Daily Archives: November 8, 2007

Better Youth Ministry? Try the Mormons

Greg Stier recently wrote an article on Youthministry.com titled, Why Mormons Do Better Youth Ministry Than We Do.  It brought up some great points. I have often been amazed at the commitment of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness, and the like.

Stier’s article can be read at http://www.youthministry.com/?q=node/5296

Stier wrote, “Mormons expect a lot out of their teenagers. We don’t. Mormons ordain their young men into the ministry at the age of twelve. We don’t. Mormons require their teens to attend seminary every day of high school. We don’t.Mormons ask for two years in the field of every graduating senior. We don’t.”

He further commented, “Maybe that’s why we don’t meet a lot of ex-Mormons, while there are hundreds of thousands of former church attendees in the true church of Jesus Christ (of everyday saints) who flee the church after graduating from high school.
Maybe that’s why Mormons give more, work harder and are exploding as a religion.”

Many Christian student graduate from high school and go off to college for a good time. Mormons take two years to witness door-to-door as a missionary. They have figured out what they believe by training and interaction with non-believers. Many of our students don’t know what they believe or even why they believe what they do believe.

I agree with Greg Stier that we are hesitant to challenge our students in mainline churches. We don’t wont to press them too hard for fear of making them run away. But maybe this has backfired? Many of the students leave the church after high school.

There is one big difference between protestant Christians and Mormons. They believe in a works-based to salvation, which is one of the prime motivations for all their good works and hard effort. That may explain why so

The proper Christian motivation comes when we realize our sin and God’s great grace and mercy and live to please Him out of a thankful heart. While the actions should be the same, the motivations are very different. We may want to copy their zeal just not their worldview.

If we expect so little, is it any wonder that students aim so low? 

Here are some thoughts about how to raise the bar:

  • Instead of taking students on vacation-like mission trips, we should encourage and enable adolescents to go on challenging mission experiences.
  • Beyond merely standing up to pray one day at school per year, we should encourage them to lead prayer groups at school.
  • Preach/teach a God-centered worldview where we live for God and not us. This would include a strong emphasis on the Kingdom of God and what the real mission of a Christian is “to bring heaven’s rule down to earth.”
  • Instead of telling students what to think, we should teach them how to develop their own faith and be ready to defend it.
  • In a culture that is abscessed with selfish desires and momentary pleasures, older believers should model out Christian discipline and encourage teens to forego things for the cause of Christ. This calls for students to become true worshipers instead of consumers that just live for themselves.
  • Training up young people starts early in life not middle or high school. By then, they have already developed many of their personal attitudes. Parents and Christian leaders should work with young children to help them develop a love for God and desire to please Him.
  • There is a difference between teaching and entertaining. Unfortunately, we do more of the latter and not enough of the former.
  • The church and families should develop ways to challenge and inspire young people. This would include rite of passage experiences and other ways to help adolescents enter into adulthood. Many students don’t know what it means to be an adult or when they become one.
  • Student ministries must minister to families and not just students. We have to work with parents to achieve the best results. Making healthier families will go a long way in helping students grow in their faith.
  • More inter-generational ministry were older saints are mixing with students would help both groups learn to appreciate each other.
  • Creating an open culture where students can be real to express their struggles, doubts, concerns and fears.
  • One-on-one discipleship relationship with older Christians to help students overcome challenges and develop their own relationship with God.
  • Opening up opportunities for students to lead, work alongside adults and be in frontline ministry.
  • Adults have to model out the hunger, passion, devotion and discipline that we want to see in the next generation. Enough said.