The need for revival and renaissance in Youth Ministry

Last night I went to a Percussion Ensemble (a type of band concert) at Poteet High School.  My son is a member of the percussion section of the concert band there—a fine band to be sure in a school where the Band program is one of the finest in the State of Texas.  As good as the concert was, there was something else that grabbed my attention and affected me more last night: namely, the lack of a Christian worldview/influence in that school, and especially the complete loss of the Youth Ministry last year because of the coronavirus.  While COVID-19 was a prime problem, it was not the only tool of the devil last year.  Satan had a field day with the riots, political intrigues, and social upheavals that took place last year.  What I saw yesterday in the school was that leftist, liberal, antichristian influence had (and has) no counter at Poteet High.

I turned into the hallway that goes to the cafeteria, and on the right side is the school clinic (nurse’s offices) which is adjacent to the room where the Theatre Arts stage is located.  On the door are the diatribes of the teacher of that subject, and it went something like this:  “No nuts allowed”, “Black Lives Matter”, “Woman’s Rights Matter” (she may get scared of this one when the transgender issue gets hot!), “No human is illegal”, “No Haters allowed” (I wonder if she realizes the irony).  On and on it went.  And then it included her theater credentials.  She possesses an undergraduate degree and two graduate degrees, all related to various aspects of theater arts (acting, stage direction, set creation), from a couple of universities in California and one from Texas.  And on and on it went.

In the concert itself, the percussion teacher wanted to honor the members of his senior group from the class of 2020 who had been denied their final concert experience because of COVID last year—and they did a very fine performance—probably the best in the night.  But I could not miss one particular performer in this group: a round, white girl with a buzz haircut, with a sleeveless black outfit and gray tennis shoes who was very much the loud poster child of the LGBTQ—with a rainbow mask included.

Now, before anyone accuses me of being a curmudgeon, let me say that I went to public all my young life, and I graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film. I know what it is to sit beside people who are the antagonist of everything I believe in, and from them I learned what the Bible means when it says in Hebrews 11 that the “pleasures of sin” are only for a season.

Therefore, not this girl, nor the theater arts door, is a shock to me.   The difference is that I have a vested interest, namely my son, in this high school (and in a couple of years my daughter as well—and she’s already seeing things in her elementary school experience!) and I began to wonder, will we ever have a chance to counter attack?

You see, Poteet High School, like many high schools in Texas (and in other parts of the United States) is very much dominated by a liberal politics worldview, particularly in the subjects of English Literature, History, and Government.  The teachers at Poteet have become dogmatic to the point that they are nothing more than ideologues and academicians for the political left who will tolerate no dissenting idea in the name of “not tolerating hatred” (according to the theater arts teacher at Poteet).  By the way, what is considered “hatred”?

I went to a couple of the high school’s football games in the fall, after the election, and to my disgust, the team was still kneeling during the National Anthem—in front of the ROTC honor guard.  My son later related to me that in his home room class (his English class) , his teacher regularly encouraged the disdain for the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance; anything and everything that would be loved and appreciated by most people in this nation.  Indoctrination, not education is what is going on.  The public education system is not going to get better, and these kids are going to find out rather quickly what Charles Osgood mentioned in his poem about a “Pretty Good Country”—namely “what they were missing”—in this context, that there are consequences to believing stupid fantasies, it will be too late.  By that time it will be impossible to capture the freedoms that were lost and the commonsense which was trashed.  The world will not get better, and chances are there will be the specter of victims which society will try to wipe away from their memory but will be unable to, and instead the cry will be for a “savior”.

My main problem last night was that there seemed to be no counterattack.  I do not think there are any teachers who offer a different perspective, a different voice whatsoever.  A couple of months ago, one gentleman came by the Church pushing the idea of an official Bible Course Elective in the Mesquite Independent School District High School, which is a good idea, but there apparently were not enough families in local churches who were interested in making the idea possible in the next academic year.  I think the next best idea would be to have some kind of club similar to the Young American Foundation and Chi Alpha in college, but within the bounds of high school where thought-provoking questions can be asked, and answers can be searched out from a Biblical perspective.

I do not think many folks in our churches realize how precarious our position is with regards to our youth.  Unless you ask the right questions and look at important signs directly, you will not even realize there is a problem.  After all, most of our people are looking only at school or college grades and promotions, and not necessarily at Spiritual health.  From what I have seen, our young people seemed bored with Church as a whole, and this is not something only addressed with changes in music styles or the addition of “fun” programs (in fact, the Hillsong churches are finding that particular point out the hard way.)  We are beyond that now.  With the secular inundation they have to put up with every day, is Church relevant to them anymore?

There was a time in this country we would not dare to let interest groups decide our moral stances, particularly if they were connected to the entertainment industry.  But now that has changed.  Dogmatically, BLM gets churches and leaders to buy into the garbage of Critical Race Theory.  Several faith leaders have accepted the idea that the white race in “inherently evil” without even bothering to check if such an idea is scriptural.  For those of you who do not know, Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned…”, in other words, every race is inherently evil and, and has the capacity of great evil!  If the Cross of Calvary is not the solution to the problem of Sin (every sin—even racism and bigotry) then there will be no answer!

Dogmatically, global warming and environmentalism is pushed with the idea of “saving the planet”—by people who cannot get off their cell phones or cannot resist getting the next upgrade!  Dogmatically, the idea of open borders, no walls, and “no human is illegal” is bandied about  without the slightest second thought—by people who live in gated communities and high security and have no clue that human and narcotics trafficking is one of the worst tragedies of our time, with the greatest toll of the youngest of victims.  Dogmatically, the agenda of the LGBTQ is pushed on the youngest of children—by people who in the near future will legitimize pedophilia.  All of this happens without any chance to respond or counter, so what should be done this summer?

First of all, we must have a time of serious intercessory prayer with the purpose of asking God to move upon the hearts and minds of our youth INSIDE THE CHURCH.  John the Baptist told the Jewish people of his time that when the Messiah (the Lord Jesus) comes, He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers.  In praying for our youth, our children, we position ourselves where God wants us as parents and grown-ups to be; as a conduit through which His plan, purpose, blessing, and anointing can flow.  God will position the children to be the recipients, and with this comes a true divine connection.  To the adults I say, to position yourselves in God’s purpose requires a lot of soul searching, spiritual discernment, and spiritual awareness.  The destructions and the destructive patterns we see around us today (and I hope I am talking to people who can see this) is a result of not taking God’s word seriously as adults and not teaching our youth the fear of the Lord.  When they have lost the fear of God, why should we be surprised by the situations around us, and the judgment that will fall hereafter?  In humbling ourselves according to this purpose, we acknowledge our spiritual plight and the need of God’s help now and in the future.

Secondly, we must follow Jesus’ model of choosing His disciples with regards to finding people who would be interested in engaging in Youth Ministry.  For the biggest miracle that Jesus performed (aside from His death and resurrection!), he had only 12 men to help him—namely, in the feeding of the 5000.  The Bible says that there were 5000 men in that place, but if you take into consideration the women and children (this miracle was done with the basket lunch of a child), there may have been around 20000 to 25000 people present.  The 12 disciples carried the bread and fish to them—not at all an easy task if one disciple was to feed about 2000 people.  The Lord invited these men to follow Him and He would “make them fishers of men”.  And they all responded in the affirmative (even Judas Iscariot), as did 70 other men later.  Each one of them was going to be inconvenienced by their decision.  Peter, Andrew, James, and John would give up their fishing business.  Matthew would lose his job as a tax collector.  Simon the Zealot would certainly lose a lot of his friends and family following the person who says “Love you enemies” and “Bless those who curse you”.  All the disciples would be inconvenienced and it was to these men that Jesus said, “the fields are white unto are harvest, pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into the field.”  But they still followed Him, and later they would have a front row seat to the glory of God that was revealed.  It is no less true with sunday school and youth ministry, and it must be the pattern that we follow.  We must pray that people who hear the call of God regarding this ministry will respond to it.

We can have the actual activity of VBS, but if we have not connected with the hearts of the children and youth who are come, what is the point?  Some years ago, I saw this firsthand with a young “pastor”.  He was not only young, but supposedly “had a heart for ministry” and had actually achieved outstanding degrees from seminary.  And yet he did not know about ministry.  He could give a well-thought out lecture, and yet not connect with his audience.  Worst of all, this problem revealed itself in a classroom filled with youth in a VBS.  He was asked to play a video and connect the theme of the day with the students who were watching (all in elementary school).  Half an hour later when I came back to the classroom, the kids were in there clowning around; he had in essence abandoned them (in fact he had left the campus to go do something else, somewhere else).  That is not the type of person that can do this ministry (or any ministry).  No matter how small the number may be, may God give us people who have His love in their hearts to know how to minister to the “least of us”, effectively.

Third, taking a realistic appraisal of everything, we will have to start small, and with whatever we have at hand.  Most of the public schools in the state of Texas have been open for the better part of the year, with very few COVID cases affecting the millions of children in the state of Texas.  COVID restrictions as well as mask mandates have been relaxed or lifted in Texas, Florida, and other parts of the United States, but that does not mean that church attendance of participation will return to pre-COVID “normal”.  Youth ministry is one area where the proverbial “hinge” can turn either direction.  There are a lot of children who will be idle throughout the summer and yet at the same time, it is a risk having a large-scale Vacation Bible School when we lack the personnel to actually work such an event.  But we can restart our Sunday School ministry during the weekdays.  Parents who want to get their children out of the house for a couple of hours can do so, and churches can engage in a program like “Beach Club”—a Bible study ministry that is being sponsored by the Southern Baptists Convention in many elementary schools throughout the United States.  The advantage of this ministry is that it can have one person (someone with some talent and initiative) and either a big or small group of kids.  The whole point is to touch the hearts of children who need the influence of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, and I believe that we can do that.  It does not have to be so complicated or detailed but rather with grace and love and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Who knows what we could do?  But we must try.

In closing, a few weeks ago, I taught and preached from a story that spans five of the books in the Old Testament: the return of the people of Israel from the Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the Temple and the City of Jerusalem (Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah).  Daniel echoed what Jeremiah and Ezekiel said about the people returning, but he also revealed two prophetic markers with regards to the Jewish people’s future and the Messiah (the Temple and the city of Jerusalem).  The Jewish people returned, but the Bible tells us that it was a small minority of the Jewish diaspora that returned and out of that group, there was an even smaller number of people who felt any compulsion whatsoever to rebuild the Temple and the walls of the city of Jerusalem. But it had to be done because God had a plan—not just for Israel but also for this world.  And that is why two prophetic utterances from the prophets Haggai and Zechariah are worth remembering:  “Not by power or by might, but my Spirit says the Lord of Host!”  “The latter glory of this House will be greater than the former” (a prophetic word given when some of the people looked down at Zerubbabel’s temple as nothing compared to the Temple of Solomon).

May God give us people like Nehemiah who will read this article, or see the things which has been witnessed by the author and be moved to do something for the Kingdom of God with regards to youth ministry.  Our future as a Church demands it.