Maybe you’ve been tuned into the controversy surrounding a recent film about youth ministry entitled Divided. I recently watched the video online and felt compelled to respond to its controversial conclusion. The movie contends that offering youth ministry programs in our churches that provide specific teaching time for teenagers is unbiblical and damaging to our young people’s spiritual health.
Needless to say, if this is accurate, then it means all of us in youth ministry have not only been wasting our time, but actually hurting the Kingdom. That’s why it’s essential that we dig deeper and examine Scripture on this issue.
I want to encourage you to check out my full blog on this movie, since it’s a current topic I believe every youth leader should be aware of and informed about. Here’s a brief excerpt from my blog…
How did I feel about Divided? Mixed, split and, well, divided! This surprisingly well filmed documentary follows the journey of one young man on a “quest” to discover what’s gone wrong with youth ministry and how to fix it.
It quickly identifies one of the major reasons for youth ministry’s failure, Christian parents (specifically dads) abandoning their roles as the primary spiritual mentors of their children. I couldn’t help but internally applaud the emphasis on dad’s taking responsibility for the spiritual development of their own children in the church.
Too many parents outsource the spiritual development of their teenagers to youth leaders instead of tackling the job personally. But Deuteronomy 6:4-9 was written to dads and moms not youth leaders and sponsors. The power of God’s command through Moses to the people of Israel still reverberates for parents today:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
How can we as parents delegate, relegate or abdicate the spiritual development of our kids to someone else? Divided makes it crystal clear that, when it comes to the spiritual development of children, it is the primary responsibility of fathers to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4.) Youth leaders were never meant to replace a parent’s spiritual leadership but, in many cases, that is exactly what has happened.
So on the one hand I totally agree with the premise that dads and moms should be the primary spiritual influencers in the lives of their own children. But on the other hand, and it is a hand with a bad case of elephantiasis, many of the experts in this “unbiased” documentary made some pretty lame arguments about why youth ministry is anti-Biblical.
One of the lines of reasoning in Divided is that, because youth ministry is never even alluded to in the Bible, it must be wrong. But I believe this premise is badly flawed…
You can read the rest of the article “My Take on the Movie Divided” on my blog. In it, I list several scripture passages that I believe challenge many of their arguments, attitudes and conclusions. I would encourage you to bring a discerning heart as you read more on this issue and examine Scripture for yourself.
Be sure to check out the three action points at the end of the article that can help you build a more biblical youth ministry!