VBS have me hope for tomorrow
Ephesians 4:11 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Last week my daughter went to Calvary Chapel Visalia in Central California to do their “Weird Animals” VBS program, I will give my thoughts on that below. If you don’t know what VBS is, it means Vacation Bible School, usually it is at least a few days and sometimes as long as a week. There is normally a theme and the kids usually help out, but this one was great because it helped me confirm my philosophy on youth ministry.
A lot is said on Christian blogs and websites about how the “sky is falling” in youth ministry, where the young kids are in a “hook up club” or a “dating area” that is supervised by the church. Well whilst that may be true in some scenarios, it does not have to be that way.
I went to a youth group, we called it a “youth fellowship” and we met once a week, made contacts with other Christians but I was in one that, well to be honest, was not making me question fundamental basics about who I was and where I was going on a day by day relationship with Jesus.
Here is my deal on the whole “youth debate” My vision is that churches should have a youth program, there is few simple reasons why:
1) Not everyone comes from that perfect Christian home – I did not and I had no idea how to study the Bible, as an adolescent and then eventually a young adult, I had no idea how to read, study or question the truths I learned on a Sunday evening, I ended up with a weak faith and as soon as I removed myself from my church support system, I was toast and rolled out into the world and ended up a well worse sinner than I would have been without knowing the truth. It was only by God’s grace I came back.
Ideally, everyone would be in that home where they would be discipled by the Godly father and have their needs met that way, but I think we need to remove our “Christian nation, all is right with the world” spectacles and realize that this is the exception and not the rule. So we need the churches to have input. MOST IMPORTANTLY – We must make sure they are even saved in the first place!
How do we fix that? Well a “one size fits all” approach does not work, we have to have a program to get these kids in the door, the churches (note more than one) that I have had that don’t have that don’t keep kids very long, even the ones hungry to learn. Elder men, youth leaders or whomever, need to fill the void the parents have left and be the “spiritual parents” this is the best strategy, but we have to invoke their interest in the first place and teach then the basics first.
2) We are failing the church of today – Not the church of tomorrow, the church of today. At the age of 36, I am yesterday’s news, I fall into the idea that I should be helping equip the young guys to get their peers in the door. The church that only has older people in it is a dying church. Eventually the congregation will be posthumous, and so will all the people who knew how to do stuff.
At the VBS, we had trained young people guiding the kids, giving invaluable ministry experience and allow callings to be revealed to our young people. It also establishes trust between the leadership of the church on the maturity of the young believer and allows dialogue for the young believer to further plug in and reveal other talents that they may have, you may have the next Chris Tomlin or Billy Graham in your church and you don’t even know.
3) We are failing to train up the next teachers of the church – Don’t get me wrong, they won’t all be teachers and my time is passed in order for me to ever be a pastor, so I should be training up the next generation of pastors and begin with basic apologetics and then go onto sharing your faith, then get them to study well and then if they are willing and able get them to teach a study.
Here is the tragic truth, I taught my first bible study at the age of 27/28, the youth of today must be discipled unto being able to lead a bible study, especially the young men, we are not just making our next leaders, and we are making the next head of the homes. If we teach them in youth group how to drink Pepsi and scarf as much pizza as they can in their tiny bodies with great metabolisms or play baseball/basketball or flag football all the time, what eternal value is that?
4) The circle will stop – You think this generation that we have passed on will be bad, wait until the rot seeps in! If we don’t teach these guys well, what makes you believe they will teach who comes after them well (Assuming the LORD does not return of course?)
I missed out on a huge opportunity, my time has passed, but I wish to help the coming generation get a better deal than I did. The churches that have good programs (not just in numbers, but in lives actually changed for Jesus Christ) will make tomorrow’s leaders and send out the evangelists of today and beyond. We need to get our young people in the service of the LORD, on short term missions trips and out there on mission as soon as they are able. Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him not to be “despised because of his youth” and was encouraged to show that despite his years he was mature enough for service, the least we can do is allow our kids to do likewise.
5) I believe that children are our future – Like it or not, they will lead when we don’t! They will have our service as an example on what to either do or what not to do! (We will either serve as a good or bad example) If you chose to just go with the “tried and tested people” that were dynamic 20/30 years ago, your church will stagnate and become dead, will die a slow death and you will wonder what went wrong.
Churches have an abundance of diversity walking through their doors, (I hope that is the case in your church) we should have the same diversity helping shape the way the church progresses. Young people will have input on what the youngsters will see as appealing, we have to appeal to all in order to effectively witness the gospel to a generation that has all manner of substances available to them. (As I did)
6) Youth leaders can’t do it all – It requires “buy in” from all of the church who are genuinely interested in reaching the WHOLE community, the youth leader would assign discipleship opportunities, but he cannot effectively give 20 kids all discipleship that they might need to become todays leaders, he needs buy in from the “spiritual parents” in the church who have a desire to impact these kids’ lives.
I wish I would have had that, but I am not lamenting on the vision that I have now. Having seen what I have seen in my life gives me the urgency to ensure that it does not happen to anyone else if I can help it. I know the signs of someone fading out of church and can identify them quicker than say a guy who has had the perfect Christian life and was always destined to be a pastor; he won’t get why kids are in substance abuse or why those hurdles are just too high to get over in a single bound.
Getting back to the VBS
Anyway, the bulk of the helpers in the VBS were young adults and teenagers who were happy to give up a week of service in order to reach out to the community, many of whom did not attend that church. They were growing in God before my eyes and my prayer is that kindled a fire that the youth leadership and the leadership of the church can set into a fire and get good needs based discipleship going with that student. (Remember, it is not a one size fits all strategy)
Things like this make me excited for the future of the church, let’s make it the rule as opposed to the exception.
My heart for youth
I have a real heart for youth ever since my old (not in age but longevity away from him) Pastor who was the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Glasgow at the time asked my wife and I to go “back home” and head up the youth ministry in a missions plant church in 2010, regrettably it was a good plan but not a God plan and we never went, ever since I have been hankering for an opportunity to be involved in youth and young adult work and regrettably the church I had attended since 2007 does not do youth work I have been in limbo seeking the LORD and what vision he had for me as far as youth work goes.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing, please share, comment and like as the LORD leads