Running head: YOUTH MINISTRY YESTERDAY AND TODAY Youth Ministry Yesterday and Today Melonie Johnson Grand Canyon University Issues in Contemporary Youth Ministry MIN476 May 06, 2010 Youth Ministry Yesterday and Today Youth ministry is not the same today as it was yesterday. Starting out originally for the sole purpose of teaching youth to read the Bible, it has evolved into a ministry for teaching youth a lifestyle for Christ. Although the mission is to develop disciples for Christ, youth pastors seem to be losing many youth to the ways of the world.
In New England people wanted to start educating their children, and change their sinful nature (Senter, 2010, p. 5). Sunday school started hundreds of years ago, before child labor laws. Children were working during the week, and on Sundays they were not doing anything productive and people were worried (Senter, p. 7). The pastors at the church generally treated youth no differently than they did adults (Senter, p. 8). Many parents did not want their children to attend the Sunday school for fear of persecution (Senter, p. 5). This is how Sunday school started, and originally it was establish to teach youth the skills of reading the Bible.
During the early 19th century, adults wanted to establish Bible lessons to keep youth out of trouble, and this evolved into youth having their own church service separate from adults (Senter). Pastors began to treat the youth as young adults, but not equal to adults (Senter). One current trend in some churches is having the youth in the same group as adults for part of the time, and then separate for the other part of the lesson. Youth leaders today are very active in youth ministry and the youth are still allowed to behave like you, rather than part of the working force.
Whether in a separate youth church, or following a newer model of attending church with adults, many youth are not continuing this lifestyle for the long-term. Hundreds of years ago youth ministry may have been developed to teach kids how to read the Bible, and to keep them out of trouble, today youth Ministry has a mission to develop disciple for Christ. The Christian youth of today are to understand the Bible, have a relationship with Christ, and to evangelize. Many youth ministries are succeeding while the youth are in high school, and after they graduate they are falling off track (Bryant, 2008).
According to Pastor Dawn Bryant, the attendance of youth starts to fall after each grade. There are more freshmen then sophomores, and less sophomores then juniors, and seniors are the least likely to attend (Bryant) Overall, after graduation it just dwindles. The secular world just lures the youth to them, and it seems more appealing to the teenage mind then Christianity. Your ministry may have some of the same motives it did 300 hundred years ago, but today we are working at digging deeper and changing the life of youth. We don’t just want to change their life for four years, but for eternity.
Our mission should not be to have a mega church of youth, but to have a church that has numbers that stay for the long haul. It is true that many of the passionate youth we may work with today may disappear, and not choose to follow Christ in the future. Even though God has called many of us to continue the mission of making disciple of our youth, and some may go astray, but the mission will continue. References Bryant, D. (2008). The Failure of Youth. Retrieved May 7, 2010, from http://donbryant. wordpress. com Senter, M. H. (2010). When God Shows Up: A History of Protestant Youth Ministry in America. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academics .