Author Topic: Teens and Faith  (Read 9395 times)

Steverem

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2007, 01:03:04 PM »

I think we are missing one major point here. That major point is that we are operating from a mentality of "gettting youth into our churches".

Why do we still have that mentality? Are we a club of some sort? I think we need to be out WHERE the youth are-coffee shops, concerts, movies, bars, wherever it may be.

And we have to do it intentionally-they won't often engage us on "our turf" ,  so do we  go to them?

I say this being a part of a church that has 250 active senior highs and about the same middle schoolers. Our youth ministry (which I have little or anything to do with)  is active and dynamic, but I do get concerned we are missing a whole mission field of kids that we are just ignoring, or overlooking.

From my experience (involved over 20 years in youth ministry on various levels), the "active and dynamic" church youth ministries are the ones that are seeking to go where the kids are.  And you're right--if we wait for young people to walk through our church doors to minister to them, we are missing the opportunity to minister to the overwhelming number of teenagers who will never do that.

I'm going to be the proverbial "stick-in-the-mud" in this discussion and ask a question that has not yet been asked of the proponents of "going out" to wherever.  My question is simple and straightforward on its face: "What are the limits to which the Church 'goes out,' and where do we then ask those 'out there' to 'come in' to a life of discipleship?"

Let me illustrate: A Church in Huntington, WV, held a "WrestleMania" style "worship drama" to reach out to the "unChurched" using a popular form of entertainment, complete with mock violence.  Is this acceptable?  Are there places the Church will not go in an effort to "reach out?"  What, exactly, are the limits to which the Faith can accomodate pop culture?

And further: What sorts of disciples are we growing when the Church is the only active seeker?  I have a similar question around "seeker" worship that is almost completely unlike the primary worship of the congregation; how does this help welcome the "outsider" and the "seeker" into the Faith and discipleship of Jesus who is unlike and bigger than ourselves?

I am not advocating the "passive" approach of "our doors are open, why aren't they coming in."  Nor am I advocating a "maintence" model of faith that simply seeks to maintain the status quo.  But I think this idea of taking the Church "out" to wherever has real limits and weaknesses.

But, as so many others have pointed out on other issues, I may not have a clue on what I speak.
Pax Christi;
Pr. Jerry Kliner, STS

To me, it's much more simple than that.  It means going to the local H.S. football games and getting to know teens there.  It means finding out what your church's teens are into, and going to those events to support them.  (Oh, for a dime for every band concert or J.V. football/volleyball/baseball/soccer game I've attended!)  In doing this, we are building up the teens already in our churches, and we are getting the opportunity to meet and minister to their friends and classmates.  Some of those might actually come to church or youth group events in the future, but even for the vast majority of those you meet who won't, you are given the opportunity to reflect Christ in an environment that doesn't always embrace the faith.

It's not a matter of accomodating pop culture, but a matter of being light in the darkness.

John Dornheim

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2007, 01:59:51 PM »

Actually, not true at all. The evidence from Barna and many others suggest the generations Brian mentions have absolutely no family or corporate memory of the church at all. Unlike some boomers who returned, or others raised in the faith who quit for awhile, or those who switched denominations, these generations have no concept of church other than what media has told them.

I think it is a seismic shift. Certainly, every generation is concerned about those who follow, and can't fully understand the newer generations, but it is definetley stick your head in the sand time if no one sees that our youth today are FAR different than even the youth of just 20 years ago.

Jeff Ruby   


There is, as the preacher said, nothing new under the sun.

John Dornheim

Like I said, there is nothing new under the sun. Those who suggest otherwise are just trying to justify their existence.

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Michael_Rothaar

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2007, 02:17:03 PM »
I am confused: On what is the comment that CHristianity o longer looks like Jesus based?  It suggests that they know what Jesus was like or at least think they do.  Whence came this knowledge? 

Although George Barna usually comes up short methodologically (as reviewed by opinion researchers and sociologists of religion), his intuition and trend-spotting more often than not ring true to experienced practitioners. That's certainly true in this case.

The Chicago Tribune recently did yet another article about Willow Creek, which has plateaued in membership and attendance for several years now. Read it at http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/printedition/saturday/chi-willow_25nov24,0,6582723.story.

The essence of their research conclusions is that for many people it is enough to feel welcome in a generally religious but culturally familiar environment (my quick summary  of the first part of the Willow Creek ministry model), but that for most people it is not sustainable in the long term, and for younger adults it is not enough to begin with. The trend they've seen is that either people will get bored and give up the religion thing altogether, or deliberately seek spiritual growth and nurture.

An illustrative quote from the article, which was written by Trib religion writer Manya Brachear:
Jerry Thornhill and his wife are among the seekers who came to Willow Creek based on its reputation as a relevant and welcoming place. And it was. "When we first started there, we really loved it," he said.

But after a few years, Thornhill said, "We felt like we were kind of stagnating."

Thornhill, who is a veterinarian. , only had time to attend church once a week, so he relied heavily on the message from the pulpit to stoke his faith. He found the guidance he was looking for at Harvest Bible Chapel, another mega-church in nearby Rolling Meadows."You don't dare show up there without a Bible -- we dissect the verses and put them back together. We didn't find that at Willow," Thornhill said. "Harvest is more like a classroom ... whereas Willow is a very emotional roller-coaster."


The Pew Research Center published a 2006 study of 18-25 year olds (at http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=300). Typical of all social opinion research taken of every generation at this age, "They are generally happy with their lives and optimistic about their futures. Moreover, Gen Nexters feel that educational and job opportunities are better for them today than for the previous generation. At the same time, many of their attitudes and priorities reflect a limited set of life experiences."

"A majority says that "getting rich" is the main goal of most people in their age group, and large majorities believe that casual sex, binge drinking, illegal drug use and violence are more prevalent among young people today than was the case 20 years ago. In their political outlook, they are the most tolerant of any generation on social issues such as immigration, race and homosexuality.

"They use technology and the internet to connect with people in new and distinctive ways. Text messaging, instant messaging and email keep them in constant contact with friends. They maintain close contact with parents and family. Roughly eight-in-ten say they talked to their parents in the past day. Nearly three-in-four see their parents at least once a week, and half say they see their parents daily.

"One-in-five members of Generation Next say they have no religious affiliation or are atheist or agnostic, nearly double the proportion of young people who said that in the late 1980s. And just 4% of Gen Nexters say people in their generation view becoming more spiritual as their most important goal in life." 


(Note: there's a huge difference between "what I think most people my age do and think" and "what I do and think." This report garbles the two, or the questions weren't asked both ways.)

When this generation moves along to a more complex "set of life experiences," the question for us is whether we've planted in their emotional/spiritual toolbox the items that Irl mentioned: there is a power greater than you, who is a divine person, who both loves you and has expectations for how you should live. God has taken the extraordinary step of becoming "one of us" (remember that old song from the 90s?) -- this is the Jesus who is worshiped by Christians. This God, whose Holy Spirit invites us into his presence and builds up our Spirit, is available to each of through the Word, through Holy Baptism, and through Holy Communion.

To the extent it's true that God is known to this generation only through public media reports -- one must ask whether they'd hear such "basics" anytime they show up in our congregation on a Sunday, or how "the youth director who always goes to their recital or game" gets the opportunity to say them.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2007, 02:18:36 PM by Michael_Rothaar »
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Keith Falk

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2007, 02:23:36 PM »
I attended a Pericope Study for Advent/Christmass/Epiphany at Trinity Lutheran Seminary a few weeks ago.  Jay Gamelin, campus pastor at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) was the presenter.  The focus was on preaching to post-moderns.  One of Jay's main qualifications was his age (34, I believe).  Being one of the only two other post-moderns in the room (both of us pastors, I'm 27, the other is 28) made for an interesting experience.  Post-moderns, for the purpose of the discussion, were people born post 1970.  

As to church bringing and/or atheism... the question no longer is, "What church do you attend?" or even, "What is your religion?" when young people talk about religion/spirituality.  The first question is, "Do you believe in God?".

I think Bishop Benke was at least partially correct in the "old-fashioned, political" and intolerant peices.  We have grown up seeing "conservatives/Republicans/right-wing/(insert favorite label here)" people embrace intolerance and then seen the hypocricy of "liberals/Deomocrats/left-wing/insert-favorite-label-here" claiming to be tolerant but being every bit as intolerant of people who don't fit their label.  Post-moderns, broadly speaking, reject those labels because they just don't seem to work.  That isn't to say there are no absolutes (despite popular mythology to the contrary about the post-moderns) - just that there are fewer.  Pastor Gamelin pointed out that his "kids" at tOSU do have absolutes.  Jesus is the Christ, Son of God who died for the world, for example.

There does need to be a reaching out/going out (like to the sporting events, concerts, plays, etc).  But if the church accomodates (see: Halo Night), then nothing will happen.  Authenticity is critical.  Go out - but be the Church, NOT society at large or the culture.  Be the Church.

There is nothing new under the sun in the sense that the Church has had to face ever-changing realities in the culture-at-large.  But we are seeing a shift out of the Industrial Age into the Information Age.  Ask your junior high and high school students where they do their research.  You're likely to hear "wikipedia" before "encyclopedia".  There is so much information available that kids need to/are being taught the tools to retrieve and process information, rather than the information itself.  And things are moving so quickly that at the ripe old age (HA) of 27, my computer experiences are being outdated.  "Pastor, you mean... you worked on computers without a mouse in the 5th grade?"  E-mail is becoming outdated (text/instant messaging anyone?)  Experiences being outdated isn't new.  The rate at which it is happening is out of sight.

I suppose I could ramble on, but this is enough post-lunch Thanksgiving leftover induced forum posting for now.
Rev. Keith Falk, STS

jrubyaz

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2007, 02:53:30 PM »
So, John, in your opinion, then what Barna does is irrelevant to reaching the unchurched?

Jeff Ruby



Actually, not true at all. The evidence from Barna and many others suggest the generations Brian mentions have absolutely no family or corporate memory of the church at all. Unlike some boomers who returned, or others raised in the faith who quit for awhile, or those who switched denominations, these generations have no concept of church other than what media has told them.

I think it is a seismic shift. Certainly, every generation is concerned about those who follow, and can't fully understand the newer generations, but it is definetley stick your head in the sand time if no one sees that our youth today are FAR different than even the youth of just 20 years ago.

Jeff Ruby   


There is, as the preacher said, nothing new under the sun.

John Dornheim

Like I said, there is nothing new under the sun. Those who suggest otherwise are just trying to justify their existence.

John Dornheim

Dave Benke

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #20 on: November 28, 2007, 03:29:26 PM »
I don't think it's as much "what you do," even though I brought it up, but "who you are."  If you're viewed as standoffish and stiff, you're not going to get into the relational level, no matter whether your praise dancers do some hip-hop, or as with Peter's group, you eschew hip-hop completely.  I find it to be the "not approachable" vibe that kids are rejecting out of hand, plus when you hear "old-fashioned" you may be led to understand that there are only half a dozen people under 60 in the building.  The smaller parishes of which I am one in pastoral function also have the issue of less kids in the house to begin with, and less adult leaders to work with. 

Dave Benke

Matt Staneck

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #21 on: November 28, 2007, 03:49:24 PM »
Well, being a recent former teenager myself and someone who works closely with teens in the church, I figured I would weigh in.

It has been my experience, and in talking with others whom I went through the church with, that the temptations of the world can and will weigh all too heavily upon the shoulders of the youth.  It is no secret that between the ages of 12-19 young people go through some dramatical changes.  One of those changes and one of those things that arise if the need to be loved and accepted.  Where the church rejects and fails to show such love and acceptance, the world steps in and however vainly, fills that gap in.  Sometimes the church does it accidentally.  As with teens, cliquey groups form and can unintentionally, as well as intentionally, hurt the feelings of "outsiders" or newcomers into the youth ministry or the church.  It usually seems that junior high kids are easier to reel in with goofy games nights or overnighters at some extravagant places, and in my congregation we have confirmation in 7th and 8th grade so the education and instruction is still something they are going through so they seem to stick around.  A big fall out point, although currently at home that trend seems to be changing, is around the beginning of high school kids seems to fall off.  As with growing and maturing kids go through physical changes and in junior high we can be awfully awkward looking.  The church, with the matured high school group and the junior highers tend to accept these kids because well they are all seemingly in this thing together.  The problem arises whereas these kids are being rejected in Jr. High seem to come into their own, if you will, by high school.  Or for those that don't are still for some reason so desperate for attention that they will do anything or try anything to be accepted.  And this is where the glorious temptation of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll come into play.  Personally, I have not found the problem to be so much the church rejecting or the church overkilling with law, but rather this funny thing we call temptation and sin comes knocking rather rapidly at the door of the youth.  Kids in Jr. high and High School brag about many things, and one of them being how they haven't been to church in years if the topic casually comes up.  Then the weekly goer looks ridiculous in front of his/her own peers.  Then there is the camp that we call Chreasters who go twice a year on...you guessed it, Christmas and Easter.  This concept of attending church every week is foreign and downright ridiculous to a lot of kids.  So sin is the problem here, no surprise.  But specifically, PARENTS of the kids who are lax on their children being brought up in a home with rich faith.  Soccer games on Sunday mornings become more important than Church and Sunday School.  And then baseball games as well, usually in the spring.  

How the heck do we fight such things?  Well when engaging youth/kids you have to come down to their level in some ways.  You have to respect them for who they are while maintaining who you are as well.  I would be lying if I said I haven't developed friendships with some of the youth, and that can be problematic for it has gotten me in some very minor situations, but the idea is to show the kids the same love and respect that you would want, that the church should give.  At my congregation we have had a great youth director for over 15 years who has been able to go through the tumultuous changes of youth and the church to keep stability, and what is that stability?  The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Never changing, ever fervent in love toward one another.  Youth Ministry, although needing to teach correct things, is not a Cathechism Class, or Confirmation, or even "Church" itself.  The one(s) in charge must stress the importance of being confirmed and going to church weekly to gain the Law and Gospel teaching alongside the Sacramental.  "Youth Group" gives kids something to do and to be a part of, with a twist.  Faith is involved.  I am forever indebted to my church and my youth group for what it did in shaping my life.  There are many times that I have failed in temptation (who doesn't?) but there are also many times I have found myself thinking of those I would congregate with in confirmation on thursday nights or specifically at Youth Group Sunday nights or on Wednesdays during the summer, and be led away from the temptation based on the fact I wouldn't want them engaging in the same activity, because as followers of Christ we are all above that.  What's the answer behind all this?  Show kids love, and teach correct things, if they are still not interested, there is only so much one can do.  It does help to entice the younger ones with overnight events, goofy games nights, and etc to catch them.  But it is always the Holy Spirit which does the reeling in.

Hope this makes some sense

M. Staneck
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St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

Dave Benke

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #22 on: November 28, 2007, 04:16:40 PM »
I like "a former teenager," Matt.  a) aren't we all?  Although I can't really remember back that far.  b) aren't we all?  If the mean emotional age of an American hovers between sixth grade - the age designated for TV comedy writing - or 14, the age psychologists indicate at which the majority of the population is stuck, then most of us are there.  Which is a reason we're not that fond of youth ministry.  Reminds the older folks of themselves, not back then, but now, only without the veneer.

Dave Benke

jrubyaz

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2007, 04:18:33 PM »
M,

Great post! Well said. Two quick follow-ups to what you said:

1. If parents were doing their jobs better, and the church (i.e. us pastors and all leaders) ours, kids would get that love and affirmation from home and church, and NOT check out. I don't believe we can use the excuse kids just get busy or tempted (not saying you said that exactly, I think those are both real things, but I don't accept them as only excuses), IF both of us were spending more time with kids, less entertaining of them or trying to play Disneyland Dad and Magic Mom, then a lot of this could be avoided. THe number ONE stat on kids not being involved in drugs is amount of time their parents spend with them. If you start young, no guarantees, but the time spent seems to deter looking for love in all the wrong places (cue music)

2. Your youth ministry/minister comment is KEY. I think we in the institutitional church treat our youth ministers like you know what. We pay them half time for full time work, and we expect they will work wonders on a shoestring budget, but by the way keep them contained to one room and don't let them get too wild except at a youth service once a year.

The key is to lift up and support our youth staff, pay them welll (if I had only one staff position I would hire them before a secretary and do the secretarial stuff volunteer), and make long term commitments. Our youth pastor here has been here 11 years because we have tried real hard to honor him and lift him up and do those things.

Jeff Ruby      



Well, being a recent former teenager myself and someone who works closely with teens in the church, I figured I would weigh in.

It has been my experience, and in talking with others whom I went through the church with, that the temptations of the world can and will weigh all too heavily upon the shoulders of the youth.  It is no secret that between the ages of 12-19 young people go through some dramatical changes.  One of those changes and one of those things that arise if the need to be loved and accepted.  Where the church rejects and fails to show such love and acceptance, the world steps in and however vainly, fills that gap in.  Sometimes the church does it accidentally.  As with teens, cliquey groups form and can unintentionally, as well as intentionally, hurt the feelings of "outsiders" or newcomers into the youth ministry or the church.  It usually seems that junior high kids are easier to reel in with goofy games nights or overnighters at some extravagant places, and in my congregation we have confirmation in 7th and 8th grade so the education and instruction is still something they are going through so they seem to stick around.  A big fall out point, although currently at home that trend seems to be changing, is around the beginning of high school kids seems to fall off.  As with growing and maturing kids go through physical changes and in junior high we can be awfully awkward looking.  The church, with the matured high school group and the junior highers tend to accept these kids because well they are all seemingly in this thing together.  The problem arises whereas these kids are being rejected in Jr. High seem to come into their own, if you will, by high school.  Or for those that don't are still for some reason so desperate for attention that they will do anything or try anything to be accepted.  And this is where the glorious temptation of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll come into play.  Personally, I have not found the problem to be so much the church rejecting or the church overkilling with law, but rather this funny thing we call temptation and sin comes knocking rather rapidly at the door of the youth.  Kids in Jr. high and High School brag about many things, and one of them being how they haven't been to church in years if the topic casually comes up.  Then the weekly goer looks ridiculous in front of his/her own peers.  Then there is the camp that we call Chreasters who go twice a year on...you guessed it, Christmas and Easter.  This concept of attending church every week is foreign and downright ridiculous to a lot of kids.  So sin is the problem here, no surprise.  But specifically, PARENTS of the kids who are lax on their children being brought up in a home with rich faith.  Soccer games on Sunday mornings become more important than Church and Sunday School.  And then baseball games as well, usually in the spring.  

How the heck do we fight such things?  Well when engaging youth/kids you have to come down to their level in some ways.  You have to respect them for who they are while maintaining who you are as well.  I would be lying if I said I haven't developed friendships with some of the youth, and that can be problematic for it has gotten me in some very minor situations, but the idea is to show the kids the same love and respect that you would want, that the church should give.  At my congregation we have had a great youth director for over 15 years who has been able to go through the tumultuous changes of youth and the church to keep stability, and what is that stability?  The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Never changing, ever fervent in love toward one another.  Youth Ministry, although needing to teach correct things, is not a Cathechism Class, or Confirmation, or even "Church" itself.  The one(s) in charge must stress the importance of being confirmed and going to church weekly to gain the Law and Gospel teaching alongside the Sacramental.  "Youth Group" gives kids something to do and to be a part of, with a twist.  Faith is involved.  I am forever indebted to my church and my youth group for what it did in shaping my life.  There are many times that I have failed in temptation (who doesn't?) but there are also many times I have found myself thinking of those I would congregate with in confirmation on thursday nights or specifically at Youth Group Sunday nights or on Wednesdays during the summer, and be led away from the temptation based on the fact I wouldn't want them engaging in the same activity, because as followers of Christ we are all above that.  What's the answer behind all this?  Show kids love, and teach correct things, if they are still not interested, there is only so much one can do.  It does help to entice the younger ones with overnight events, goofy games nights, and etc to catch them.  But it is always the Holy Spirit which does the reeling in.

Hope this makes some sense

M. Staneck

revjagow

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2007, 04:25:14 PM »
In compete agreement with Dave B. and M. Staneck here.  The "standoffishness" that is perceived is also sometimes due to a history of the kids or their parents who tried to do the church thing at one point, but got hurt in the process.  And the key is authenticity.  I've noticed that youth are fairly savvy and can sense something that fake a mile away.  But, of course, there is never just one reason for anything.  While I respect the research done by Barna (lots of other good articles on their website, BTW), each of us are going to see different things in our community.   

Taking a suggestion I grabbed from Chaplain Donald Muchow, I am forming some "reconnaissance teams" next year (and don't the military folk love that language ;)). The idea is just to do some "recon" in the community.  Go and visit the school nearby and ask the principal where we can "align our resources" to better serve the needs in the community.  Things like that.  Where this meets resistance is with some ministers and church leaders who feel that as long as they do Word and Sacrament ministry faithfully and well, that is all they are equipped to do and the job is done.  I disagree.  God gives us and our faithful laity, a variety of gifts and opens doors for us in the community.  If we do not use those gifts or ignore the doors, then that is not being a faithful steward of the mysteries.  The gifts received at Table are meant to go out into the world and bear fruit, which is an intentional act.

I can understand resistance to some protestant research project that could provide a lot of jet-fuel for the next, slick church marketing campaign.  I tend to have an allergy to these things too (which is recent, since I was all about being "Purpose Driven" a few years ago).  Let's say you are like me and you wear your collar most days, and you might even keep it on when you get your oil changed.  Amazing to me how many conversations (can I say... critical events?) are started, "excuse me father, can I ask you something?"  This Lent I am excited that we are bringing the tradition of ashes back to Ash Wednesday.  I am thinking of trying to inspire our youth to attend and bring people to the service.  It is a very visual, tactile action that needs to be explained.  Along those lines, one pastor on Long Island wrote a great Op-Ed piece titled something like "So, What's Up with Those Dirty Foreheads?" in his local paper.  These are all little, yet intentional, ways of connecting to unbaptized.  Each of us is going to do it and see it differently.  I think the point of the Barna article is to go out and intentionally connect because there is little to no chance that the average youth will wander into a church seeking answers to spiritual questions.  I will disagree with John D., who thinks that there is nothing new under the sun, because I think that this is a new trend from a few generations ago. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2007, 04:39:37 PM »
I like "a former teenager," Matt.  a) aren't we all?  Although I can't really remember back that far.  b) aren't we all?  If the mean emotional age of an American hovers between sixth grade - the age designated for TV comedy writing - or 14, the age psychologists indicate at which the majority of the population is stuck, then most of us are there.  Which is a reason we're not that fond of youth ministry.  Reminds the older folks of themselves, not back then, but now, only without the veneer.

Dave Benke

Get outta here, I figured all you older folk just showed up on the earth like that one day!

To clarify, I did use "recent" teenager haha.  But you're on to something there where you say most of the population is stuck. 
Matt Staneck, Pastor
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

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Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2007, 04:55:52 PM »


1. If parents were doing their jobs better, and the church (i.e. us pastors and all leaders) ours, kids would get that love and affirmation from home and church, and NOT check out. I don't believe we can use the excuse kids just get busy or tempted (not saying you said that exactly, I think those are both real things, but I don't accept them as only excuses), IF both of us were spending more time with kids, less entertaining of them or trying to play Disneyland Dad and Magic Mom, then a lot of this could be avoided. THe number ONE stat on kids not being involved in drugs is amount of time their parents spend with them. If you start young, no guarantees, but the time spent seems to deter looking for love in all the wrong places (cue music)

2. Your youth ministry/minister comment is KEY. I think we in the institutitional church treat our youth ministers like you know what. We pay them half time for full time work, and we expect they will work wonders on a shoestring budget, but by the way keep them contained to one room and don't let them get too wild except at a youth service once a year.

The key is to lift up and support our youth staff, pay them welll (if I had only one staff position I would hire them before a secretary and do the secretarial stuff volunteer), and make long term commitments. Our youth pastor here has been here 11 years because we have tried real hard to honor him and lift him up and do those things.

Jeff Ruby      


Jeff,

Certainly, temptation is a gigantic part of it.  Heck because of sin we're all so screwed up anyway.  But as far as identifying what's going on, I gotta agree with you.  Youth Ministry is an essential part to any church, even if a "healthy" one does not have many youth.  I put healthy in quotations because I believe a church needs youth to be healthy.  I know in my experience if not for the youth I can safely and definitively say my congregation would not be half of what it is.  Youth are heavily involved in our Sunday School program and are what basically holds our strong VBS program together.  And the youth also helps with setting up services for holidays or whatever else they are doing.  So wherever I am Pastor, God-willing, I will make sure youth ministry is a priority there.  The youth need to be reached.

revjagow,

Love the recon idea....the Synod or some aspect or whatever is actually involved in a missional aspect.  It ought to make the hard middle of the country folk in our beloved synod tremble, but it seems very interesting.  Unfortunately I am a dolt and do not have the link.  I'll get that here shortly.
Matt Staneck, Pastor
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

grabau14

  • Guest
Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #27 on: November 28, 2007, 06:07:38 PM »
This is not new in America.  We go through trends.  For example, we like to think of the Golden age of Christianity in America was the colonial period through Washington and his crew.  Well that is not so.  Roughly 10% of the population went to church.  And those who did lived in rural areas and the wealthy in cities who would go to church.

The church at that time was seen as a "political breading ground which focused on LAW instead of a healthy balance of L and G.  Rationalism had a adverse effect on the church which revivalism and fundemetalism attempted to fix.

The Church Growth took place during the trying times of WWII and after.  People went back to church.

For those who went to CTS, Larry Rast goes quite in depth on this topic in his Formative Influences on American Christianity.  Or as Dr. Weinrich used to say, there is no such thing as a new heresy, meaning there is never anything new.  Everything takes on a different face but the root causes are always the same.

I should point out that trends and cycles should not prevent pastors and parishes from doing what they can to reach out to the youth as well as old.  But we shouldn't think that this is new.   The world is ending because I am in agreement with John D.  :D


« Last Edit: November 28, 2007, 06:47:20 PM by Rev. Matthew J. Uttenreither »

Dave_Poedel

  • Guest
Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2007, 07:55:34 PM »
As the parent of nearly past teens and 2 teenage boys, I often ask them what the issues are and how can the Church reach those teens.  They all say the same thing: be real, be approachable, be who/what you are, don't try to be "cool" (Boomer word).

In our discussions (remember, these kids were in church from day one) our family has brought up that a HUGE block to getting kids involved is parents.  Parents ridicule faith, often in front of their kids.  I never thought that would be an issue.

In our small parish, with a small but very vital Youth Group, we also see frustrated parents bringing their teens to us to "straignten out".  I have learned to say no to these requests until and unless the parents worship with us regularly for many months and the family is acclimated to our congergation.  To introduce a teen to our group with that background is too disruptive to our youth, as they know the type of kid.  They are willing to receive those kids and show incredible love to them.  Our experience is that the parents decide that my requirement that they participate is too burdensome, they all leave.  We always invite the teen to stay, and very rarely they do. We have also had parents manipulate their teens with threatening to withhold Youth Group for whatever reason.

I should have prefaced this by saying that mine has been a very dysfunctional congregation for too many years.  We are very slowly working through some of the systemic issues, which have affected the youth too (when they were in elementary school and middle school).  When the current teens graduate from high shool in 2 years, we will have no youth, unless the Lord answers our fervent prayers.  The next cohort is now in 3-5th grade.

To paraphrase James Dobson "Youth ministry is not for wimps"

jrubyaz

  • Guest
Re: Teens and Faith
« Reply #29 on: November 28, 2007, 07:58:33 PM »
Matthew,

There is not doubt that you and I as pastors understand this is nothing new. One only has to pre-date even Christianity in this nation to see how it played out in the early church or one can even go back to Israel and the Golden Calf.

However, I do think Barna et . al is valuable, because while the issue of the unchurched is always the same, the  issues for the unchurched may vary. For example, the issue of technology has been mentioned, faster pace of culture, breakdown of family issues, etc.

I think it is real important not to dismiss the study of why folks aren't going to church, or why there have been shifts positive or negative, with a simple shrug and "it is nothing new under the sun". Would someone in business or education say that if they were losing business or students? No, they would study why they are losing customers or students, and seek to understand the issues involved, so they can be addressed.

I once had a top businessperson for Cisco tell me he could never understand why the ELCA and other denominations who are losing membership are not going and talking to people asking them why they left. Good question.

Jeff Ruby  

This is not new in America.  We go through trends.  For example, we like to think of the Golden age of Christianity in America was the colonial period through Washington and his crew.  Well that is not so.  Roughly 10% of the population went to church.  And those who did lived in rural areas and the wealthy in cities who would go to church.

The church at that time was seen as a "political breading ground which focused on LAW instead of a healthy balance of L and G.  Rationalism had a adverse effect on the church which revivalism and fundemetalism attempted to fix.

The Church Growth took place during the trying times of WWII and after.  People went back to church.

For those who went to CTS, Larry Rast goes quite in depth on this topic in his Formative Influences on American Christianity.  Or as Dr. Weinrich used to say, there is no such thing as a new heresy, meaning there is never anything new.  Everything takes on a different face but the root causes are always the same.

I should point out that trends and cycles should not prevent pastors and parishes from doing what they can to reach out to the youth as well as old.  But we shouldn't think that this is new.   The world is ending because I am in agreement with John D.  :D