Monthly Archives: January 2009

Barna Research – Student Faith Devolopment

I’m a stats guy.  Much can be learned and determined in numbers.  A website that has been valuable in teaching, vision, leadership, discipleship, etc. is www.barna.org.  There you can find valuable research in spiritual surveys and studies.

Recently, the Barna group performed a study on whether America is truly a “Christian Nation”.  If you are a member, deacon, elder, Sunday school teacher, pastor….or even thinking of going to church, you should read this.

For youth workers, there are strong implications for youth ministry here, especially in this statement: “Leading the charge in the move to customize one’s package of beliefs are people under the age of 25, among whom more than four out of five (82%) said they develop their own combination of beliefs rather than adopt a set proposed by a church.”

Here are the implications for youth ministry that come to mind:

  1. The church cannot operate in a way that the younger generation will just be “grandfathered” into their faith.  
  2. Students do not want to be spoon fed spirituality.  In fact, they shouldn’t be.  Sunday schools, youth groups, student ministries should all be operated in a way where the material is presented (Biblically), and the student must be faced with the decision, rather than always giving them the answers. 
  3. Application in lessons is bigger now than ever before.
  4. Encourage them to devolop an “independent faith”, seperate from their parent’s faith.  So when they leave the house, they won’t leave the church too!
  5. Finally, and possibly most importantly, do not preach/teach watered down faith.  Preach the real-deal gospel and Christian living.  God’s Word is not a smorgasboard where you can pick and choose what you want to follow…so we shouldn’t present it that way either.

How does this barna research affect your ministry?

Discouraged in Youth Ministry?

Read Mark 14:32-42

Look at the ministry of Christ in this passage.  He had to emotionally spent, thinking of what was going to occur.  The seriousness of it all was overwhelming.  He would go to pray with all his heart and soul, then he came back to find his disciples sleeping.  He gave them some instructions, and went away to pray.  Then, he came back to find his disciples sleeping again.

Does this remind anyone else of youth ministry?  You pour out your heart and soul into a lesson thinking your students are listening, then you come back the next Sunday and the ones you think will stand up are sleeping (possibly literally, but talking spiritually here).   This is the generation we are handing the Church to…Christ had the same problem – these were the men that would build the 1st generation Church. 

My encouragement is to not give up.  These students will disappoint you from time to time, but read Acts 2:38-41.  Look how far Peter came from that day that he fell asleep…that day that he denied Christ 3 times.  In Acts 2, we see he later preached to a crowd where thousands accepted Christ.

Don’t give up on these teenagers.  You never know how God might use them someday.  Jesus didn’t give up on his “youth group”, and neither should you.  Who knows, the next Simon Peter or Billy Graham could be in the back row of your next meeting…you could help make that happen. 

This video shows some examples of people that failed, but just needed a little encouragement before reaching greatness.  Will you be that person in your student’s lives?  Discouraged in youth ministry?  Welcome to the club…don’t give up.

Does Satan run your church?

Satan’s plan is to destroy the church in any way he can. The question is, is he succeeding in your ministry? Here is a funny satire on that very question. This is a must see.