“I came from the youth service of [insert name of youth ministry] and it was fun!”
You’ll hear this statement from some teens. They came from a youth service where the praise and worship was like a concert and the music team was like one of the famous alternative band. The production was superb and the sounds and lighting were really state-of-the-art. And the preacher sounded like a stand-up comedian. It was really fun!
A lot of youth ministries have adapted (and are adapting) a ministry philosophy that revolves around fun. They spend lots of time, energy, and resources making their activities and even their entire ministry fun (or entertaining). It actually bothers me. Why? Because fun, as attractive it may be, is a shallow philosophy. It produces fun-loving, shallow disciples (if we can really call them disciples). I begin to wonder what will happen to those kids when the day comes where the activities cease to be fun. Will they still stick around?
Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Deny oneself? Take up an instrument of death? Follow? Doesn’t sound fun to me. Yet this is what Jesus requires if we would want to become his disciples. And our youth ministries went after fun instead.
Now hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that our youth services shouldn’t have excellent production. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t invest in good equipment. And I’m not saying that the preacher shouldn’t incorporate humor in his message. They all have their proper places. We are serving a glorious God and, by all means, we should have excellent worship services and activities.
What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t major on fun. Rather, let’s focus on other more important things, such as sound teaching and intentional disciple-making. Instead of making fun-loving, entertainment-driven kids, let’s produce biblically-grounded, missional-minded disciples. I challenge youth pastors/leaders to do this.
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