Monday, August 23, 2010

Evangelism Myth 10 - If We Only Get the Youth

One of the major myths that deals with Evangelism revolves around youth, and the idea is that if we only can somehow attract and appeal to the "youth", then we will have a vibrant, growing Church.

This is an utter myth, both in the short term and the long term. Why? As for the short term, imply put, kids aren't the majority of any Church population - they are small minority. They are young and vibrant, but just a minority. And often, they are a minority that isn't in control of where they are at. Sure, the ones who are over 16 might have a car - but other than that, they will rely upon parents for transport and things like that.

But more importantly - the youth constantly change - they constantly roll over. So you get a couple of dynamics with this -- first, they often move away, head to college, whatever. They will leave your own congregation - this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it won't necessarily mean growth for YOU. Have to accept that. More importantly - if you try to simply cater to and placate youth, you will have to change what you do with every new batch of high schoolers. What this constant focus on change will do is alienate other people.

Think about this - if you make the focus of your Church "youth" - you have the 17 year old who gets told everything revolves around them - you change, you jump through hoops, you try to be hip all to attract that 17 year old. Great. But what happens when they are 23? You aren't placating them anymore - you're placating the new 17 year old. . . and you've alienated them. You had told them they were special and awesome -- but now they aren't the center. If you run for the youth, you will alienate them once they are no longer youth - because you had taught them that Church is supposed to do what they want. . . and they will run off to the "Gen X" ministry, or the young adult ministry - what have you. This is to say nothing of alienating the adults and elderly if your attempt to please the youth at first involves demolishing the Church's tradition and identity.

Now, does this mean the mean Pastor Brown doesn't care about youth? Not at all - in fact, one of my great loves is Campus Ministry... but this isn't because "this will grow the church." Rather - instead of placating our youth - we need to raise them, instruct them, show and teach them not why "they" are important and how we should focus on them, but teach them why Christ is important, and why everything we do in the Church focuses on Christ... and how they won't get that focus elsewhere.

Other denominations placate people and itch their ears. Is it any mystery that youth whom we spend years placating wander off to new placators when they become old and our "we've got to get the youth" don't view them as so important anymore?

Rather, our task is to take everyone, male and female, Jew and Greek, slave and free, young and old - and focus them upon Christ and the gifts He gives to them. Sure, we can have groups and studies focused on whatever - ladies aid and men's club and youth and college and singles -- whatever -- but they need to be focused first and foremost on Christ and also upon being incorporated with the rest of the Church in worship and (literally incorporated) in the Supper.

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