Is ‘Youth Ministry’ Wholly Biblical?

This week, I posted the comment on this image on social media:

youth church

The words of the post has lingered on my heart after seeing it receive significant reaction on social media forums like Facebook and Twitter.

My Personal Tension

As a youth leadership coach and mentor, I’ve often questioned the biblical authenticity of youth ministry as we know it today. I suspect that may come as a surprise to many, seeing I’m deeply passionate about youth ministry and raising the next generation of leaders in local churches (and that’s my calling!)

But I experience an inner tension every now and then:

Is youth ministry entirely biblical or is it a result of a generational deviation from God’s purpose for the family?

In the last decade, I’ve served young people in Lagos, London, Liverpool and most recently Essen. I’ve also been privileged to speak across multiple cities. But whether it’s in Africa or Europe, I have been met with the same concealed notion that the success or failure of young people is directly linked to their respective youth ministries.

To put it rather plainly – some parents seem to embrace the notion that it’s the responsibility of their church youth ministry to nurture and raise their children spiritually. I have a problem with this view, for obvious reasons:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” – Genesis 18:19

Even Samuel, who grew up in the church, had a father-son relationship with Eli.
 

My Thoughts

My reservations about the misplaced notion of youth ministry persists because I don’t see biblical evidence that affirms it, yet. Scripture is replete with directive to parents on raising their children, not the youth church.

I believe that the youth ministry (as we know it today) evolved partly as a result of a desire to give children an identity that God intended to emerge from the home, not the corporate church.

Our society is in rapid decline and so is parenting in general. But if we must take hold of our future and raise wholesome children and youths, we need to return to the God-intended way; God-centered families where biblical teachings are central.

While I believe in the sincerity of this awesome branch of the church, I believe its goal should be to support and affirm the messages of a God-focused family, not primarily lead the delivery of that message as the norm.

Your Thoughts?

I understand my views may stir some debate; I gladly welcome that. I would love to read from you. I want to know your thoughts and belief on this issue:

Where do you see the true place of youth ministry in the Christian family and church? Leave a comment.

About Joseph Iregbu

I'm a writer, purpose guy, speaker and business consultant. My passion is to help people live with purpose and not waste their lives. I live in the UK with my wife, Temi and our gorgeous Isabel Juda. Let's connect on Twitter and Facebook.

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