WHI-1208 | Sustainable Discipleship

Sunday, 01 Jun 2014

How should we disciple young adults? Though some are aware of the problems with entertainment based youth ministry, many are fearful that content based or catechetical approaches to Christian discipleship will leave kids bored and disengaged. Is this actually true or should we challenge these assumptions? This week on the White Horse Inn, Dr. Michael Horton continues the series on youth ministry with Derek Rishmawy and Brian Thomas, who have been on the front line dealing with many of the shortcomings of modern models of discipleship. Join the conversation as they discuss important questions like…. “Are we actually not giving young people a chance to develop and mature as young Christians? Are we a little too fearful that if we bore the kids, we’ll drive them right out of the church, when in fact, the statistics are showing that they’re leaving the church in droves?”

“Why would you think that when it comes to the faith, when it comes to Christ, when it comes to the author of all things, it is all going to be immediately interesting or immediately comprehensible? No, this is just one of those things where you have to actually remind people that knowledge of the faith, knowledge of theology that we’re talking about reality. And so, if reality is complicated, sometimes explanations about theology or doctrine or the Scriptures are going to be correspondingly complicated and you’re going to have to work at it. But that’s okay… because it’s real. You can tip them off to this, saying ‘I think you can think about this. I know you can. You engage at high levels in other contexts, so it is okay if you do that here.’ That further reinforces it, that we’re not dealing with just myths. We’re not dealing with just nice things that keep your emotions buzzing. On the weekend, we’re dealing with reality, real life. This is the stuff that kicks-in when your parents divorce. This is the stuff that kicks-in when you get the note that you have cancer at 22 and that doesn’t make sense. You really want to know about the sovereignty of God at that point. What is my comfort in life or in death? I think that part of it, again, is how are you framing it and are you giving these young adults, these students, who are hungry for real answers, for real dialogue about this stuff, are you framing it well? Are you giving them enough credit to challenge them?”
Factors that Inhibit Catechesis Today
“The first and biggest factor that inhibits catechesis, and the hardest to counter or circumvent, is the turn away from external authority in Western culture… [L]eading thinkers in the West began to see themselves as pioneers of a new, post- Christian era in which the Christian heritage of belief might be questioned and critiqued like any other human point of view. This was a radical turn from a millennium and a half of acknowledging the truth and authority of God’s written Word as set forth in and by the church…
The second inhibiting factor, a corollary of the first, is resistance to authoritative instruction within the Christian community… In children’s and youth work across the board, today’s agenda is learning Bible stories rather than being grounded in truths about the Triune God. In group Bible studies generally, participants are led to look directly for personal devotional applications without first contemplating the writers’ points about the greatness, goals, methods, and mystery of God.
A final factor inhibiting catechesis emerges here: preoccupation. In most evangelical churches, Sunday and weekly programs are already as full as can be reasonably managed.”
(Adapted from J. I Packer and Gary Parrett’s Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, pp 10-12).

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