|Synopsis: Don't let the language deceive you into thinking that articles and ads offer anything of value in terms of how to do real youth ministry. It may be the best the world has to offer, but it pales in comparison to the hope that Jesus offers. Take Jesus to your young people -- and nothing less.|
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If you're like me, you get a lot of youth ministry mail across your desk or at your home. Lots of it you throw away, and lots of it you look at. Some of it you requested. Most of it you did not. Perhaps you even received one particular publication that I did.
As I sat down this morning to go through my mail, I found a 55-page color newspaper entitled, Youth Today - The Newspaper on Youth Work. My first thought was, "Hey, a new resource! This looks really interesting." I began thumbing through the contents and devouring a few of the articles, expecting to find some help for my youth ministry. The newspaper is very well organized and has a great layout. I saw a full-page ad for a popular Christian ministry. I saw ads for national seminars on changing the world and reclaiming our youth.
It didn't take long, however, to notice that this paper had no affiliation with Christian ministry. Now, before I take one more step let me assure you that I am not questioning this publication's right to exist or express its views freely. I am not advocating that the paper stop its publications or change it's contents. I'm not going on a witch hunt. I'm not even saying that you shouldn't have a subscription to the paper and read it. I am, however, seeking to make youth pastors and youth workers like you aware of what this paper is about and let you decide what to do with it if it comes across your desk.
The primary purpose of Youth Today, as I could determine from this particular issue, is to help teenagers -- especially at-risk teenagers -- deal with difficult struggles and issues in our culture. They want to cut kid crime, train teen parents, fight teen drug use, fight child labor, improve the moral compass of our youth culture, stomp out racism, help you with your fundraisers, assist high-school drop-outs, and prevent youth violence. They want to reach out to gays & lesbians, gang members, pregnant teens, parents of teens, juvenile offenders, and youth leaders. Their message is positive and full of hope.
If we left it at that, you and I both would be hard-pressed to argue that such a publication is not a valuable tool in the hands of Christian youth leaders. I, too, want to address all of the above issues and reach out to the same groups of people.
However, Youth Today is based on humanism -- that is, they believe that the methods and solutions to all of the above issues rests on human understanding and human efforts, apart from the active work of Jesus in the world today. They promote homosexuality as a positive lifestyle choice that should be affirmed by youth workers. They consider education to be the primary catalyst for hope and change. They believe in promoting spirituality -- but not Jesus.
We, as a Christian youth leaders, are responsible for not only being aware of such philosophies and practices, but to abandon them totally in favor of God's way of reaching out to young people. Jesus did not come to educate us and to be a catalyst for social change. He came to transform hearts and minds from the inside out by offering Himself. Nothing short of that can change the individual or society as a whole.
I want to challenge Christian youth leaders around this nation and the world to hold on to the one true message -- that Jesus is the only hope for youth and that He is the solution to all of the issues and problems that we face in youth ministry. Don't let the language of this publication deceive you into thinking that its articles and ads offer anything of value in terms of how to do real youth ministry. It may be the best the world has to offer, but it pales in comparison to the hope that Jesus offers. Take Jesus to your young people -- and nothing less.
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