Monday, May 16, 2011

It takes more than pizza and video games to give young people a faith that endures.

Worth reading for anyone interested in or involved in youth ministry (especially to teens).  I applaud the honesty in this article as one among the many voices who suggest that we are amusing our kids to death while failing at the central task of teaching them the faith...

We all should review what we are doing with our children in light of the points he has raised and the critique of others who suggest that youth ministry has become shallow and devoid of real substance, the Gospel that inhabits the youth room a sham and shell of that which the Scriptures preach...  Could THIS be one of the reasons why our kids are disappearing?

Excellent article in Christianity Today. The Red Bull Gospel... check it out!


Janis Williams said...

Reminds me of a sermon I heard a while back that suggested 'Burgers, Babes and Basketballs' don't cut it. Have also heard White Horse Inn make same types of comments.

Christian teachers have fallen into the 'edutainment' trap. Neil Postman's book: Amusing Ourselves To Death (now decades old) is still poignant today.

The question is: "Do WE (read: I) have an enduring faith worthy of passing on?"

Colleen Oakes said...

I agree that youth need real leadership, solid theology and that the focus needs to be on their faith rather than their entertainment.

However, if we try to convince ourselves that youth really love long boring Bible studies, tedious confirmation classes and things that our 80 year old members enjoy, than we are lying to ourselves. These kids sit in dull classrooms all day - do we really want to say that their faith is exactly the same as every other fact-retention learning?

It also shouldn't be "Jesus is awesome, here is a Red Bull".

There is a way to do both. We have a thriving youth program at our church, a thriving confirmation program and we have a very high retention rate of our kids that go off to college and either continue attending our church or find a LCMS church there to attend.

Anonymous said...

Long boring Bible studies and tedious confirmation along with fact-retention learning. Oh my.

Even a man as learned as Herr Doktor Martin Luther humbly submitted himself to the Catechism and said he gladly remained a student thereof.

Yes, in today's instant, technocratic society we must, above all things, keep that attention span.

But you know what, Colleen? Like many young adults I fell away from the church for a period of time, couldn't be bothered with all that boring Bible study, Confirmation study, and fact-retention learning. But when God in His mercy brought me back from my foolishness it was exactly those things that kicked back in as I visited Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. churches and remembered that I was a Lutheran, and that being Lutheran meant I believed some very specific things that had a long and honored history spanning over the centuries. It DID matter.


Anonymous said...

Is there no choice between Red Bull and Pizza and long boring lessons and catechism memorization? Are not the Word of God and the Catechism exciting because of their content if nothing else? And if we teach them correctly the study of these is itself a reflection of the excitement of their content.

Colleen Oakes said...

I wanted to clarify - I think these are good and neccessary things - bible studies, confirmation and learning the history of Christianity as well as of Lutheranism, but I also think old school Lutherans love to lie to themselves and say "Well, it's RIGHT so they must love it." Fact: unless you engage your youth and have a teaaching style that reflects how teenagers learn, retain and enjoy fellowship, they will sit silently and bored, until some other church body excites them. There is NOTHING wrong with making your youth excited about church. This would be like saying we should just straight up teach the catechism to 5 year olds. We need to teach these materials at the level of development that our youth are at. I find it naive to convince yourself that the high schoolers will behave and learn as Seminarians. Should they learn these things? Yes. Is there anything wrong with combining their learning with mission trips, concerts and youth-centered events and maybe the occasional pizza? NO.

Anonymous said...

Good article.

Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

We need to teach these materials at the level of development that our youth are at. I find it naive to convince yourself that the high schoolers will behave and learn as Seminarians.

That is exactly how I learned the Catechism and other Lutheran materials, at the appropriate level of development. No one expects high schoolers to behave and learn as seminarians.

Then there was my faithful Lutheran grandmother, who knew her Bible backwards and forwards and carried it to worship every Sunday.
I think she made the greatest impression of all.

It is said that the Bible is the most purchased book in America and also the most unopened.

Perhaps we need to begin there, reaffirming the Lutheran Reformation's commitment to the Word of God.