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Youth Ministry – Is it Scriptural?

Biblical Youth Ministry


Introduction

The Scriptures teach us that we are to continually examine ourselves to see if the things we are doing in our expression of faith and practice of ministry is consistent with Yahweh’s Word. It is essential to our obedience to HIM to ascertain if we are in HIS will. The commandment of Messiah to go into all nations, making disciples, and teaching them to obey HIS commands is an order from our Almighty Commander and Master. Our efforts to accomplish this commanded task must then be weighed against HIS Set Apart Scriptures, containing HIS commandments. It is with this in mind that I examine the expressions of ministry to youth that I’ve experienced as an elder, a children’s ministry teacher and as a
manager of a “Christian Rock “Radio station.

This thesis was originally written to set forth the mission statement that I believed Yahweh wanted for WCVM Radio, one of the radio stations I managed. However, I believe this is an accurate model for a mission statement for all youth related ministry. I will, Yahweh willing, cite Scripture references to support my presentation of issues and resulting conclusions.

Mission Statement of a Scriptural Youth Ministry:

  • Dedicated to returning the body of Messiah to the truth of Yahweh’s Word in knowledge and application, raising children to grow into a mature life in Messiah, bringing families together in the truth of Scripture and fostering a community dedicated to repairing the generational breach that fragments and weakens the body of Messiah.

Scriptures the Yahweh has laid on my heart in formulating what I believe is HIS current vision for the ministry:

  • Malachi 4:4-6: “Remember the Law of Moses, MY servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Yahweh. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
  • Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

We are not Elijah, just as we are not Messiah. However, we are to understand that these Scriptures speak to us and teach us the things that we are to do to please the Master, Yahusha Messiah, by faith. The Law of Moses, spoken of in Malachi
4, is the Law of Yahweh Elohim – HIS gentle loving instruction. The Law of Moses is the commandment and the statutes and judgments of Yahweh, spoken of in Deuteronomy 6, that are to be taught “diligently to your children.” It is a Father’s job to teach the Scriptures to their children and it is the responsibility of the  children to sit at their father’s feet and learn. There requires submitted hearts on the part of fathers and children.

  • 2nd Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of Elohim, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man (or woman) of Yahweh may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

We know from Ephesians 2 that we are not saved by works, but by grace through faith, that is a gift of Elohim, but, it further states that we are created in Messiah for good works that HE prepared beforehand that we should walk in, or do. The good works that HE has “prepared beforehand” are found in the Scriptures that Shaul/Paul spoke of to Timothy in Chapter 3 Verse 16.

Isaiah 58 speaks of Yahweh’s concept of fasting and the result of it. We can see by a careful reading of the chapter that fasting brings about a denying of self and a focus on the good of others by undoing heavy burdens, loosing bonds of wickedness, freeing the oppressed, breaking every yoke, sharing bread with the hungry, remembering the poor and clothing the naked. Fasting is to do away with the selfish nature of man that says I want it my way when I want it and no one else matters. The result of selfishness brings division and a despising of the body of Messiah, and Messiah HIMSELF. According to 1st Corinthians 11, a denying of self, in consideration of the Messiah and others in the body, brings about blessing and an edification of the entire body. Isaiah 58 further states that if we do this denying of self we will call on Yahweh, and HE will answer; “You shall cry, and He will say ‘Here I am.” Reading on in Isaiah 58 we see that if we do these things “If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you should extend your the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as noonday., “Yahweh will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, (see Psalm 1) and like a spring of waters, who waters do not fail.” And here comes some specifics that I believe speak to our mission even more directly. “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the Repairer of the breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” The capitalization of the titles repairer and restorer refer to Messiah Yahusha. But the Scripture is clear that it is speaking to those who have a wrong idea of fasting.

The idea of fasting, held by those the prophet Isaiah was addressing, was one of selfishness, according to the first four verses. That certainly would not include Yahusha Messiah. While it is true that HE is the Repairer and the Restorer, we have HIS Spirit indwelling  us as born again children of the LIVING ELOHIM and we are to reflect HIS character and nature; that of restorers and repairers. It comes from denying self, picking up our cross and following HIM for who HE is, according to HIS Word and not our own opinion. It is then that we will be focused on what HE wants and the good of our brothers and sisters. It is then that the generational breach will began to be repaired. The division of the body along the lines of age groups is rooted in selfishness and isolationism. Each group wants it their way without the encumbrance of the other groups. Parents want to pass their children off to the youth leader and the kids don’t want the “old man” ways in their modern, “more relevant” expression of themselves, and it goes on from there.

  • HE – Messiah – ultimately does the repairing and restoring but HE can only accomplish that through our submission to HIM and to one another according to the truth of HIS Scripture. The generational breach is a division of the body, and when repaired and a restoration takes place, the body as a whole is strengthened.
  • Ephesians 4:1-6: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Master, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling which you were called, with all lowliness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in the hope of your calling; one Master, one faith, one baptism; one Elohim and Father of all, and through all, and in you all.”
  • 1 Peter 5:5-6: “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to you elders. Yes and all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘Elohim resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of Yahweh, that HE may exalt you in due time.”

The conclusion of these Scriptures is clear that we can only accomplish any good thing for the Yahweh in knowing and applying HIS Word – the entirety of HIS Word –from Genesis to Revelation. HIS Word does not contradict itself, because HE HIMSELF is the Living Word. HIS Word does not change because we know – from HIS Word – that HE is unchanging. So if we are to have an impact for HIM on the listener it must be in accordance with, and with the application of Scripture; for both young and old. The body of Messiah only functions when it is not divided, but is united in the truth of HIS Scriptures.

According to Malachi 4 HIS Scriptures tells us that there is an imperative turning of “the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” There is the necessity of honoring Messiah by humbly submitting to HIM and to one another according to HIS Scripture. There is, however, an emphasis put on the submission of youth to their elders. Why? It is because of the innate rebellion in people and especially in the young. By nature we are not submissive people. Our flesh will not submit to anyone. When we are born as a child into this world, and begin to grow, the first area we have to learn to submit in is to our parents; specifically our fathers. When a young person does not learn to be submissive to their earthly father they find it very difficult to submit to the Heavenly Father, let alone those elders they will find in authority over them in the Assembly. Submission to authority is a requirement of Elohim.
We will never be submitted to HIS authority if we are not submitted to the authority of parents and elders. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, says the Scriptures, and those who practice it will not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh (Galatians 5).

 Specific to radio ministry, where is the division and rebellion?

It is in the youth sub-culture that says that the young have to be reached on a different level with different vehicles that they alone can understand. I heard it said at the Rock Summit in Columbus, Ohio that the kids were not interested in our theology but were more interested in our passion. Right away the non-interest in theology – the study of Elohim – puts us in a position of fragmentation because unity is only found in a desire for the truth of who HE is. The non-interest in theology is rebellion against Yahweh because there is no interest in learning of HIM; according to the truth of who HE is. It is also rebellion against elders and parents who try to counsel the young to learn of Elohim, through the truth
of HIS Word, and then to apply it to their lives. Our slogan at WCVM, formerly Indiana – Michigan’s version of The Effect – was “It’s your music,” and “Your music – your mix.” We are promoting bands, and making disciples of bands. It appeals to the flesh that simply wants entertainment and is not interested in the things of Elohim. By giving the youth what they want we are fostering a divided body due to retained innate selfishness. By not presenting the truth of Elohim to address these issues and by maintaining status quo we are a part of the problem of childishness, division and rebellion.

Is our passion the most important tool we have?

According to some people involved in the youth ministry it is. I do not believe that, however. Our passion is simply an emotion. We can be passionate about many things. We can be passionately wrong. If we have a passion it must be for Yahweh, and Yahusha as HE really is, according to Scripture. Emotions will deceive us, if we let them, but the Truth of Elohim is factual and only spiritually understood; not emotionally driven. When believed and applied it will transcend emotion and bring about transformation into the image of Messiah. This accomplished will result in the emotion of love for HIM, HIS Word, and for the body, of which we are a part.

Putting away Childishness

Children are childish by nature. Left to themselves they will not grow up but will remain childish in their understanding and behavior. That childishness will be present into physical adulthood; only expressed in different forms. I once attended a men’s conference taught by Pastor Ken Graves. His focus was on little boys becoming men. I am going to borrow from his comments as I believe they are valid and pertinent to the issue at hand. He looked at 1st Corinthians 13:11. 1st Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Pastor Ken asked what was noticeably missing from this verse. The answer: adolescence.

According to Scripture there is no other stage of a person between childhood and adulthood. There is a time to grow up and to leave childish understanding and behavior behind and go on to maturity in the Messiah, according to HIS Word. The problem with the Youth Sub-culture is that it is stuck in childishness. It is driven by childish desires and appetites. It is led by childish adults who have never put away childish things. It has a childish understanding of Scripture. It represents the Good  News in a childish, selfish expression. This childish understanding and behavior is then taught by youth to other youth who gr0w up into physical adulthood and still have childish understanding and behavior. This has been happening for a few generations. Especially since the idea of a generation became defined as the next group to reach the teenage years. We now have generation X and then generation this and generation that, each with its own distinct
culture and demands of how they need to be tolerated and communicated with.

The De-evolution of Music and Society through generational rebellion

Pat Boone recorded Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill. His more mainstream production and sound softened the otherwise sexually immoral song. The result: most radio stations would play it when they wouldn’t play the same song by Fats. Pat prettied it up. That’s the way it’s been with the Christian music scene adopting the same methods and attitude of the secular rock music scene, in the past. But now it is not prettied up very much. It is very difficult, if not impossible, in some instances, to hear and see the difference between a hard rock secular band and a so-called “Christian band.” Other than not hearing swearing and songs that speak of adultery and other, as yet, unacceptable behavior for professing believers, there seems to be not much of a difference. BUT, most kids don’t listen to the lyrics – by their own admission – and they are simply hearing music performed by bands that look like and sound, and act like the ones they hear on secular radio. Of what eternal-Scriptural value is that?

The rebelliousness of youth has been an increasingly troublesome part of society for the last century. In my fifty years of life I have been a part of it and I’ve witnessed it through the last few decades. I could be described as a music lover. I am a musician. My first recollections of music were in the late 50’s and early 60’s. That puts me in the early years of rock and roll music. I remember hearing the Everly Brothers on the radio when they were just hometown boys in Kentucky. I remember when the Beatles first came on the music scene. I experienced the rise of the pshycodelic music scene of the Beatles, as they evolved, and the Rolling Stones and others. I saw the malaise of the rebellious youth (I was one of them) in the 70’s rock and roll drug and alcohol scene. It was in this era that I witnessed the overt movement toward satanic involvement in the music scene. The music, and the lyric, progressively turned more anti-Creator as the rock music scene has come into the 21st Century. Each, a phase, seemingly on a decade by decade time-frame, has reflected the further rebellion of secular youth only to be imitated in a few years by the “Christian youth.”

As the de-evolution of society – represented in pop-culture and music – rapidly increases, the more rapidly the assimilation of the  rebellious attitudes represented in music, dress, and selfishness become part of the Christian, and or Messianic youth sub-culture. It is now to the point that you can barely tell the difference. We have allowed the children to “find their own way,” and “figure it out for themselves,” and to decide how best to reach a generation of kids who are headed down a path to destruction. This flies in the face of Scripture that tells parents to teach the children in the way they should go. Children are not to be left to figure things out for themselves. They are to be submitted to authority, primarily parents, then elders, and ultimately to Yahweh and the authority of HIS written Word. The problem is that the Word is de-emphasized. Instead we have replaced it with a learning of the ways of world so that the kids and we can immerse in the pop-culture and reach youth with what we think they can understand. The result: doctrine is redefined as something other than the Word of Yahweh.

Youth are redefining doctrine

Sound Scriptural doctrine is essential in the life of a taught one of Messiah. It is what we need to be equipped for the good work that Elohim has prepared beforehand that we should walk in. Doctrine is the SET APART SCRIPTURE and is not left up to each subsequent generation to modify to fit their fads and self-invented sub-culture.

I attended the 2005 Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference in Hartford City, Indiana. One of the speakers, Chuck Lind, pastor at Calvary Chapel in Olympia, Washington, really solidified some of the things that the Yahweh was laying on my heart in the ministry of WCVM radio. He said that the professing body of Messiah has become focused on youth ministry to the point that the value and ministry of the older brothers and sisters in the church has been set aside. His question, “Why are we letting the youth define our doctrine?” His emphasis was in the music that is produced by youth, but his point encompassed all aspects of the youth ministry. Specific to music he quoted lyrics from “Big House” by Audio Adrenaline and some praise chorus. It hit home! He’s right!

Audio A was a “Christian” youth band several years ago, but then they are more the mainstream and the music they produced then was more defining the doctrine of the modern “church.” It is very flesh oriented and barely contains Scriptural doctrine, if at all. Doctrine is Scripture, according to 2nd Timothy, and Scripture is seldom found in songs and in the messages presented at youth concerts, events, or on the air. Keep in mind that the kids who are producing the newest wave of youth oriented “Christian” music are the future leaders of the professing body of Messiah. They will be the ones who teach doctrine and lead the professing believers in seeking Yahweh and HIS righteousness. Is it not the responsibility of parents and those in leadership positions – elders – to be teaching them Scriptural
doctrine? And isn’t that  doctrine to include children honoring and obeying parents, submitting to elders, putting away childishness, submitting to Elohim, and following HIM?

Where is the youth ministry now?

The goal now, according the Christian rock label and radio people is to make the young Christian bands more “street credible” by looking and sounding more like the secular bands. The same tattooed, pierced bodies, dressed in the same seemingly dirty, ill fitting clothes, and duct taped or masking taped eyeglasses, greased up and or uncombed (and sometimes unwashed) hair is the representation of what a young Christian should Biblical Youth Ministry look like. They look and act like a rebellious street punk. But I thought we were to be salt and light and by our following Messiah we would be showing the people a better way than what they are currently living in the world. Aren’t we to be new creations in Messiah? Yes it is an inward thing, but there is to be a transformation that becomes obvious on the external, because of the internal change. The aforementioned characterization of young professing believers is born of childish thinking and attitudes that are not jettisoned, as a child enters into adulthood. This, fueled with the sin-nature of rebellion, worsens in each successive generation.

What will it take for Scriptural change?

In order for this to change there has to be a turning of” “the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” There has to be a “putting away of childish things” and a growing into spiritual adulthood. This cannot happen in our current expression of reaching youth for Messiah and subsequent discipleship. Parents and elders need to be leading young people, not into more childishness, but into mature, spiritually taught ones of Messiah. Children need to be submitted to parents and elders; to learn of Yahweh and apply HIS Word, and grow. It is incumbent upon parents, youth leaders, and elders to know Scripture, apply it to their rearing of children, and teach it to the young. We will not look like the rebellious world if we do that. Looking like the world is more than just clothes! It is the rebellion against Yahweh and against authority that is evident is what is said and what is done. If we are in Messiah, truly, and have a received a love for the Truth, we will be different. Our lifestyle, submitted to HIM and HIS Word, will produce something that will be a welcome sight in the eyes of those who want a change, and a foolish sight to those who want to remain in their childish rebellion to Elohim.

Honor and Obedience

Ephesians 6:1-4: “Children, obey your parents in the Messiah, for this is right. ‘Honor you father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of Yahweh.” Children honor their parents by submitting in humble obedience to them. It is a commandment of the Yahweh Elohim from HIS Set Apart Scriptures. You can find these verses of, quoted in Ephesians by Paul, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.

Submitting to parents (I’m not talking of parents who are telling their kids to do Lawless things) is submitting to Yahweh. HE gave us the commandment to do so. That commandment comes with a promise of long life. If we love our children we will train them and admonish them in Yahweh and not be satisfied to leave them in childish rebellion. Children are by nature rebellious. It is up to parents and elders to not cater to their childishness but to train them to put off childishness. Children need to be taught to submit. They need to know Yahweh to truly do it. Faith comes by hearing the Word of Elohim. That is why we must teach them the whole counsel of Yahweh Elohim. In their childish understanding and expression they cannot lead un-saved children to Messiah, or disciple them in the Yahweh Elohim, or keep themselves from the sin that is lurking around every corner. It is up to us, whether they like it or not! We need to foster youth inclusion in adult activities in the body, where appropriate. We need to encourage youth to minister alongside adults in a submitted, learning role. In radio broadcasting we need to present this message on the air in a way that speaks to parents, youth leaders, pastors, and youth of all ages. The music and message must be compatible with reaching all ages in the family. Our focus needs to be on family, the body of Messiah, and Scriptural truth, not just on youth. This will be a factor in repairing the breach and restoring the body to a Scripturally accurate reflection and expression.

 

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