunday School?

Does your family attend a church with the typical age divided Sunday School? or is it designed differently?

Does your church have “children’s church” or “youth church”?

Have you given any serious thought to the advantages or disadvantages to Sunday School?

What type material is used in the Sunday School? Is it the typical LifeWay lessons or something different?

My husband and a few people we know such as Mark & Kelly prepare their Sunday School lessons basing them on the Bible more than any canned lesson material.

We have been visiting smaller churches and if they have Sunday School the adults are typically together in the worship area so our children have stayed with us. One church we visit doesn’t have Sunday School but the worship services have a question and answer period at the end where individuals can ask questions and clear up confusion. Sometimes this time period can last a while when the lesson concerned a difficult passage.

The reason I ask about your Sunday School is due the post yesterday – Already Gone – Ken Ham. I found it interesting that my children and Terry‘s children as teens opted out of Sunday School for similar reasons.

How much thought have you given to Sunday School and the lesson material? Or do you participate because it is expected?



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Already Gone – Ken Ham

For years I have noticed that the churches I have been a part of have regularly been losing their children sometime around upper high school and especially after high school graduation. It was so noticeable in recent years that I pointed it out to church staff and questioned some of the activities and teaching directed toward the youth. Needless to say that didn’t go over well.

My older two children left Sunday School as middle schoolers but not to leave the church. They both independently at a certain point pointed out that the Sunday School was nothing more than the same stories over and over and they weren’t learning anything. My daughter was also bothered by the rude way the Sunday School children treated the teacher. Both my children found jobs in the church that took the place of Sunday School for them. Either doing the sound, working with the baby nursery, or playing instruments for the service took the place of the typical insipid Sunday School material. They both loved their Sunday School teachers but not the lesson material. Presently we are worshiping in churches where we can worship together as a family with more serious Bible study.

Well here is more research to point the problems we found even better than I could to others.

Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis has written a book called Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it.

This book looks at the way the church is losing their youth and why. The idea of Sunday School isn’t lost but we need to look seriously at what is being taught. Our children deserve more than watered-downed, warmed over “milk”; they need the “meat” of the Scripture or they will never grow. Imagine feeding your children just a diluted bottle until they are teens!

Ken Ham

“Because of the way in which they’ve been educated,” Ham said, teens come to believe “that what they are taught in school is reality, but the church teaches stories and morality and relationship. Bible teaching is not real in the sense of real history.”

A Shock to the Church

Over 40% in the survey had decided to leave the church by the end of middle and elementary school, and another 40+ % by the end of high school. These people–now young adults—were already having doubts about Christianity through elementary, middle, and high school. It wasn’t in college where most of them were lost—it was before that.

The second chapter in the book is one of the most shocking—we call it the “Sunday School Syndrome.” We found that those that went to Sunday school regularly as kids were worse off than those who didn’t—that Sunday school overall has been detrimental to a child’s spiritual health! Now we don’t advocate eradicating Sunday schools, but do advocate radical changes for teachers and the curricula. But you can’t deny the statistics—they are overwhelming. For instance, those who went to Sunday school were more like to defend abortion and pre-marital sex than those who didn’t attend Sunday school …

Already Gone – Book

The results are shocking:

  • Those who faithfully attend Sunday School are more likely to leave the church than those who do not.
  • Those who regularly attend Sunday School are more likely to believe that the Bible is less true.
  • Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend that abortion and gay marriage should be legal.
  • Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend premarital sex.

Below are two different interviews with Ken Ham concerning this issue.




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Consuming Fire

I really don’t understand how people will pick a verse for their theme verse and have no clue what it means. Does no one tell them? What about their own pastors?

Youth being reached for the Lord at ‘The Furnace’

They came up with the name ‘The Furnace’ from a verse of scripture in the Bible.

“Hebrews 12:29 says, For our God is a consuming fire,” said Kay. “If people start living for God and doing things for God, it will spread just like a fire. That is an awesome thing for God to spread out like that in this community, this county, this state and however far God wants to take it.”

Here is the full sentence.

Hebrews 12:28-29
28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
29 for our God is a consuming fire.
ESV

Is that a good thing to want God to come as a consuming fire? Only if you are righteous and holy.

Isaiah 33:10-16
10 “Now I will arise,” says the Lord, “now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted.
11 You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble; your breath is a fire that will consume you.
12 And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”
13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
16 he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.
ESV

Still not convinced how about these:

Exodus 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” ESV

Exodus 33:3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” ESV

Joshua 24:20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” ESV

2 Kings 1:12 But Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. ESV

Psalms 21:9 You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. ESV

Ezekiel 15:7 And I will set my face against them. Though they escape from the fire, the fire shall yet consume them, and you will know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them. ESV

See these for more information:

The first one has several more verses about God being a Consuming Fire.

My God is a Consuming Fire

My Favorite Quote from The Holiness of God Conference

Ligonier National Conference – R.C. Sproul (II) – A Consuming Fire: Holiness, Wrath and Justice

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Input Equals Output – AKA Garbage In, Garbage Out

A certain young boy grew up in the church. When he was a baby, they gave him juice and crackers in the nursery. When he got older, they gave him cookies and punch in the children’s program. Then, he finally got to the youth group and graduated to pizza and cokes (or I guess Krystal and cokes now). See Can You Believe This? Youth Pastor

This boy grew into a fine young man and went away to the finest college in the State. During his first day in his first class, the professor began to deride the Christian faith as a crutch and defied any student to defend their faith to the class.

Our young man, having been in church, rose up and said “I’m a Christian, and nothing you could ask could shake my faith.” So the professor asked him one of the pointed questions so common to skeptics, agnostics and atheists. You know the kind: “If God is a good, kind, and loving God, and if God is indeed all powerful, then why are there little helpless children suffering in the world?”

The young man opened his mouth to try to answer this question which he had never even heard of before. And do you know what came out of his mouth? Crackers and juice, cookies and punch, pizza and cokes.

Seriously, I think the worst advice we give anyone in regards to being able to witness for their faith is the old line “But no one can argue with your own personal experience.” Oh yes they can. And they will. The church needs to be a place for equipping the saints to be able to cogently defend the faith. And the church should have a goal in this equipping of the saints – help them reach maturity.

Ephesians 4:11-14

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
(ESV)

Berean Husband


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Give ’em The Meat

My Daughter is in a Youth Orchestra that is formed from students from North East Alabama who have auditioned for the seats. These students really desire to advance in their music beyond what the schools and private lessons allow. Essentially, you would have to say they have a heart for music.

Two weeks ago, they were given a new music piece to play, Jupiter from The Planets by Holst, they had already been practicing Mars. They sight read the part for the first time and where so disappointed. Why? The orchestration that they had to play was a simplified version, a water downed version. They knew that and where so disappointed that they begged for the original piece. These kids know their music! My daughter explained that this was one of her favorite pieces and that they had ruined it by taking out the good parts. They “detest” the weaker version. Therefore, they had to wait two weeks for the new full pieces to arrive.

Monday night they listened to the audio while reading over their respective parts. You should have seen the rapt attention they paid to the music. It was obvious they were thoroughly enjoying it. I sit in here every rehearsal and watch them. They were working so hard and paying close attention more so than the typical attention they pay to music. Their conductor has stressed to them how much work they will have to put in to get this piece ready for the concert in March. They voted and it was unanimous that they were going to do the full piece and not the simpler watered down version.

What does this signify? That youth who have a heart for a subject want the meat of the subject matter. This is evident in Bible study, also. The youth who truly have a heart for the Lord and Bible study want the real stuff, the meat. They can tell when they are getting a watered down version.

My husband taught Bible Drill for several years to fourth – sixth graders. The materials provided where as he said “insipid” so he would often do a short series on a different type topic. One topic was a study of Pilgrim’s Progress and another was a study on the history of the English Bible. The kids enjoyed the much harder material more than the material written for their supposed “grade-level.”

So give’em the meat and let ‘em chew!

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Twilight – Praised by Christian Groups?

twilight


Lighthouse Trails has a lengthy post about the book series Twilight and the subsequent movie. I have noticed that several “Christian” sites have recommended the series for teens due to the supposed good qualities of the books.

SPECIAL REPORT: Occultic Twilight Movie Praised by Christian Groups

The church and Christians are being deceived by many new-age occult philosophies and are promoting them as compatible with “Christian” ideals. To name just a few: The Secret came out in 2006, A Course in Miracles and the movie The Golden Compass in 2007. The seventh book in the Harry Potter series was released in 2007. In 2008, there was The Shack and the Oprah Winfrey endorsed book The New Earth.

Simultaneously, in 2006 a teenage phenomenon began gaining incredible momentum–a demonically-inspired series of vampire romance, which surprisingly has hoodwinked Christian youth who are confusing God’s love with sensual, romantic lust and His Word with occult philosophy. As Twilight lulls the spiritually asleep into a darker 2009, the church needs to wake up to the supernatural dangers these compromises pose.

The article then lists several favorable reviews from “Christian” resources including:

And can it get worse? The following quotes are from a Christian teen magazine, Campus Life’s Ignite Your Faith, a subsidiary of Christianity Today, Stacey Lingle (after reading the series) writes in her article, “What Shines in Twilight“: Looking at four key ideas of the vampire saga that stand out for Christ followers. “What do these books say about God, about life, and about love? In over 2,300 pages of reading, there’s a lot to digest. What are the key ideas and attitudes in the Twilight saga? A few stood out to me as a Christian.”

A part of the post includes this information about the music that inspired the author Stephenie Meyer. Shouldn’t this in itself be enough to be a concern to others.

Meyer, a Mormon mother of three, states that some of her inspiration in writing her vampire saga came from a band of musicians called Marjorie Fair. “For New Moon, they were absolutely essential. They can put you into a suicidal state faster than anything I know . . . Their songs really made it beautiful for me.” Also an inspiration for one of her characters was a band called My Chemical Romance. She states, “It’s someone . . . who just wants to go out and blow things up.



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The Centrality of the Home – Voddie Baucham


The Centrality of the Home – audio of sermon by Voddie Baucham


Eph 6:1-4

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord
. KJV

Family Driven Faith preview



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