Take off time and ask any typical church member what words come to mind when they hear the words “youth ministry” – majority will probably use words like “games” or “fun” as part of their description.
Like never before, so many churches today have the largest portion of their budget and energy injected into flashy services meant to make teenagers and young adults feel entertained and comfortable.
While these aren’t inherently bad ideas and might in some cases be effective, they are not the key to drawing youth back to God in a lasting and meaningful way, according to Mr Isaac Joash, a youth Pastor and the general Manager of Proclaim Children’s Choir.
“If our strategy is to win young people or children’s allegiance to church by offering better entertainment than the world, then we’ve picked a losing battle. Entertainment might get kids to church in their teens, but it certainly won’t keep them there through their twenties,” he says.
Adding, “Of course there’s nothing wrong with pizza and video games or entertainment. The real problem is when they displace spiritual formation and teaching the Bible. And ultimately that’s the greatest danger of being overly reliant on an entertainment model.”
Pastor Isaac made these remarks as he revealed the exponential rise in the millennial generation committed to positively impact our world.
Although many Churches feel entertainment could be the remedy to getting youth or keeping them in Church, recent research by Kara Powell , Jake Mulder and Brad M. Griffin in their book “Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church” shows that young churchgoers, ages 15 to 29, want: authenticity and connection.
“When we analyzed the terms that young adults used to describe the churches or parishes that they chose, we noticed repeated words: welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable and caring,” the authors said.
Millennials, according to the research, want to address real life issues; they’re seeking answers to the tough questions and wanting to have the tough conversations. “They are inquisitive and want to know answers to certain questions.”
Pr Isaac believes it’s not only that churches get locked into a cycle of serving up ever-increasing measures of fun, rather it’s that they are distracted from doing the real work of children or youth ministry—”fostering robust faith.”
“Members of the millennial generation – people born after 1982 – are bursting onto the scene as young adults. Their optimism and passion, combined with their desire to commit to a cause, give them great potential to positively impact our world,” he says.
“Their desire for rules and boundaries, combined with their support for tradition and values, make them ready to listen to members of older generations who could give them guidance. Millennials are longing for connection and meaning, and there’s no better way for older people to help them find those things than by mentoring them,” he adds.
According to Greg Stier, founder and president of Dare 2 Share Ministries (D2S), Churches should use entertainment wisely and not let it use then.
“Fun and games can be portols or potholes depending on whether or not they open up deeper spiritual conversation or are an end in and of themselves,” he says.
Greg urges church should in all means available majorly offer Bible-based, life-transforming, and mission-driven programs to the entertainment-approaches offered them by some adult youth leaders.