Monday, June 21, 2010

Sacrificing our children on the alter of Youth Group

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sacrificing our children on the alter of Youth Group

We are an anomaly in our community for the simple reason that we don't allow our children to go to youth group.

God created, in the family, the perfect system for passing on values and faith. He gave each family a Priest (Dad), a Teacher (Mom) and Disciples (Children). He gave us an environment perfectly suited to the raising and nurturing the next generation. When I say perfectly suited, I don't mean perfect. A family is made up of imperfect people. Dad and Mom will mess up, children will disobey. In short, a family is comprised of a group of sinners. But, that too, is God's plan. It is in the disagreements, misunderstandings, hurt feelings and humanness of our family, that God teaches us the most valuable lessons of life. It is in the classroom of the family that He teaches us humility, forgiveness, mercy, long suffering - the very attributes of His son.

The modern christian church is asking fathers to give up their priesthood, mothers to give up teaching their children and children to become disciples of the "youth pastors". Oh, they would never say that in so many words, however, that is the fruit that is being put forth. I believe that youth pastors have the best of intentions, but when we stray from the biblical format for the religious instruction of our children, the consequences are dire. Don't get me wrong - I don't think we should just let teenagers fall between the cracks. I think that "youth outreach" can be a wonderful thing. I just don't believe that as christian parents we can afford to abdicate our roles as parents and give authority for the instruction of our children over to 20-something, newly married, well meaning youth pastors. As parents, we have a vested interest in our children and their future. We also have an obligation before God. When we allow our children to go to youth group, we encourage them to become self-focused. Youth group is typically made to be focused on youth (no surprise), therefore the focus is on doing things that are "relevant" to youth. "Their" music is played, "their" skits are performed, they discuss how "they" can make an impact. Where is God? Where is His holiness?

Adolescence is an incredible time. God used many young people to accomplish His will. Teenagers are FULL of conviction and FULL of action. They can be on fire for Christ like no one else! But they need Godly counsel to battle the pulls of the world. God gave children parents to be that Godly counsel. When your kid goes to the youth pastor to get "dating" advice rather than asking your counsel, you know that you have been replaced. I can almost guarantee that rather than telling your son or daughter to go to his dad with his questions, your youth pastor will give him the advice that he seeks. And I can almost guarantee that it will not be the same counsel that you would have given. And your kids knows this, which is why he asked his youth pastor in the first place. You see, you have put someone else in the position of authority with your child. Someone who thinks they are doing a good thing, but they don't know your child like you do, they don't have the same vested interest that you do and they don't have the God given responsibility that you have.

Christianity is losing more people than it is gaining. Our children are looking to the world for answers, not to the church. Maybe the church should be turning children to their parents. Maybe the church should be teaching fathers to be the Priest, Prophet, Provider and Protectors of their families. Maybe the church should be teaching mothers to be keepers at home, to love their husbands and to teach their children. Maybe the church should be in the business of discipling families, not trying to take the place of families.


  1. As former youth pastors, I have to take the other side in this debate. We had a small church where our youth group consisted of 28 kids. Of those only 3 were from 2 parent homes, one was our child. We had kids who asked us to have them removed from their homes because the parent was requiring them to smoke pot so the kids wouldn't bother the parents by being too loud. They were 2 teen boys and one had some social and mental difficulties due to drug use by the parent during pregnancy and beyond. We had many foster kids in the group. Three of those teens were being sexually abused and filmed by the foster dad. One other child was left on his own without food for many days at a time while his parent worked (or partied) out of town. One of the kids lived with her dad who had just gotten out of prison and moved out of state with her. In the middle of the night, he would get drunk and start screaming and hitting her to wake up.
    These are just a few of the things we dealt with on a daily or hourly basis. If you think this was an inner-city church, you would be wrong. It was a tiny town on the southern Oregon coast. If the parents were keeping to their roles based on God's pattern, maybe there would be no reason for youth group. But I have also seen thousands of kids worshiping God, bringing friends who are broken and need rescuing to meetings, standing up for the Bible and the Genesis Creation in schools. My own kids attend public school and I have been contacted several times by the vice-principal to thank me for the way we are raising our kids. My kids see themselves as salt and light. The youth group they attend has grown substantially since my son and daughter took it upon themselves to invite and witness to kids they had just met. We are now pastors in a village in eastern Oregon and our kids have only been in this school for 2.5 years, but they are making a difference. If the only people attending church were from 2 parent homes where the parents cared where the kids were, what the kids were doing, and who they were doing it with, and the families as a whole were involved with the church and living a Christian life at home and work, then I would say there would no need for youth group. Unfortunately, that is not the case in many homes.

  2. I believe that "sunday schools" were originally started by churches for children of unsaved parents. I think that believing parents have an obligation to teach their covenant children and that "youth groups" should be for children of unbelievers.

  3. Is the youth group Biblical . . . either by command, principle, or pattern? Do we believe that the Holy Scriptures are sufficient for everything in life? Many young folks come from very troubled homes. Can we minister to them without a "youth group"? How would it work if families within a church body "spiritually adopt" a young person as part of their family?

  4. I can say that I agree with most of what Enola Gray has written here. Reason why? We were faithful church goers throughout our oldest child child rearing...boy did we got through a lot during that time period. I homeschooled her all the way through. Our biggest issues were losing the authority of her at church. There was certain things that we disagreed with within the church functions, like the music the youth group played, the movies/shows, the trips or functions they sometimes did etc...and a lot of times the advice the youth minister would give. It caused a lot of friction within our home life.

    Now...with our other two children we do not go through that. Our children do not go to a youth group setting...they do not have the peer pressure that our oldest child went through...and they seem to be happier adolescents than our oldest child was. Even our oldest child has mentioned the difference she sees in her younger siblings.

    I understand the above debate about taking the Christian children out of Youth Group...I do. I have heard from plenty of good minded friends and family how we are taking our children (the light) out of the dark are they to minister to other kids their age. I will tell you where, at our home. Where we can be the watch gate keepers.

    Again, this was a very informative post.