Albert Mohler alerted his readers yesterday of an interesting story in Time Magazine about the turning tide of youth ministry. In the current issue of Time, writer Sonja Steptoe was suggesting that evangelical youth ministry is “trending toward substance and away from what it calls a ‘sugarcoated’ approach.”
Youth ministers have been on a long and frustrating quest of their own over the past two decades or so. Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugarcoated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early ’90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at all.
Whose ministries were specifically being looked at? None other than Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Although this is exciting, we need to remember that it may not necessarily be true — but I am leaning towards the understanding that Christian teenagers in this age are moving towards substance, towards a deeper faith in Christ. They are searching for something that has meaning and “meat” instead of entertainment or “baby’s milk.” Many churches and youth groups are not doing a good job of growing young believers to become leaders in the church. Instead, they entertained so much that they lose focus on the main things, the important things, and when it is time to leave they desire to stay in their comfort zones within the youth group. Youth pastors and leaders need to get their young people out of their comfort zones and begin to help them grow spiritually mature — otherwise, they will not stay.
In keeping with the thought of young men and women searching for substance and great teaching, I stumbled across an article by Rebecca Hagelin, writing about Salvo Magazine.
“Salvo is a quarterly publication, and you can subscribe or secure a copy of the autumn 2006 premiere issue, which covers everything from euthanasia to evolution,” she wrote. “The Salvo team presents the moral side of these issues so skillfully that young adults who might normally tune out a stodgy lecture will find themselves absorbed — and beginning to realize thereâ€™s another side to these issues — namely, a moral perspective that works. A quick trip to www.SalvoMag.com is certain to whet your appetite for more.”
And even more evidences of a changing generation can be seen through Regenerate Our Culture, the Rebelution movement, Teen Pact, Communicators for Christ, NCFCA, and many other organizations. The tide very well may be turning.