Is youth ministry unbiblical?

An old post I wrote back in 2005 about youth ministry as an unbiblical position is gaining a lot of controversial attention.

  • Is it biblical for a church to pay its pastors?
  • Is youth ministry even found anywhere in scripture?
  • Are churches going completely the wrong direction with its approach to ministry?

What do you think?

Posted on January 28, 2007

  • Tim … I think folks today are too quick to throw down the gauntlet of opinion and slow to take up the cross and follow Christ.

    wayne gooden

  • I think this issue is made worse by what people think youth ministry ought to be. Most people think youth ministry is the church playground, or the really cool worship environment, or a place to keep kids off drugs and sexually abstinent. If people knew what really happens in youth ministry – discipleship, counsel, etc. – then I think they would be more apt to see the leaders of that ministry as pastors (i.e people who take on a personal responsibility for others spiritual health).

    Youth ministry is just as Biblical as most of what the church does today and more Biblical than some.

    Having said all that, I believe that most churches are going the wrong direction in youth ministry. I see too many churches using young guys who have plenty of time to keep kids busy and off the streets. It reminds me of that movie The Devil Wears Prada. The church asks a lot of youth ministry people and doesn’t equip them or compensate them very well. They encourage youth guys to keep parents happy rather than confronting people on problems, they encourage 60-80 hour weeks, they expect youth leaders to be at every game; and for that they will one day be held accountable. Not all churches are like this, but I have seen it enough to know that it is the majority.

  • Tim

    Yeah… and I think there are some people who just have nothing better to do with their time than attack those who believe differently than they do. It’s just not worth arguing about, ya know? We hold different opinions, neither of us are going to change, so why not just embrace the diversity and focus on what really matters: reaching lost souls for Christ and discipling those already on the journey.

  • grant

    I once got this.

    I then wrote this…

    My opinion hasn’t really changed since.

    I’m now in a place where if someone doesn’t think yp is necessary – great. Go live in a cave somewhere and don’t bother me while I’m working. (Tim’s just a lot nicer in his wording than I am!)

  • Good thoughts, I’ve been lurking in the background for a little while now, and have really enjoyed the thoughts, and such, so thank you.

    On this topic… I know that we cannot find a biblical model of “Youth Ministry” in the word, but what I do see is more of a family focus and a generational aspect of ministry. I see the idea of family and in the culture how a family would be together, and with other families. There is something beautiful about that fellowship, the sharing, and interaction, that families had. I think when we look at alot of the problems and frustrations that we deal with not only in the church, but in society as a whole, stems from the decline of family (loss of father, or mother, or unnatural family settings). Does this play true into our ministries?

    I’ve been thinking about this alot and we are moving intentionally into making more family events, and family worship times. We do at least 1 of these each every quarter, with special times in there as well. I know that we all have students, whose families don’t attend our church, and students whose families may be so disconnected or removed from them, I encourage families to “adopt” those students, and make them part of their families for that evening. It has been a huge success, we have seen relationships in families not only strenghten, but heal, we have seen a larger role and support of the ministry from parents, and our main services have become more packed, lively, and responsive. We are also implementing a generational friendship program, students with older adults and seniors, a blessing goes both ways in that one… but that’s a whole other post.

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  • Tim

    Kerry, I’m also a fan of intergenerational/family ministry. When I worked at a church in Virginia Beach I held a parents/student night of fun family-building activities and games for the purpose of strengthening the relationships, opening communication and building trust. Unfortunately, many kids showed up, but only about half the parents. That showed me a lot about what was going on in that community: kids were willing to connect with their parents, but the parents didn’t place nearly the same value on it. Kinda sad.

  • I suppose it depends on what you mean by youth ministry. If systematically seperating students and creating structures that don’t connect adults with teens is youth ministry.. then no… youth ministry is not biblical.

    If you mean, the bible talks about ministry to people and youth are people then yes youth ministry is biblical. :-)

  • Interesting discussion. Where do I find this free video they mentioned on the radio today?

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