By Ken Moser | March 28, 2012
I want an iPad. They look shiny and I’m sure one will make my life complete. So I’ve set up a plan: I will slowly take a few dollars from Julie’s purse each week. Combine that with the coins that I keep finding on the street and I’m sure I’ll come up with the cash in no time.
Now, when I am in the store looking at this new gadget, a number of questions really ought to be floating around in my skull. Do I really need it? Is it worth the money? Will it make my life more efficient? How will I explain this to Julie? Etc. etc. These questions must be the ‘filter’ that the iPad purchase goes through to the help me make the right decision.
Let’s take this to youth ministry.
It is commonplace for us in youth ministry not to be all that critical when it comes to strategies and practices we decide to put into place in youth ministry. We have a little bit of a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude—whatever works, works. In fact, most of us feel uncomfortable asking questions about strategies. We don’t seem to ask the obvious filter questions of our youth ministry programs and strategies that we would ask when we make other decisions (like “should I buy myself an iPad?”).
Is it right to be so laid back in this issue? Are there some questions that we need to aim toward youth ministry practices that just might keep us from an unnecessary purchase? I think so.
What’s on my mind today is the practice of “two-tiered evangelism”. It is on my mind because I’m going to spend a bit of time on it in my class on evangelism. It is not unusual for a youth group to run two nights; one committed to evangelism and one committed to discipleship. This strategy is decades old and still adopted by many youth programs. You can understand the logic: one night is focused on having a fun time where friends who don’t know Jesus come to meet some Christians. The other night is designed for those interested in going further in the Christian faith.
Is this program open to critique? Is it even worth spending a few pixels on it? I think it is, and I want to suggest that all our youth programs and strategies need to be filtered through three questions:
Is it Biblical? (Do we see anything like it in God’s word? Are we exhorted/commanded to do it?)
Is it practical? (Can it be done with the resources we have? Is it the most practical option we can choose?)
Does it yield results? (Are we seeing fruit from it? Real, long-term fruit.)
I think these three questions are crucial when deciding to adopt or reject a strategy.
Now there is a ton of things I could say about each question but I’ll save your eyes and contain my thoughts at this stage. When we think about a strategy like the two-tiered evangelism, does it score well when filtered through those three questions? We don’t see it in Scripture, for most groups it is very hard to do (especially if you are a volunteer or a leader with few volunteers available) and, for the majority, we are not seeing real long-term fruit where young people are growing and staying Christian as they get older.
The two-tiered program appears to be more like a shiny gadget that we just don’t need.
(Gotta go, Julie has just gone outside and her purse is hanging in plain view!)