Growing up in the faith, my mom always ensured that I was apart of the children’s ministry in my family churches. Whether that be by me attending Sunday school, going to Awana weekly, or participating in VBS (Vacation Bible School) every summer. While I am thankful that my parents made sure that I was involved with church at such a young age, I am able to reflect as an adult on the flaws of youth ministry that I experienced at different churches in the BIble belt.
I always reflect on my teenage years and why I lost my faith – because I never really had any genuine faith to begin with. I remember having so much fun in Sunday school and meeting new friends and coloring, memorizing the weekly verse during Awana, and singing songs in VBS. However, I couldn’t recall the basic biblical truths of Christianity. At age 12 I was supporting the LGBT agenda, I believed all Christians were like The Westboro Baptist Church, and was overall painfully ignorant. This continued on until I was 16. I went back to church because I felt lost. I went and made a bunch of new friends, volunteered, and had a blast with my youth group. It wasn’t until sometime later I had so much confusion and hatred filled in me that I left abruptly. I was too busy having so much fun that I failed to realize that we were suppose to be worshipping God – a God I did not know and was not being taught.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22:6
I was listening to Pastor Dale Partridge’s Podcast Real Christianity with the episode titled “Is Youth Ministry Biblical?” Every single point he made resonated with me and my experience with Children and Youth Ministry throughout my adolence.
The devil is playing for our children’s hearts and western churches are not equipped enough.
Western churches care more about making sure they are a hangout spot rather than equipping children and teenagers with biblical truth and the armor of God to withstand in the world.
There are two things we can place the blame on (the children aren’t one of them!):
- Christian Parents
- Contemporary Churches
How do you expect teenagers to be ready for the world we currently live in when they do not genuinely know the God who created everything? How do you expect them to learn God’s truth from churches who do not teach God’s truth but instead conform to the world? Why do you think your church has a coffee shop inside and a concert every Sunday?
Christian parents continue to fall prey to outsourcing – whether it’s from the church, public school system, or nannies. We are called to do differently.
A great question to ask is why do Christian parents think that the trendy youth pastor or teenagers volunteering at Sunday School can teach your children the word of God better than you can?
Parents, specifically fathers, are commanded by God to be the head of house. This means they should be the biblical leader of the household. Parents should not feel as if they aren’t “smart” enough to teach God’s word to their children. God as ordered parents to instruct and guide their children with God’s word which means that they are more than able. It is a lie sold to you by modern churches that you need to send your children off to Sunday school, youth group, and other ministry activities aimed at kids so they can have “fun kid time” and parents can separate from them and go have “boring church time” – what perspective does this show children? Not a positive one.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”Ephesians 6:4
Not only are Children and Youth Ministry a modern phenomena, but modern Sunday School goes at odds with it’s origin. Created originally during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britian to help orphan children forced to do child labor learn about the Gospel, how to read, and understand biblical instruction. Now it is used as “free time” for parents and “color time” for children. Our world is not the same world our parents grew up in, much like our parent’s world was not the same world our grandparents grew up in – coloring Noah’s Arch on Sunday is simply not going to cut it folks. The education that churches are providing is not sufficient enough for the demonic forces in our modern world.
A study done in the book, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions For The Church, concluded that 90% of youth active in high school church programs drop out of church by the time they are sophomores on college. The study was conducted in 2009 – imagine the results in 2020. Another study done in the published 2007 book, reThink: Decide for Yourself: Is Student Ministry Working?, found that 63% of teenagers attending youth ministry don’t believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths. 51% don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. 65% don’t believe Satan is a real entity. 68% don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity.
The statistics from the late 2000’s are frightening and I cannot even imagine what they look like now in our modern day moral-less, atheist, and crumbling society. Western society without the foundation of God looks like what we’re seeing every single day not on the news but right in front of our eyes.
The time parents spend on driving their children to and from sports practice, their SAT prep classes, and ensuring their kid’s have the latest technology is time that could be spent on learning what the Gospel truly is. The time churches spend in meetings trying to find ways to appeal to the world, pander to enemies of God, and make sure youth ministry is “fun” is time that could be spent on equipping themselves with the armor of God and preaching to families as a whole God’s truth.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”Ephesians 6:10-18
I grew up in a predominately Muslim populated school. Numerous Muslim classmate I had were doing 10+ hours of Quran learning and memorization outside of the Mosque. They didn’t love it, but they didn’t hate it. This is because they understood and genuinely loved their faith. Their parents paid for the classes because they believed in their faith wholeheartedly and wanted to ensure their children were armed with knowledge. Christian parents in western society should be shaking.
If you’re a Christian parent who is reading this and afraid for your children – you should be. The devil is alive and real. However, God is more powerful and as parents you must study His word to make sure you are discipling in the way He has called you to. If you’re a mother and feel like your husband is lacking in biblical discipleship do not hesitate to spark up a conversation with him! Make sure you are not attacking, but bringing up this concern. Your husband might not even be aware as many unfortunately aren’t! There are thankfully so many online resources to help you and your husband find a way to truly begin discipling your children at home. Take all worries, fears, and yearn for biblical knowledge to the Lord in prayer and He WILL provide!