Games and Commitment: Thoughts on Youth Ministry

Posted: May 27, 2021 in Uncategorized

One of the things I am really passionate about is youth ministry. I started off in ministry as a youth leader and Sunday school teacher and I feel very strongly about making sure the church sows into the next generation. I’m a senior pastor now, but I still do a fair amount of youth speaking and writing and I have many friends who are still actively in the trenches of youth ministry. As such, one of the things I do is participate in a few online youth ministry groups. One of the things that seems to come up a lot is people looking for ideas on games. I don’t have a problem with that, but lately I have been noticing that there is a lot of false teaching being supported in churches especially surrounding youth ministry and many people trying to bend the teachings of Scripture to the culture. This breaks my heart. The church should be the one place where kids can go to get truth. I’ve started to get concerned that we are becoming too “game centric” while neglecting important teaching, so one today I posed a question.

If tomorrow Jesus said “No more games,” how would you run your ministry?

Now to the groups credit, these people saw the question for what it was, and kept it very positive. It did my heart good to see all the thoughtful responses. There were a few who took issue with the idea of Jesus saying no more games as if I had this picture that Jesus is against fun. This was not my intent. I originally intended to say the pastor said it, but then I thought we might get better answers if we appealed to the highest authority right off the bat. The vast majority said games were something they did rarely or something they did for a specific application, which blessed me. I’m not anti-game, I just know how precious little time we get with our youth in the church and I long to see that time used as best as we can.

Here’s what’s been hitting me lately. Jesus was kind of a youth pastor. Many scholars believe that most of the 12 were teen to young adult. If this is the case, Jesus worked through 12 very young men to change the world. Are we going too light on our young people. Should we be taking them deeper and helping them to realize that God is calling them to something more than “fun and games.” How should we best use this time that we have been given? How can creative ministry help this process along? How can we help your young people to realize that they are not the church of the future, that they are both the church right now and the future of the church? How can we help them to find and use their gifts to the glory of God?

I find myself at a real disadvantage here. I was not involved in youth ministry as a youth because I was outside the church, so maybe I just don’t get the culture. I been to some camps that take student deep. Yes they have fun but they also demonstrate a real living faith and take the students deeper. This excites me tremendously. Then I go to other places and I get frustrated. We have people close in age to those first disciples singing the Superman grace (see below in case you missed this) before meals. Really? Is this how we want the next generation to approach the Father?

There’s got to be more than this, doesn’t there? We have this golden opportunity to help people make a real difference in the world. We have the chance to build into them and help them to become powerful, passionate disciples. How can we do better?

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