thoughts about youth ministry and I think my wife is a calvinist…

Leah and I have been rethinking our ideas about youth ministry here in the past few weeks.  Its not so much that we are realizing new things, but that we are trying to implement things that we’ve known all along.  I have about 47 books on youth ministry.  I haven’t read all of most of them, but I’ve read at least a little of all of them… and they all talk about the same thing: building attractional programming and building positive relationships.

The relationship stuff can be helpful.

However, most of them are filled with statistics and psychological stuff.  All of that can be helpful, but rarely do these guys actually talk about teaching kids the word of God.

When youth ministry becomes primarily about programming, the goal is no longer to see kids know and treasure Christ, but for them to be assimilated into the programs: teenagers start leading the worship band or take charge of the children’s sunday school classes, and the youth pastor is convinced that they are “saved.”

When youth ministry becomes primarily about relationships, the goal can move from knowing and treasuring Christ to making positive decisions and doing good.  A teenager volunteers at the soup kitchen or collects canned food for needy families and we think they’re “saved.”

Pause for a second.  Those are great things.  I wish every teenager in my youth group would be a leader in church life or volunteer their own time to helping others.  I’m not opposed to that at all.  But it needs to be the result of their knowledge of and love for God.

The goal is to see them know and treasure Christ above all else.  Period.

How are they going to do that if I water down his word?

How are they going to do that if I talk about funny stuff or “relevant” stuff more than I teach them about who Christ is and how worthy of treasuring He is?

Their math teachers don’t water down Trigonometry for them.  Their English teachers don’t make them read the abridged version of Hamlet.  Why should I water down God’s word?  If they can understand Calculus and Chaucer, then they can understand justification.

We’re still building relationships with them.  We’re still having fun with them.  But we’re through watering Truth down.  Period.


On a lighter note, Leah and I were trying to write a real song and this is what came out:


Over at, there is a really cool thing call the Liturgical Gangstas.  He asks a question and has someone from a number of different denominations answer it.   Check it out if you haven’t already.  The second one is about the meanings of Sacramental, Attractional, and Missional.  Interesting stuff.  Be sure to read the first one about Spiritual Growth, as well.


17 thoughts on “thoughts about youth ministry and I think my wife is a calvinist…

  1. I am still laughing ten minutes after playing it for the third time! If this does not launch a five star career, we aught to shut down the net.
    I am forwarding the link to EVERYONE in my mail list.
    And Merry Christmas to all.

  2. Pingback: Brandon Milan - I think my wife is a Calvinist. | OrthoCuban

  3. Good satire and I love it. I am trying to think of someone to forward it to but I am at a lose for I don’t think I have anyone on my mailing list that would get it.

  4. After spending the first third of my life in the Calvinist camp by default, God brought me to the place where I could truly trust Him. Now, after nearly 40 years of baptistic, dispensational, pop-evangelicalism, I am beginning to appreciate my Calvinist roots. Maybe they never really died. Anyway, that song is just too funny for words. But I don’t know who to send it to: The dispensational Baptists would be offended and the Calvinists I know just wouldn’t get it.

  5. Pingback: Caffeinated Thoughts | Your Wife May Be a Calvinist if…

  6. I attend Bethlehem Baptist here in the twin cities, so John Piper is my pastor. I LOVED YOUR VIDEO! My wife is proudly putting it on her facebook page.

    On a more serious note, Bethlehem has their own cirriculum for kids and teens, and it is serious. If you are looking for a way to teach young people to treasure Christ, check with BBC. Their are many churches using it now.

    Thanks again for wonderful song!

    MD Views

  7. Pingback: Is your wife a Calvinist? | After His Own Heart

  8. You said more about effective youth ministry in this short blog than all of those forty-seven relational manuals could have. Our youth are smarter than we give them credit and they can understand the deeper things of Christ.

    P.S. I enjoyed your song. A+

  9. Saw the video several days ago ( truly funny…..if you ever edit it, you should look for a way to incorporate Jonathan Edwards….just saying), and am just now checking out your blog.

    I appreciate and agree with you thoughts on youth ministry. I am a youth pastor, also, and have thought the same kinds of things for some time. The only problem I have is in seeing what kids do (or rather, don’t, learn in school. They do read abridged and edited versions of classic literary works in school. Their teachers (and parents) do try to make every learning activity fun and exciting. The result is that any time we try to get serious, their eyes glaze over. They have been trained like dogs, and they’ll have nothing else.

    Their teachers and parents have done, and are doing, them a great disservice. So how do we contend with that? I don’t think we play the game, too, as we will only be adding to the problem. But it seems they do, at least where I live, want nothing to do with anything that isn’t “easy.” It just seems like we get stuck, and what’s the way out?


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