Junior varsity sports are typically painful to watch. JV teams are often comprised of teenagers who haven’t yet mastered their particular sport. That’s why they’re the early game, the one where only parents fill the stands to cheer on their precious angel. Even in practice, the JV squad only rarely, if ever, gets the full attention of the head coach. Rather, an assistant coach is given the primary coaching responsibilities. When they advance to the varsity squad, that’s when they get priority during practice and recognition among the fans.
Sadly, that’s how many churches view the youth minister. Let me say upfront that I’m a blessed one with a church that takes seriously the need for solid biblical teaching, and they hold me to it. But too many churches are willing to hire anyone with a lot of energy that is willing to entertain their teenagers. As long as you’re willing to plan a lot of fun events for a small amount of money, you’re hired. After all, they’re the JV. They’ll get real teaching when they become adults.
This must change. It’s time for churches to take seriously the duty to teach their children the word of God. It’s time for churches to force their youth ministers to focus more on preaching and teaching the word than they do on planning games and funny videos.
Until that happens, our churches have no right to bemoan the fact that many are leaving their ranks once they leave the youth group. If your priority is fun and games and not on pointing students to the riches found in Christ (and giving them a vision for the entire church), of course they’re going to leave to pursue the fun that awaits them on their college campus.
Now a word for youth ministers: I’m not against games, pizza, or the like; I’m against letting these things or events be the engine that drives the ministry.
We are doing an injustice to the students and the churches by withholding the glorious truths that can only be found by digging deeply into the word of God. Youth pastors, teach them the Word.
“But Cody, some of them will leave if we do that.” Yes, you’re probably right. But what good is it if you fill up a room with teenagers who don’t love to dig in the Scriptures? You’re crippling them for life by not showing them the importance of the Bible. Also, what’s more effective: training a large group of superficial Christians who don’t long for the “solid food” of the faith or training a smaller group of Christians who cherish the gospel?
We’re going to give account for the people God has entrusted to us (Heb. 13:17). Are you going to stand before Him knowing that you gave them the Word or will you be standing there with an empty pizza box and tons of awesome game ideas?