Steve Wright - Raleigh, NC
1. My Journey
A college teammate led me to Christ. Didn’t have a clue what youth ministry was when I accepted my first job. A Youth Specialties clip art book helped determine his schedule. It was very activity driven. I began to do ministry in my own strength, with a great deal of pride. In this process, a question came to mind: “Are all these activities working – and are they biblical?”
Five troubling indicators regarding the next generation:
1. Retention- why are we losing teenagers between the ages of 18 and 21
2. Career – why are all those called to youth ministry not lasting?
a. 33% were leaving annually
b. If we aren’t staying to task for a long length of time, something’s not right.
c. High stress, low status, low pay, staff relations poor, high turnover
d. Not for faint of heart.
Alvin Reid: “Over the preceding twenty years, the number of full-time youth pastors has grown dramatically…meanwhile, during that same time span, the numbers of young people won to Christ dropped at about as fast a rate.”
4. Biblical Literacy
Soul Searching: “Scholars who have looked at young Christians say their spiritual drift is in part the result of a lack of knowledge about their faith. Therefore, they really don’t know what they believe.” – Christian Smith
5. My Personal Struggle
What about the next generation of Wrights? Will my kids continue with Christ, treasure Christ above all else?
2. Turning Point
One of the things I became convinced of: God had given parents the primary role of discipling their children. It is hard to compel kids to treasure Christ above all else, when many of their parents treasured all else above Christ. I was building a ministry model that allowed parents to abdicate their role.
3. Where Should I Start?
I had no plan of action for discipleship in my own family. Truth was: I was teaching my children to value recreation, sports, games, all other kinds of treasures above Christ. That is what I was modeling for my kids. Asked his kids: “What are we treasuring and what should we treasure?” Humility. My kids were hungry for this. Other students are hungry for this. Parents are hearing this and getting inspired.
a. It needs to look a lot like it did for Nehemiah. He saw the city in ruins. He had compassion – he prayed and fasted. As leaders, we have to have the same burden. We need a passion for our families. They need Christ.
b. We need to look to biblical theology. How is God’s Word leading us? If we aren’t turning to Scripture – where else are we going to turn? Corporate models? Disney? More spinning plates? Secular books? The treasure is beautiful. We do not need to glamorize it or have big drums to support it.
c. Start in your home.
John Angell James: “Here fix your center, here direct your aim, here concentrate your efforts, your energies and your prayers. Remember their religious education is your business. Whatever aids you call in from ministers or teachers, you never must, you never can, you never should delegate this work. God will hold you responsible for the religion of your children – so far as means go.”
See the gospel as the greatest thing. That God gets bigger, when the work of the Spirit gets mightier, when grace is more, when sin is uglier, when gospel roots go down deeper, when eternity gets louder. Keep this in mind: never let the gospel get smaller in your hearts.