baby-being-fedAs an elder at the church, the small subset of the flock for which I am directly responsible, consists of the high school and college students. More college students than high school right now.

As I work at shepherding these young people, I’m always looking for ways to stir up their affections for the Lord and His Word. I attempt to teach deep truths in an engaging way and offer practical application. I don’t always accomplish this very well, but it’s the goal I’m striving for. The purpose being to raise them up in maturity, to help them increase their knowledge of God and affection for him, so that they may better serve as fruitful members of the body.

Two things I’m disturbed by in the American church “youth” culture.

1) Treating the “youth” as tomorrow’s church, rather than realizing they are part of the church NOW! They should be actively involved in fellowship with the whole church, acts of service within the church and community, worship with the corporate body, etc.

This goes hand-in-hand with a similar attitude that treats the elderly as yesterday’s church. The age segregation that occurs in our churches disturbs me greatly. I would like to see more intergenerational worship, teaching, fellowship, and service. I would like to see the elderly energized by the youth, and the youth taught by the experience of the elderly.

2) The intellectual and theological babying of young people in our churches. I am greatly disturbed by the shallowness of most of the teaching curriculum I see advertised for use by youth pastors. Are people really using this stuff?!! They must be, or it wouldn’t be produced and marketed in such alarming quantity.

An email I received this morning was advertising a Youth Leader resource.

Every three months we select the newest and best nine albums and one video from all the different Christian music companies and develop a music-based Bible study for each album.

They provided an example Bible study built around a song by the group Building 429. Let me say that I have nothing against this band. I’ve never really listened to them, but I’ve heard good things about them.

The “lesson” contains the following parts.

  1. A guessing game to be played by the youth.
  2. A”transition” time in which the youth leader is to explain that God is everywhere, all the time.
  3. Following this the students are to listen to the song with a worksheet in hand, filling in missing lyrics on the worksheet.
  4. Another “transition” time in which you discuss the song and make sure everyone filled in their sheets correctly.
  5. Reading of Psalm 139:7-12
  6. Four questions

    How did David describe the places where he couldn’t escape God’s presence?
    Why would David use “darkness” as one of his descriptions of where God is? (Because it’s easy to be afraid of the dark.)
    What are some places where you are glad God is present?
    Name some of the places or times when you aren’t so glad God is present everywhere, all the time.

  7.  A “Wrap Up” in which the youth leader explains that God being everywhere all the time is a good thing.
  8. A closing prayer circle.

Does it bother anyone else that the Bible study just barely covers two of the eight parts of this lesson? This might qualify as a Bible study for children’s church, might.

Christians in America wonder why young people are leaving the church in droves, while this is the sort of thing we are feeding them at the high school level? Seriously! They’re not kids. They are young adults. They are learning advanced mathematics, and philosophy in school, while the church plays games with them!

We need to wake up and start discipling these young people. Teach them theology. Prepare them to face the world in a deadly spiritual battle! Demonstrate that we take this seriously!

And finally, what all this says about the maturity level, teaching (in the spiritual gift sense) ability, and seriousness of youth leaders, is very sad.

Many youth leaders need much discipling themselves. They don’t have a firm grasp of (and can’t articulate) good theology themselves, how can we expect them to teach others. Often the youth leader in a given church is a college student, or recently graduated college student, who like video games as much as the youth themselves do. What the youth need is a responsible adult who will model maturity, discipline, responsibility, seriousness, etc., and teach them not to waste their lives in juvenile pursuits.