Mark Wingfield, a Texas minister, has written a very informative column for the “Baptist Reflector” on the challenges facing youth ministers in American churches. From a culture of consumerism to permissive parents, the challenges are greater than ever, he says. Here is a brief excerpt. The full story is available from the link at the end.
(1) Peer groups hold the greatest sway. There’s nothing new in the fact that teenagers want to be around their friends. What is new is the degree to which this crowd-sourcing goes unchallenged by parents who want, above all, for their kids to be happy. We’re seeing this happen now as early as fifth grade. One of the dangers here is not helping teenagers learn to make friends where they are or learn to adapt to the environments in which they are placed with their families. Adaptation is an important life skill. (2) Theology doesn’t seem to matter. People too often today choose churches based on aesthetic or feel-good factors and fail to account for differences in theology. While perhaps not essential to salvation, these differences are real and have consequences for the future. What pastors and youth leaders see as important distinctives in theology and pedagogy simply don’t register as important with parents.