Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How Should The Church Respond To The Exodus Of Our Youth (Pt. 8)


A friend of mine visited a church the other day and heard a sermon that was 12 minutes in length! I am told that this is fairly common in churches these days. We are constantly reminded by psychologists and other experts that people cannot sit still and listen for more then 20 minutes in our culture. Nowhere is this drum beat on more than in the area of youth ministry. Well, there are some people who aren't listening to the short attention span theory. video game makers are not listening, Hollywood is not listening, cell phone companies are not listening, professional sports organizations are not listening, coaches are not listening. But for some odd reason churches are listening. Churches are listening despite the fact that Christianity has a long tradition of long winded teachers. Moses taught the entire law to the Children of Israel on the plains of Moab! (The book of Deuteronomy) The prophets preached extended messages of repentance to wayward Israel. Ezra taught the law again to the returned exiles in Jerusalem for half a day while they stood and listened! Jesus taught the sermon on the mount and other extended discourses to multitudes of people when he was on earth. (Matthew 5-7; John 6) The book of Hebrews is one sermon! The epistles of the New Testament where read and discussed by churches in one sitting. This brings us to our 6th biblical principle that every discipleship oriented Christian ministry should follow.

6. Making disciples and instructing believers involves intensive teaching over long periods of time.

Acts 20:18-21 And when they had come to him, he said to them, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.NASB95

When Paul was in Ephesus he took every opportunity he could to teach the whole counsel of God to the believers whether in public with a large group or in houses with small groups. He didn't hold back anything that was profitable. The central feature of his teaching was repentance and faith in Christ.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.NASB95

This text clearly tells us that the word of Christ should be so central to our lives that we constantly think about it, teach it to each other, and sing it to each other!

1 Thessalonians 2:9-12 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.NASB95

This text implies that there was a sustained stream of teaching while Paul was with the Thessalonians.

1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.NASB95

It was really clear what Paul, and thus Christ, wanted Timothy to do in church: read the word of God, exhort people to obey the word of God and teach people the word of God. Frankly, that takes time. 12 minutes doesn't cut it. Add to that that we are removed from the language, context and culture of scripture by thousands of years, so it takes more time now than it did then.

The good news is that people can handle it. In fact when committed believers are exposed to serious bible teaching they can’t get enough of it. We are experiencing this in our own church. The more we preach the word the more our core group of believers wants more. This includes our core group of believing teens. In fact my friend’s son who is 16 went with his dad to the service with the 12 minute sermon, and after hearing the sermon he responded to his dad by saying "is that it?"

I think a lot of teens are quietly saying the same thing in their hearts about the pop culture teen sermon devoid of substantive teaching from God's word: "Is that it?"

2 comments:

watchman said...

Caleb,

I've bben doing this youth pastoring thing for three years, now. I'm really bad at it in the sense that I'm not good at programming, I'm terrible at x-box, and I don't know how to put a cool background on my myspace.

However, I've found that kids are bored with all this hyper-real media and info saturation. They want something real and meaningful. Luckily we have the gospel of action and change.

Why are kids leaving the Church? They're bored... for good reason.

Caleb Azure said...

Right on Corey. Most of the activities that are considered youth ministry are perifrial at best. We are minister's of the new covenant! And real ministry is defintelty not boring!

Caleb