ENG123S: Intermediate Composition
September 27, 2013
The church today is facing a major crisis. A recent study found that 59% of young people who had previously had some exposure to church are leaving the church in their twenties1. There are many factors that have contributed to this exodus of youth from the church. These causes include, but are not limited to, parents outsourcing their responsibilities to the church and the youth not being integrated into the main church body. Many churches are organized in such a way, and place such a large emphasis on youth ministry and age segregation, that it is easy for these problems to creep in and create issues in the church and the family. It is unhealthy and unsustainable. The church needs to approach youth and family ministry differently by emphasizing Christian discipleship in the home and integrating the youth into the church body.
Take a look at a typical family that is highly involved in their church, every Sunday each member of the family goes to their respective ministry. Children get checked into the Children’s Ministry where they are taught an age appropriate lesson, youth go to Youth ministry and get their own lesson, and the parents go to the main service. This is then repeated at the midweek service. Then the family is split up even more if the parents are involved in the men’s and women’s ministries and the children go to any weekly youth events. That is at least three times, or roughly five hours per week the family is split apart. Now consider work, education, sports, and extra curricular activities in which many families are involved. How much time is left for a family just to be together? Is a family going to grow stronger by being separated all the time? Is the church encouraging, in practice, the strong family values that are being taught from the pulpit? By segregating each member in the family, the church is sending mixed signals to parents and children, and the youth are the ones that are suffering for it while many parents are blind to the real problem.
An unintended consequence of youth ministry today is that it has allowed parents to give up their God-given role and responsibility as the primary spiritual leaders of their children. The vast majority of churches in America have some kind of age-segregated youth ministry where students go to worship, separate from their parents and other adults. By sending their children to the youth program the parents trust the youth leader(s) to adequately disciple and teach their children. But too many parents and fathers, in particular, have given nearly all responsibility of spiritual discipleship to the youth ministry. Scott Brown puts it this way, “Youth ministers have usurped the roles of fathers, and fathers have gladly relegated their duty to youth ministers without a fight or affliction of conscience.”2 This is a glaring departure from the Biblical roles of men to train their children.
The Bible is not silent about the responsibility that is on the parent to train and teach their children. Concerning commands of God, parents are to “…teach them diligently to [their] children, and shall talk of them when [they] sit in your house, and when [they] walk by the way, and when [they] lie down, and when [they] rise.”3 Talking about the Bible is a responsibility of the parent, which will have a positive effect on the life of the child.4 Parents can have a major influence on the lives of their children that cannot be understated. Their impact reaches much farther then just the years their children spend at home; it can affect the rest of the children’s lives.5 Sadly, many parents today are not taking up the responsibility of the spiritual discipleship of their children; they are passing it off to the church.
One solution to solving the current youth exodus from the church is to place a greater emphasis on the responsibility of