Erring on the Side of Challenge

Originally published in 2005.

My local newspaper ran an AP story about the use of dodgeball in churches. To quote the author, “Christian youth leaders in (city deleted) consider dodgeball more than just a game.  For them, it’s also a way to bring together teens from different denominations--and most importantly--bring Jesus Christ to young people who are seldom in church.”  The article was titled “Dodgeball--The Latest Trend in Church Outreach.”  Are you kidding me?  What about dodgeball says Jesus Christ?

One youth pastor who was interviewed said, “It’s a good recruiting tool.  It’s easier to get them to something like that than Bible studies.”  Another youth pastor said, “You have to be creative and do things that intrigue them.”  Another youth pastor said, “Me, personally, when kids are new, I don’t want to hit them up right over the head talking about God.”

Teaching a Biblical Worldview

Originally published in February 2005.

From a Christian internet bulletin board discussing the band, Good Charlotte (grammar errors included): “Hi everyone.  Im new.  I would just like to tell you a bit about myself and Good Charlotte.  I’m a Christian.  I came to know God, when I was very young.  I have gone to church my whole life.  Camps, everything.  I have a very loving Christian family. 

“I know that although people may be Christians, they do sin, along with everyone else.  I don’t steal or swear, or smoke or do any drugs.  I pray, and I sin.  Good Charlotte are Christians.  They do the same things we all do!  They sin too!

Teaching a "To" Faith

Originally published January 2005.

You are probably all too familiar with this scenario.  You are catching up with one of your teens who's been missing youth group lately and who you've also heard things about.  You decided to order a "just-checking-in" pizza with this student.  In the discussion over that pizza he/she simply tells you that, "I'm going to have fun now and come back to God when I'm older."  Decision made.  You say some desperate encouraging words back but then you watch this teen leave and you are filled with dread for him/her.  You know all you can do is pray, particularly for protection for the upcoming years.  

These stories hurt.  These stories are why youth ministry can be so hard.