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I’m So Tired of Programs

Warning: Young person rant has been detected below. 

It’s official.  I have now become one of those people who thinks the churchy ways we do things is just dumb.  I know that this makes me one of those young people who thinks all old things are stupid only to one day have young people think my things are stupid.  I know that there are reasons that our methodology came into being.  I know that it seems to work for so many churches.  Unfortunately, I still feel this way.  I am so sick of doing church the way that we have always done it.

Recently I listened to a conversation from the Church at Brook Hills regarding the discipling of the next generation.  They pointed out that today’s Church presently has the best curriculum, the best facilities, some of the biggest personalities, and even the most informed research that we have ever had when it comes to youth ministry, BUT we are seeing so many fewer teens becoming Christians and living out their faith.  What is the problem?  Did we get so caught up in improving our programs and youth rooms that we forgot what we were actually trying to do?  Did we think that a better logo would save souls?  Did we put our faith into our curriculum to the point that we forgot what that curriculum was supposed to do?  Did we decide that it was actually justified to spend 25 hours a week preparing our 30 minute Wednesday night talk that only a couple of kids would take to heart anyway?

I must confess that I am guilty of much of this, but I can no longer buy the lie that simply having a better set of events and weekly programs will grow our students’ faith and/or bring them to Christ.  Maybe this is one of those pivotal developmental moments that youth ministers are supposed to have.  Maybe what I am discovering is that my focus has been incredibly misappropriated.  What I am discovering is that making disciples is both much simpler and much more complex.  It is simpler because we don’t have to find the next gimmick or graphic.  It is more complex because now it means we have to significantly increase our engagement in the lives of the students.

I have about 25 students who are a part of my student ministry who I only see a couple times a month.  Some of these I only see on Sunday mornings if I look around in the worship center.  Despite dozens of invitations, these students have chosen not to commit to attending our programs or events.  I ask myself how much have I committed to them.  Why is it that I am defining commitment to attendance at a program?  Why is it that, outside of inviting them to events and weekly programs, I have very little to offer them in terms of discipleship?  This has led to a new set of questions.  How can I help in their discipleship process when they are with their parents or at home?  Is there a way to connect them to the church without forcing them to make a choice between their job or their sports and church?  Am I demonstrating through my approach that the only way to be discipled is to come on Wednesday and Sunday nights?

These are big questions, and I want to have answers.  What this does not mean is that I will now cancel all of my programs and events.  What is does mean is that I need to start looking at the programs as small parts of a bigger picture of discipleship.  This means putting the larger goal of making disciples in front at all times.  It means that I cannot do all of this by myself.  I can singlehandedly run a program, even a student ministry.  I cannot make disciples.  I need to start making disciplers.

Published inMinistry Philosophy

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