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My Burning Question

 —  August 15, 2012 — 7 Comments

I have just returning from spending the past 3 weeks in Uganda leading a missions trip with our High School students. It was a powerful time, and despite being around teenagers 24/7 I still managed to find time to rest, pray, and think. As I sit at my desk and long for the rolling hills of Mpigi Uganda and the adorable children that live at our property there, I have one question that I can not seem to shake, and its one that has impact on many of us. So first let me give you some background.

Over the past few years I have had the great honour of meeting youth workers from all over the world, I love hearing their stories, hearing about what God is doing in the youth group and hearing their heart for ministry. After hearing about that leaders youth ministry, I often ask them to tell me about their church and the tone sometimes changes. This is where my question comes from: when I meet a youth worker who is leading an effective ministry that connects with and draws students into the Church, where they encounter the living God and begin a relationship with him. But what happens if you are in a Church whose services are targeted at a much older demographic and try as they might, students struggle to connect with God on Sunday morning.I have a friend who has a youth group of 90 students in a church of 300 people, but can seem to get students to make any sort of lasting connection in the Church.

So my question is simply this:

Is it irresponsible or unwise to pour into a youth ministry in a Church whose Sunday gather is targeted at the age 50+ demographic?

Would knowing this be a deal breaker for you if you were applying for a position?

-Geoff

 

Geoff Stewart

Posts

7 responses to My Burning Question

  1. Yes. I’m a youth pastor (8 years in one spot) in a church that is targeted at 50+ demographic and it hurts when students turn away from Christ because of the church’s target audience.
    Youth Pastors/Leaders can’t become the only people to target youth. In order for a church to raise disciples, it must create an environment for children, youth, and adults to Worship. This can be a deal breaker, depending on how flexible the leadership is on having a larger or different target.
    Having visited your church, I’d strongly consider serving there because I wouldn’t feel embarrassed inviting my friends or youth to attend on Sunday morning.
    Another interesting question is: Biblically and culturally are worship services on Sunday, aka “church” for Christians or non-Christians or both?

  2. To answer the question I say no. I think the desire to pour into kids lives come from a calling but just like spreading the news of the gospel sometimes that means we need to cultivate the soil so that the message can be heard and then implemented in a life. Sometimes we need to help the church understand how to serve youth and help cultivate the soil of the faith community so that the outreach of the church can expand (even if your not there to see it)

  3. We have separate teen services on Sunday morning that run at the same time as the two main adult services and it’s the transition from high school to the main service where we find the problem. It’s nearly impossible to gear a service toward both a 19 year old and an 80 year old. We’re considering adding a high school grad age through 20-somethings service. I know many people today are talking about how important it is not to separate age groups all the time(and I agree with that) but I think we can do that in other ways. We do monthly projects and they always span the age gaps. Many of our Life Groups are not age specific either, so I feel like we accomplish the togetherness there too. But to answer the question, in my opinion, it’s never irresponsible or unwise to pour into youth ministry anywhere. As long as you’re showing Jesus to teens it will always be worth it.

  4. My church runs 80-100 on Sunday mornings, with a service that is definitely more geared toward an older crown. Our Wednesday night youth meeting runs 30-40 during the school year. However most older adults have trouble believing it because the students don’t come Sunday morning. Many have tried and are turned off by it. My goal is to reach them when I’ve got them, to share Jesus with them and cover them with the Word when I have the opportunity.

  5. We are trying to figure things out in our context right now. We have a Senior(age) lead pastor(role) who definitely preaches to the older crowd. We are also a generational church. The generations are my students, their parents and their grandparents. With very few people outside of those demographics, almost no one from 19-30 and 40-50.

    We have a great youth group with students who are starting to go deep, especially in the last year. We are a midsized, but struggle to make it a place for youth to feel comfortable in.

    I won’t let it affect my ministry, except it encourages me to want to find a solution to the problem.

    I don’t think pouring in anywhere is irresponsible, I think it is irresponsible to not find out what you are getting yourself into though. Once you know you just have to adapt.

    great question and thoughts though Geoff!

  6. Demographic tension is one of those great problems in which the Holy Spirit takes great delight since it gives us the opportunity to examine the much larger issue of the nature of Church and its relationship to The Church. It’s also a consistent phase in the life cycle of any congregation that endures more than 20 years or so. My sense is that most congregations deal with the demographic question, sometimes successfully, sometimes not and miss the excitement that asking the harder questions would engender, questions such as:

    1. What’s the purpose of a Sunday service? Who or what is being served?
    2. For how many Sunday services around the world is the agenda determined by cultural, rather than spiritual parameters?
    3. Does the Holy Spirit bore today’s youth? If not, why would youth (and a lot of the general population) find Sunday services boring?
    4. What does the presence of intergenerational tensions tell members of each demographic group about their spirituality and the extent to which they individually are being conformed into the image of Christ?
    5. Who decides what “Christ-likeness” looks like anyway?
    6. To what extent do Sunday services enable Christians rather than empower Christians?
    7. How can we, assuming we should or could, determine whether or not church leaders have put into place structures and systems (for example, Sunday Service) that are effective in equipping the saints for the work of the ministry?

    I think generational tensions partly exist to raise questions such as the one you asked, Geoff. To want truth is to want Jesus, which means to be always on the way, or perhaps better, in The Way. I think that when we quit asking the big questions is when we are truly lost. Is it responsible or wise to pour into a youth ministry in a church with an aging demographic? Was it responsible or wise of the owner of the vineyard to send his own son to collect the back rent from his tenants? I don’t think conventional economics work in a lot of the Kingdom of God. Who and what is God calling us to? Success, after all, is no guarantee of success, in the Kingdom.

    Great question, man.

  7. The EZ Money Method is part of a very simple and easy 1,2,3 step program that involves EZMM, GVO, and Empower Network. Quick money and residual all at the same time.

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