The following article is a guest post from a very good friend of mine. Mark Rogers is the Student Pastor at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Kilgore, Texas.
Some parents will see this and think “What now? Are we having another lock-in? You need me to bake something? Camp, its camp isn’t it? Oh, you need my house for a D-Now weekend?” All though these are common needs in the student ministry; they are merely surface level. The core need for adult involvement with students is much deeper. What is this need? Well I’m glad you asked.
Connection, students need to feel connected to Christian adults during the developmental years of their lives. In his book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman cites that one of the main reasons students leave the church after high school is due to a lack of connection. These students never felt connected to the church at large. Oh they went on Sundays and Wednesday nights. They had fun with their friends and maybe even heard a good message. But in a lot of cases there was no one older than them that truly connected with them and made a personal investment into their lives. “Well, isn’t that what we pay the student minister to do?” Some may ask. Let’s think about this logic for a minute, or rather, lack of logic. Average youth groups range from 30-65 students. One person to connect with all of these students below surface level? Good luck with that. Not to mention that over half of these students are female. Most, not all, student ministers are male. Do you want your male minister connecting on a deeper level with your daughter? No, and neither does his wife. So we can agree that it is not practical to say that one person can make all of the connections needed by students to help them develop a firm faith in Christ.
It is not Biblical either. Look at the model set forth by Jesus Christ himself. He had twelve that were in his close group of disciples. Then, from those twelve he had three that he took even deeper. I believe Christ purposely modeled this for us. He shows us that spiritual development is both personal and relational. We have another Biblical example of the older ministering to the younger in Paul’s letter to Titus. In chapter 2 Paul tells Titus to encourage the older women to teach and encourage the younger women to be “sensible, pure, workers at home.” So we see Biblical models that, over the past few decades, the church has neglected to follow. Because of this we have several young adults that feel the church has no relevance in their lives.
Kinnaman cites that another reason young adults see no relevance for church or God in their lives is because no one modeled for them how spirituality flows into everyday life. They perceived in adults two different lives. There was the person they saw on Sunday singing hymns shaking hands and appearing to have it all together. Then there was the Monday – Saturday person who did whatever it took to get to the top. They never saw this person pray or pick up a Bible outside of Sunday morning. They heard this person tear down and destroy the competition. The smile they saw on Sundays was replaced by a determined and heartless grimace. These students have grown up seeing a compartmentalized version of Christianity. By the way, that is a non-Biblical version of Christianity. They ask, “What does being a Christian have to do with being a scientist or a banker or a lawyer?” “How will being a Christian help me with any of this?” Do you see their problem?
So what’s the solution? Sitting in pews all across America every Sunday are Christian men and women who ARE living out their faith every day in all aspects of their lives. The younger generation desperately need these men and women to come beside them, connect with them, and teach them that Christianity is relevant and needed in all aspects of life. To those of you to whom this applies, I say get out of the pew, go to your student minister, and ask him how to get connected. Our students need you!