Our students are bored with God. Many of them are overchurched, overprogrammed, and homeschooled. I find myself spending most of my time organizing events, sending emails to parents, creating the next season’s calendar, and planning fundraising events for our students to go to Forest Home in February. It all becomes very taxing and after hours of emails/admin, I forget why I fell in love with ministry in the first place. It’s hard not to become angry and bitter when facing an audience of bored, over-churched, flannel board teenagers who desperately need a fresh perspective of Jesus. I love our students, I really do. And it’s not their fault. Not even their parent’s fault. Christianity in America has taken a dangerous route into the land of safety and nice things. To be honest, if I’m around Christian culture too much – I don’t even get excited about following Jesus. Bo-ring. I really feel like the Church in America has robbed Christianity of its radical, life-fulfilling design. And I am both a victim and enforcer.
How I wish we could scrap youth group the way it looks now (at least for the older kids) and completely reconstruct it to actually fulfill its purpose as The Church and Be the Church. I don’t really know what it would look like in Kailua, HI 2007, but I know God is awakening an urgency in this generation. There are, of course, major stumbling blocks – none of which I’m proud to admit – all of which are susceptible to human nature:
- Parents and kids want fun, exciting, youth programs, and it’s really hard to create a ministry model that actually looks like it values people over programs and fulfills its purpose
- It’s easier to make a stellar calendar with great events
- What is the draw for non churched kids? (My personal answer is that non churched teenagers today would much rather observe Christians practicing the Church and being authentic in their faith than going to “Club” once a week)
- Students are entirely overcommitted, and it’s hard to get students even emotionally and spiritually committed to a vision or small group when they’d much rather show up, get fed, and leave.
I don’t think great events are bad, and I fully believe in doing events/youth group well. I’m not even suggesting we axe the events/programs/etc. – but I find it incredibly alarming when talking to at least five jr. high girls in one week and discover that most of them are bored with God, too busy to pay any attention to God, and really dislike coming to church. I’m thrilled that these girls open up and have even discovered their spiritual identity at this young of an age, but the last thing I want to do is create an environment that further enforces boredom with God. Heck, I’m bored with God right now. I will be the first to confess that the overkill of “church” makes it hard to pursue passionate discipleship. I will also be the first to admit that our students won’t desire God if their leaders are bored too. And this all makes me want to throw my hands up, move to Africa, and Be the Church in a village of people who are dying of AIDs and hungry for nourishment and love.
I realize running away isn’t the answer – but that the fire inside of me is, in fact, an answer to prayer. Last night I confessed that I really wasn’t living up to my potential as a minister. Not that I’m doing a bad job in the “professional sense,” but that our students have been robbed of me too. My “spiritual fervor” has waned, and I spent a lot of time last night confessing to God that I’m missing the boat. I complain of our students being overprogrammed and overcommitted, but fail to look at where I spend most of my own time.
I haven’t been feeling great lately… and I’m beginning to see how this illness might turn from a burden to a blessing. It’s time to sit in bed and crack open the Bible, the books, and rediscover my first love in hopes of casting the vision to build eager disciples. Without eager disciples, youth group can’t be transformed. First things first – the heart, and then the program.