Never prouder (and sadder)

I have never been more proud and more discouraged at the same time. During a Wednesday evening student ministry service the guest speaker asked the group of about 50 students (both junior high and high school) to turn in their Bibles to the text he was about to read.

There was very little activity — which prompted the speaker to say, “If you have your Bible with you hold it up.”

Only one student held up a Bible.

Then the speaker said, “If you have your cell phone with you hold it up.”

Every student held up a cell phone except one.

The speaker made the point (quite well, I thought) that we demonstrate what is most important in our lives not by what we say, but by what we do. Is it too much of an imposition to carry a Bible to church but not too much of an imposition to carry a cell phone everywhere?

What’s more important?

It was in this moment that I experienced one of my proudest and most discouraging times. The single student who held up a Bible and the single student who did not hold up a cell phone was the same student — my 14-year-old daughter.

Scripture describes believers as a “peculiar people” “set apart” from the world. In 1 Peter we learn that believers are “sojourners and exiles” in this world. We live here for now, but we are not to look like nor act like the world around us. We are different.

I was so proud to see my daughter being both peculiar and set apart in this manner — and so very discouraged that she was peculiar and set apart in a group of youth who profess Christ as Lord.

Am I saying it’s wrong to have a cell phone? No. But this little instance does make me wonder why 50 students would come to a “Bible study” and not bring their Bible. There are a couple of reasons…

  1. If Scripture is true (and it is) then the overwhelming odds are that, in a group of this size, many are present who are not regenerate. They are not Christians. As such, they have no desire to learn about the things of God.
  2. However, many Christians are present. Why didn’t they bring their Bible? Could it be that in an attempt to make student ministry “relevant” and “fun” we’ve reduced it down to something quite meaningless? Perhaps the Christians in the group have learned from experience not to expect a whole lot of Bible study at their Bible studies.

This really is an indictment against the culture of “student ministry” as a whole. Alvin Reid, a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently wrote a piece about this very thing. Here is an excerpt…

“We got relevance but we created a generation of teenagers who are a mile wide and are an inch deep. Why do so many students finish high school and drop out (actually many drop out when they get their drivers license)? Because we created a youth ministry culture that taught them to do so. We have not equipped students to be adults, who understand the gospel and live as missionaries. We created a “cool” subculture where they could be treated like the center of the universe and given a bunch of stuff. And not enough Jesus, Scripture, or character.”

Read his entire article. He outlines some wonderful ways to correct this problem. It is high time we did.

About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

3 Responses to Never prouder (and sadder)

  1. Frank says:

    Alvin Reid says in his article that we can no longer ignore the role of parents. I agree with him to a point. Unfortunately, in my experience, many of the people who most vocally demand that youth ministry be “fun” and “relevant” ARE the parents. Often times they are the very ones who will not tolerate a student minister who actually teaches God’s Word.

  2. PC Tuesday says:

    AMEN from her Mama, too.

  3. Joeyanna says:

    Had Mac been there he would have had both; cell phone only by default beacuase I never got used to carrying it with me so by giving it to him I know it will always be with use when we are out, but I digress. This post made me think of this
    which made me think of a quote from Frederick Douglass, “It’s easier to buid strong children than to repair broken men”, which brings me to scripture as my summation; Proverb 22:6 ” Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not depart from it”. Problem is, children are not being trained in THE WAY at all, not even those that attend church. I concur with Franks statement. I will close by saying I am proud of my sister.

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