Why youth ministry is failing and this generation won’t win the world for Christ

Sure, it’s a big cross. But will it get teens fired up?

After my guest post on Defeating the Dragons, I decided to start a series on modern youth ministry and my experiences within it. Enjoy.

The other day, a fellow church member posted the following quote from Greg Stier, founder of Dare 2 Share youth ministries:

Here are three quick, yet powerful reasons to reach the next generation with the message and mission of Jesus:

1. The vast majority of people who trust in Jesus as their Savior do so before the age of 18.

2. Christian teenagers can be mobilized to reach their friends for Christ quickly and effectively.

3. If Christian teens are trained and unleashed to reach their circle of influence for Christ, this nation can be transformed from the inside out and the bottom up.

As a former preaching pastor and church planter I can tell you with firm conviction that I did not get into youth ministry because it was cute. I chose to go into youth ministry because it was strategic.

Let me just say for the record, I’m not here to critique Stier’s ministry. Up until the other day, I’d never even heard of Dare 2 Share. It could very well be a wonderful, life-changing program. However, I will say this: Stier’s comments are nothing new to me. I’ve been listening to similar statements for over 15 years.

And whenever I hear them, alarm bells start ringing. Continue reading

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What it Means to be Christian (Part 2): Love

In my last post with this title, I addressed the matter of faith in Christ’s divinity and redemption as a requisite for being a disciple of Christ. Today, I’m going to talk about the second defining characteristic of a Christian: love.

The Greatest Commandment

It never ceases to amaze me that many so-called ‘prominent Christians’ express so little regard for what the Bible calls the greatest fruit of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 13:13). Yes, even greater than faith. That’s because love sums up every Old Testament commandment: Continue reading

This election season, remember this:

This Christian walk is not about determining which candidate will be the most socially conservative. It’s not about voting for the “party of values.” It’s not about who is most “Christian” in their beliefs. It’s not about who will put prayer back in schools or advocate for the teaching of Creationism in our science classes.

It’s not about who attends church every Sunday. It’s not about who tithes the most or who gives the most to charity. It’s not about who worked the hardest and made their own fortune with the least government assistance. It’s not about who will create the most jobs or who will get lazy people off of welfare.

It’s not about keeping the name of God on our money or in our pledge. It’s not about keeping the 10 commandments in post offices or on national monuments. It’s not about ensuring that our leaders will continue to have prayer at their inaugurations or other special events. It’s not about whether the White House participates in the National Day of Prayer or celebrates non-Christian holidays.

It’s not about seeing how many times lawmakers can invoke the name of God in our foreign policy legislation. It’s not about which leaders visit Israel the most or give Israel the most foreign aid. It’s not even about giving aid to Israel. Continue reading

Witnessing Without Words

Yesterday, while working in my yard, my thoughts turned to a former co-worker named Joan. When I knew her, Joan was not a Christian. I don’t know if she is one today. Yet she did more to encourage my faith than probably any pastor I’ve had. She also taught me an important lesson about witnessing for Christ.

Joan and I worked in a grocery store bakery. I decorated cakes; she made donuts. Our manager, Bonnie, attended my church. Bonnie was very outgoing about her faith. If a customer mentioned that he or she was sick or in trouble, Bonnie would offer to pray for them–right there in the store! Bonnie didn’t bother much with passing out tracts or literature; she practically preached from the bakery counter. When the occasion called for it, she made it clear to her fellow employees that she wanted nothing to do with anything questionable or worldly. Bonnie was the kind of Christian my youth group always encouraged me to be: the conspicuous kind. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t me. I didn’t exactly keep my faith a secret; everyone knew I attended church with Bonnie. But I didn’t feel comfortable inserting Jesus into every conversation or praying with others at the counter.

Needless to say, Joan wasn’t interested in any of Bonnie’s attempts to convert her. Whenever Bonnie started going on about worldliness or the provision of God, Joan just shook her head. Joan and her entire family were staunchly anti-religion. Her daughter even dabbled in witchcraft. Yet, to me, Joan was the most interesting person there. She was funny and sarcastic. We got along great.

Now, Bonnie and I decorated cakes with another woman named Pam. Pam was also a Christian and often played piano at church. This posed something of a problem. Continue reading