Monday, July 9, 2012

Are Youth Groups Beneficial or Even Biblical?

I’m posting a link to a documentary on church youth groups and family-integrated worship that is a must see if you are at all involved in a church. It doesn’t matter if you have children or if you participate in youth ministry, because this documentary speaks to so much more. When all is said and done it speaks to family, corporate worship, discipleship and how youth groups and youth-segregated worship services are, in many cases, eroding Biblical bonds in the family and the Body of Christ.

Created by the Leclerc Brothers, two young men from my local community, and presented by Philip Leclerc, the documentary traces the history of youth groups and Sunday school, showing how the public school model quickly infected the church. The ripple effect is that now, in our churches and in our homes, adults and children are spiritually “Divided.” Watch the film here:

It’s amazing how we go through the motion of self-perpetuating human traditions like Sunday school, youth group, seminary-trained youth pastors, confirmation class and 3-times a week church in spite of the fact that many of us have never done a Biblical exegesis on any of it; we’ve never tested it against Scripture. I’m not saying that there is one way to do things. I’m saying that all of the above traditions are often the only way things are done and wielded as church mandates, with little or no Biblical foundation to support it.

If a church wants to have youth group, fine. And on the occasions that folks can speak to its benefits, great! But for those who realize it isn’t Biblical, and that youth group actually can pull families and churches apart generationally and create spiritually lazy parents, families, and churches, they don’t have to go along. They can confidently say “no thank you” to youth programming and look to the Bible to see how they are to parent their children and train them up in the faith. They can, and must, reassert their Biblical role as parents (and for those who defend youth groups due to the dysfunction of some of the youth's home life: that's where adult mentors drawn from the larger congregation comes in; intergenerational interaction at all levels of church). That’s what is great about “Divided” the documentary. It promotes right Biblical thinking on family-integrated and extended church-family church. 

It’s sad to think that this will be a “new” concept to many. It’s sad to think it took me 21 years to come to this same conclusion through my own experience as a youth leader and as the parent of two sons with their own experiences in everything from Christian youth conferences and rock festivals, youth mission trips, “children’s church” and youth group.

No “authority” in the corporate church ought pressure anyone into programming that divides the generations, or teach, “This is what good Christian parents do.” Christian parents go to God in prayer, seeking His guidance in His Word, relying on the counseling of the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth about the training of their children, the fellowship of the family and the gathering together of the Body of Christ.

“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:13-14

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23

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