WHI-1209 | Giving Up Gimmicks

Sunday, 08 Jun 2014

If you visit a typical youth program at an average evangelical church, you’ll no doubt observe a number of fun and entertaining activities. Yet most Christian teens are ignorant about the basic message of Scripture, and most statistics show that a great majority of them will abandon church after high school. This week on the White Horse Inn, Dr. Michael Horton continues the series on youth ministry with special guest Brian Cosby, author of Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture. Join the conversation as they discuss important questions like…. “Do you see that in youth ministry that [young people] aren’t being anchored in what they believe and why they believe it, or to the wider community in which they belong? Is there a correlation here between people dropping out of church because they’re not engaged, there’s nothing there that holds their attention, that stops them in their tracks and this failure at some point along the way for youth leaders, parents, and pastors to really communicate the Christian faith in all of its breadths and depth?”

“Basically, what we are seeing is that so many youth are leaving the church after they graduate. And right now, many people who are working with youth, professors, are coming out with answers to that [problem]. Typically, yes, success has been the name of the church-growth game. What youth pastors want so much is to look good. So, they do all kinds of gimmicks, all kinds of entertainment driven models of just brining in people, just to get the numbers to say ‘Hey, look we’ve got it all going on. This is about us.’ I was a part of this for a number of years. I was a part of this movement. We were swallowing goldfish. We were doing anything and everything we could to get the large numbers of teenagers into the church… This was harmful for the students that would come. Every week we were trying to do things bigger and better the next week. How are we going to top that? How are going to top getting the Christian magician in? What else can we do? And yet, the whole while, I was burned out on this kind of ministry. We didn’t have the family at all in mind in this. Success was really driving this, instead of faithfulness. And so, if there is anything I would want your listeners to hear it’s that, I want to plead with you to be faithful to the Lord in the ministry that he has given his church and not strive after success and numbers. God gives the growth anyway. We are to plant, to water the Gospel. He gives the growth. That is our calling and task.”
– Brian Cosby
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
“When Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.’
“As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these: 1. ‘A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.’ 2. ‘God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.’ 3. ‘The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.’ 4. ‘God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.’ 5. ‘Good people go to heaven when they die.’
“That, in sum, is the creed to which much adolescent faith can be reduced. After conducting more than 3,000 interviews with American adolescents, the researchers reported that, when it came to the most crucial questions of faith and beliefs, many adolescents responded with a shrug and “whatever.”
(Taken from “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the New American Religion” by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., published on The Christian Post, April 18, 2005.)

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