Saturday, February 18, 2006

the 4th commandment of youth ministry

thou shalt never offend with the truth

Now I know a good many folks would disagree with me on this being a commandment most do not want to break but bear with me. My point is not that youth minsiters struggle with outright lying to their kids. Thats not the kind of truth I am talking about. I am talking about truth that offends students. I am talking about truth which makes kids not want to come back.

Even in my own denomination there can be a reluctance to teaching kids the deep things of God. I am in the PCA, a Reformed, Calvinist and theologically conservative denomination. And there is no question that youth guys like myself still have to worry about whether or not we will teach the 5 points of Calvinism or not. Now regardless of whether you believe in the 5 points or not it should strike us as odd that we have to check ourselves on whether or not we should teach a doctrine that can be so offensive but is a peculiar one to our denomination. I mean, we believe it as a denomination. You cannot be ordained and not believe it. But the fact of the matter is that because it is very offensive to members and visitors alike we are to question the wisdom of teaching it as truth. Thankfully, no one here in my church thinks this way. We have a whole hell of lot of problems here but this is thankfully not one of them...emphasis on hell. We are theologically kosher for the time being. But others are not so safe. Some want to be confessinally secure but be very a-theological in public. In other words they are Evangelical with a capital E but reformed with a lower-case r.

But regardless of your denomination, we preach a very offensive gospel. We preach a gospel that says apart from Christ, you will preish in your sins. In your sin you have stuck a fist in God's face said, "I do not need you, you son-of-a-..." It is a gospel that places all hope for eternity in the cross. It is a gospel that steals all glory from man and gives %100 to God. It is a gospel that sometimes says, '...who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?' (Romans 9:20,21 ESV) To not be offensive is to erase the gospel message. You might as well start teaching from Chicken Soup for the Soul.

How do I break this commandment?

The best defense is to be offensive. If you tell the whole offensive truth of the message of the Bible in all its ugly and challenging details it will inevitably take care of a whole host of problems. First it, will keep you interesting. Kids never choose generic anything unless they have to. Give 'em the whole truth and watch the hands go up. Truth is stranger and more interesting than fiction. Second, I am convinced that orthodoxy is the fuel for a life of holiness. If all you give them is teaching that is mile wide and an inch deep in truth then expect the same in holiness. Third, it will keep them in the Scriptures even when you are not around. Until I got to the subject of predestination in Romans, I was not convinced that many of my kids ever cracked their Bibles while at home. But, when we started on such an explosive doctrine, they began coming to me saying things like, "I was reading my Bible and..." And that my friends is better then wine.

"You can't handle the Truth." And it's not because of a "faggoty white uniform." There are some kids that will be like dead wood that falls away when brushed up against the sharp edge of the rocks in life's stormy waters. They can't handle the sight of reality. It smells like death to them so they will stay away. And if they want a be part of a youth ministry it will probably be one that will help them feel nice and warm inside...again chicken soup for a lost soul. But there are kids that thrist for a bit of relaity. They look forward to the truth becuase it is way more rebellious than any lie they have ever told.

I tell the students I work with that "Truth is more fierce than any enemy you will face...just do not make it your enemy. Be on the side of truth." If you can get them to seek truth. The Bible will be like a diamond-mind of verities. And that's no lie.

No comments: