Are we failing our youth? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
A recent comment on my post on Do Youth Need Apologetics was about how our youth are being entertained to keep them in the church more instead of being given substance. This is an increasing problem in our church as more and more are falling away and it is not because we lack the resources to help them. We have all we need to win the battles. We’re just not distributing our weapons properly.
Of course, there is something to be said about how we package our material. There is no need to be boring. As much as I love Aristotlean-Thomistic thought, I have said that if someone wants to get a good night’s sleep, then all they need to do is pick up some Aristotle and read it for a little while. His substance is great, but his presentation is incredibly boring. Some have even speculated that Aristotle’s books could be the class notes of those that studied under him.
So making the presentation one that people can pay attention to is important. This does not change the most important part that is being neglected. There is much in the delivery, but the problem is that we are not delivering anything. We are getting youth often caught up in an emotional high and that will only last as long as the emotions do, and we all know that emotions do not last forever.
Of course, this does not mean that emotions are bad. Emotions should be in accordance with our reason. Too often, we have the tail wagging the dog instead of the other way around. If a person no longer feels Christianity is true, then they start thinking it is no longer true, when this is something your emotions cannot tell you. Your emotions can tell you about your response to something, but they cannot tell you about the external something in itself.
Our solution to the apostasy problem is to go with the emotional route. Let’s give our youth even more entertainment! If this works so well, it is a question why we don’t do it in regular services.
Instead of having a sermon, let’s have a comedy show done regularly instead. Adults like to watch Sitcoms after all. Let’s give them a new episode every week. We can make videos of them and let new members to the church see what they missed in past seasons.
Or, we can just find the music the older people in the church will enjoy and put on concerts regularly. We can bring in the greatest names in Contemporary Christian Music. The great entertainment will make sure the adults still keep coming to church.
If that doesn’t work, we can always make sure that every church service has a grand meal to go with it and have everyone bring whatever they like to it.
Surely if we keep entertaining the people in the church, then they will grow into strong and battle-hardy Christians who are ready to go and win the world for Christ.
Or maybe not.
They might be laughing and enjoying themselves, but when they’re out in the battlefield, what are they going to be able to do. They cannot just laugh and expect the threat to go away. That is a great way to shield oneself, but it will not defeat the opposition. Unfortunately, this seems to be our modus operandi in the church. If we just ignore the atheist movement and focus on preaching the gospel, then the atheist movement will just die on its own.
The only problem with this great scenario is that it’s not true.
Non-Christian forces are fighting for our youth and they are having an impact. If we think that we’re going to win the battle on entertainment, let’s just consider a simple question. Which one will the average teenager who is not a Christian want more to go to? Will they want to go to that youth group meeting where they will have pizza and play board games and talk about the Bible, or, will they want to go to that party with loud music, beer, drugs, and wanton sex?
Heck. There are some Christians who could quite likely choose #2, and not for witnessing opportunities.
If we think we’re going to win the entertainment contest, we’re not. This is especially the case if our youth are told they will face great guilt if they drink, do drugs, or have pre-marital sex. The reality is a lot of them when they do this just don’t. They can have pre-marital sex and feel just fine and then wonder “Well this was no big deal despite what the church says. I wonder what else I can do? I also wonder what else the church is wrong about.” Of course, some will feel this guilt, but not all.
This does not mean of course the youth group should never do anything entertaining. I have no problem with pizza parties and CCM concerts per se. The problem is that all of our eggs are being placed in this basket and none of our eggs are being placed in the teaching basket. When our youth go off to college, they are not going to be able to handle the opposition that they face because entertainment will not do it.
The sad truth is that this warning has been raised before and it has been disregarded. We can only hope that the church will wake up and start doing what it needs to do. We have the resources. We have the means. We just aren’t following through.