A few days ago Sarah Mae wrote a blog post on why her family was choosing to opt out of Youth Ministry. Her article is here if you would like to read it.
I applaud Sarah Mae and her family for choosing to guide, direct and teach their children the Lord's teachings. I have no problem with a family choosing to take control over their children's spiritual discipline. It is commanded in the Bible that we do so…to raise up our children to know His commandments and to write them on the doorposts of our houses and gates (Deut 6:6-9 ESV). It is our responsibility as parents to instruct our children.
With all of that being said, I had a problem with her statement that there was no biblical basis for Youth Ministry. While she is very correct, you will not find "youth ministry" in your bible…I don't feel that it is correct to state that it serves no purpose in the church body just because it isn't specifically laid out. Are those who choose to opt out of Youth Ministry because it isn't biblical stating that we, those who currently serve the youth (ages 4-18 and even beyond) out of God's will?
I don't believe so. At least I hope not.
What Sarah Mae and many others are arguing is in regards to methodology. Not Theology. She is choosing a method of ministry for her own family and choosing to not go through the route of youth ministry.
I am here to defend youth ministry. While youth ministry is not specifically laid out in the bible, we do have a basis for ministry. Each of us have been given spiritual gifts and graces in order to perform the work of the Lord and to minister to the body of Christ and equip the saints for the work of ministry.(Ephesians 4:11-12 HCSB). I have to ask…..are the children not a part of the body? While I one hundred percent believe that parents should be the main influences in the lives of children spiritually, is it so, for lack of a better word, wrong for another individual who has a heart for children to minister to them?
I have to say that the last year while working alongside my husband in the Young Adult Ministry, we have both encountered students of all ages who long for guidance and conversation regarding God. I get Facebook emails often from a couple of high school students seeking prayer. I love praying for them! And I want to be there for them now, not when they are about to graduate high school!
At Illuminate, Dan and I have been brought to tears by the people that we have met. They have shared their most personal, and sometimes horrific, stories of their lives both past and present. Young men and women who have encountered drugs and alcohol, sexual abuse, struggles with their sexuality.
When I watch my husband, a strong man who rarely sheds tears, cries over a text message from a young man thanking him for being an ear he could talk to….you can't convince me that what is happening is against God's will. That youth ministry, whether to elementary or college students, has no place and is not a good idea.
You can't convince me of that.
Perhaps some churches don't need a children's ministry because every single parent in that congregation has taken the reigns in the raising up of their children. But in a lot of churches, as much as it kills me, it isn't the case. Do I think youth ministry needs to be revamped to meet today's needs? Absolutely! How to do that I am not sure…it will take both the church leaders and the parents to have an honest conversation of what that looks like and how both parties can minister to the children.
In closing, let me reiterate that I want nothing more than to see more families who participate and teach their children about the Lord. I love seeing children in main services worshiping alongside their parents. But not every child has Christian parents. And while being the hands and feet of Christ in our communities and ministering to children in our own homes is necessary and we all should be doing it, it is not always going to be that "simple".