Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The sad fruits of modern day youth ministry. . .

I have posted before of the dismal fruits of youth ministry designed to prevent our youth from being bored as opposed to the kind of youth ministry that raises up children and youth in the faith, to know the Word of the Lord, to be catechized in the faith, and to confront the hard questions of living as a Christian in a world unfriendly to the faith.

Here are some great programs on this topic from the White Horse Inn.

Listen here to part of the programing  and you can listen here to another program on this topic.

Our greatest fear is that our children will not have fun at church but the real danger is that we will disappoint them with a faith we treat as less than real, answers less than authoritative, and truth less than eternal.  It seems that the youth who drop out of the church from early college on are not hard core atheists who refuse to believe but those who wanted to believe but were disappointed in the faith the church offered them and severely lacking in the basic knowledge of who God is, what His Word says, and what it means to be saved by grace thought faith.  They have tasted the koolaid of moralism that masquerades as Christianity and knew enough to reject it but did not know what else to look for or where to find another, more authentic, Christianity.

Kids today need to hear more than the usual fare of "youth Bible studies" on drugs, sex, dating, and the internet.  Kids need to interact more with adults and adults more with youth in the church.  Kids segregated in a room full of old couches taught by some adult trying to be cool is not what kids want or need.  I do not fault the youth workers who have tried their best but we as the church have given them a flawed program and false goals.  We have tasked them with baby sitting our youth to keep them out of our hair when we should have been teaching our youth how to engage adults and adults how to engage youth in matters of faith and life in Christ.  Perhaps the adults are afraid and the youth tempted to choose fluff over real stuff but the end result of what we have been doing is that somewhere between 60-90 percent of non Roman Catholic youth leave the church sometime between high school and college.


Anonymous said...

You just don't get it, do you? Teens of today are not the teens of your generation. They have so much thrown at them, whether it be drugs and alcohol, or technology and all its pitfalls, or constant pressure to succeed and excel, and the list goes on and on. Is it any wonder that teen suicide and teen obesity are at all-time highs?

We have robbed our children of their childhood and their adolescence. From the time they're born, we're getting them ready for preschool, then kindergarten, then middle and high school, then college and a career. "Suceed," "excel," "do your best"...that's all they hear from the time they're old enough to listen. And there needs to be that...but there also needs to be time to be a kid and be around their peers and age group. Where's that time?

I think if we can spend a little time and resources developing programs that let our youth be youth, even if it only keeps one or two kids in church, then it's worth every dime.

Janis Williams said...

Anonymus, I'm sorry. I am of Fr. Peters' generation. I seem to remember sex, drugs and rock-and-roll as temptations in those ancient times, too. We had free love thrown at us, technology thrown at us (granted, no iPhones, but the tchnologies of our day), and
the pressure to succeed was super strong in my day. You could even succeed as a hippie.

I agree children are robbed of their childhood, generally by parents who have succumbed to the spirit of the age, and the desire to have for theirs that of which they feel they were deprived. Of this we need to repent and allow children to play and learn and receive instruction from parents and elders.

As for adolescence, it is a construct of American/European societies. Before the late 40s early 50s that word didn't exist. (I believe we have changed it's definition from the original, also.) Adolescence is a time in which we excuse rebelliion and sin as "sowing oats" and "experimentation." The consequences of this has been multifarious. We have young men unwilling to commit to any relationship other than a "hook up" We have young women who keep abortion in the back of their minds as a way out of a "mistake." We have a demographic which advertisers seek to sway to their products, many of which are detrimental. (This is where teen obesity comes from, in my opinion; if we don't feed them pizza, burgers and sweets at every youth gathering....)

I agree, what we instead need to feed our young people is less achievement-based self esteem. I think you misunderstand Fr. Peters, however. Youth need Truth and reality to stand them in good stead in life. Fun doesn't give them the tools they need for that. They need to know the achievement Jesus Christ has accomplished for us in His life, death, burial, and resurrection. They need to understand they don't need self-esteem; they need to realize they are sinners deserving punishnent, but they are redeemed, washed in Baptism, and FREED. Youth are freed by their received forgiveness, and are now free to not succumb to the pressures and temptations of the world, their own bodies, and Satan.

What we have done is to make our young people slaves to fun and perceived freedom as a getaway from the adult push to succeed. Neither end of that see saw places them on the Truth, the fulcrum from which life can be lived in the true freedom of forgiveness.

ErnestO said...

It may very well be that today talking about a stage of development of which you are not in yourself is not much more accurate than pareidolia (seeing faces in the clouds.

The PDF document on this site


covers religion rather well see pages 71-77