Written by Pastor Chad “Kicker” Kositzky
Do you remember the show Dragnet? There was of course, the required mystery. And each show would end with a tidy bow – the criminal being caught and the police being praised. In the middle of the story was the famous phrase, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” While the show made fine entertainment, the phrase has lived in pop culture ever since. Unfortunately, most people don’t want the facts. Today, most people want happy thoughts, popular opinions, and pats on the back. But when talking about our families we need to hear the truth. We need the facts if we are going to figure out what to do.
The Lord has given parents the primary responsibility for bringing up their children in the discipline and instruction of Lord. The Heritage Student Ministry does not, in any way, want to replace your God given responsibility and authority. In fact, we will continuously challenge students to understand the importance of honoring their father and mother in the Lord. We desire to link arms with parents, to come alongside parents and echo, Lord willing, what is being taught at home. We do believe, and have seen time and time again, God use leaders and the community of believers in the local church to greatly impact students for the kingdom. Surrounding teenagers with godly influences is as important now as it has ever been.
Never before in America have teenagers been at such a crucial life juncture. They must choose between a lifestyle of hedonism or responsibility. Since the 1960’s students have increasingly chosen the path of irresponsibility. In response, adults and society at large appears to continue to lower expectations for those 13-19 years of age. Sadly, I’m afraid the church has all too often lowered the bar and, at times, even watered down the Gospel message and call of Christ to make it more palatable to teenagers.Sadly, I’m afraid the church has all too often lowered the bar and, at times, even watered down the Gospel message and call of Christ to make it more palatable to teenagers.
A closer look at the nature of Student Ministry in general led us to some startling conclusions. George Barna asserts, “We discovered fairly strong correlations between understanding how to use the Bible for life decision-making with becoming a born-again Christian during the younger years, having an active spiritual life as characterized by consistent prayer, Bible reading and church attendance, and possessing a biblical worldview.” Barna added,
“Unfortunately, less than one out of every ten churched teenagers has a biblical worldview. In other words, the result of their involvement at a church is that they can recite some religious facts, they made some friends, and they had fun. That’s wonderful, but we also find that most of them have neither accepted Christ as their Savior nor altered the basis on which they make their moral and ethical decisions in life. For most teenagers who have spent years attending church activities their faith is not integrated into who they are and how they live. Most of the young people who claim they developed an understanding of the Bible that enables them to make decisions based on biblical principles show no evidence of using that understanding in relation to the core beliefs and lifestyle choices that we studied.“
In light of this information we have to step back and evaluate the common practices of most American youth groups. The typical church youth group places great emphasis on getting young people to come to activities. In order to get them to come to activities, excitement and fun become the main drawing points. The idea is, “if we can just get them to come, then we can interest them in the things of the Lord”. While this is common practice and appears pragmatic, reality is much different. This philosophy fails to produce lasting results and most importantly, it’s unbiblical.
So those are the facts. We don’t have to like them, but we will have to deal with them. The structure and strategy of any ministry to teens needs to take these facts into consideration. Part two looks to how we address these issues and why it matters.