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Youth Groups Driving Christian Teens To Abandon Faith

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Youth Groups Driving Christian Teens to Abandon Faith


A new study might reveal why a majority of Christian teens abandon their faith upon high school graduation. Some time ago, Christian pollster George Barna documented that 61 percent of today's 20-somethings who had been churched at one point during their teen years are now spiritually disengaged. They do not attend church, read their Bible or pray.


According to a new five-week, three-question national survey sponsored by the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC), the youth group itself is the problem. Fifty-five percent of American Christians are concerned with modern youth ministry because it's too shallow and too entertainment-focused, resulting in an inability to train mature believers. But even if church youth groups had the gravitas of Dallas Theological Seminary, 36 percent of today's believers are convinced youth groups themselves are not even biblical.


After answering three questions at YouthGroupSurvey.com, each survey participant received NCFIC Director Scott Brown's e-book entitled Weed in the Church: How A Culture of Age Segregation Is Destroying the Younger Generation, Fragmenting the Family and Harming Church as well as access to a 50-minute-long documentary entitled Divided: Is Modern Youth Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church? (Divided has been viewed by 200,000 people.)

The survey is still active online through Friday, Nov. 8.


Adam McManus, a spokesman for NCFIC, is not surprised by the church's deep concerns about youth groups


"Today's church has created peer dependency," McManus says. "The inherent result of youth groups is that teenagers in the church are focused on their peers, not their parents or their pastors. It's a foreign sociology that leads to immaturity, a greater likelihood of sexual activity, drug experimentation and a rejection of the authority of the Word of God.


"Proverbs 13:20 says, 'He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.' The result is that the youth stumble, they can't see beyond their noses, and spiritual adolescence is prolonged well into adulthood. It's crippling the body of Christ. That's why it's time to return to the biblical paradigm and throw out the youth group structure entirely."


He continues, "I am greatly encouraged by the results of our survey. American Christians are finally waking up to the disconnect between the clear teaching in Scripture in favor of family-integration and the modern-day church's obsession with dividing the family at every turn. Age segregation, especially during the tender and impactful teenage years, not only hasn't worked, it's been detrimental. Even worse, it is contrary to the Bible. But the good news is that practices in the churches related to youth groups are changing dramatically. Twenty years ago no one was even asking this question."


McManus cited the following Scriptures to document his contention that it's God's will for the church to embrace the biblical model of families staying together in the service as the Word of God is preached: Deuteronomy 16:9-14, Joshua 8:34-35, Ezra 10:1, 2 Chronicles 20:13, Nehemiah 12:43 and Joel 2:15-16.


"Our fervent prayer is that God will raise up Spirit-filled, Bible-preaching, Christ-centered, family-integrated assemblies from the ashes of our man-centered, family-fragmenting churches," McManus adds. "Plus, the church needs to begin to equip Christian fathers to communicate the gospel to their families. Today, Christian parents are beginning to realize that they have not fulfilled their spiritual duties by simply dropping off their kiddos to Sunday school and youth group, allowing other parents to disciple their children by proxy.


"Let's not forget the powerful words spoken by Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4-7: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.'


"It is the parents' primary obligation to disciple their own children, impressing God's commandments upon them in the home on a daily basis."


Cameron Cole, youth director at Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Ala., says, "There is a propensity in our culture to outsource the development of our children. For intellectual development, we send them to school. For athletic development, we send them to Little League. And for spiritual formation, we send them to youth group. The church has done a poor job of communicating to the parents that they are the primary disciplers of their children. Parents don't believe this, but the reality is that kids listen to their parents far more than they're going to listen to a youth minister."


"It's time for the Christian father to take the central role which God has ordained," McManus concludes. "Gathered around the dining room table, the father needs to lead family worship once again, which had been standard behavior for a vibrant American Christian family for hundreds of years, dating back to the Plymouth, Mass., colony of 1620. Dad needs to read from and discuss the Bible, sing Christian songs and pray with his family, his little flock over which God has appointed him shepherd. Frankly, I'm not as concerned about what happens in Sunday school in church as I am with what happens in 'Monday school' and 'Tuesday school' at home with the family."



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"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." Amen to that!

As I see my sister's grand-children attending a modern Southern Baptist church that is segregated in such a fashion I can say that this business of seperating the children from the adults is a great error.  But I will shutup because God said it better.


God bless,


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I've often wondered how the mature men in Christ, and the mature women in Christ, are supposed to disciple the younger men and women (girls/boys/youth) when so often they are separated into various children's groups, two or three youth groups, seniors group, men's group, women's group, divorced group, singles group, etc.


Some of these things, properly managed, can be helpful, but we propagate the bad things of the world within the church by too much separating based upon age and other factors which perpetuates the problems of generational divides and other matters of contention and barriers.

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With the exception of the very young, like, babies, for whom we have a cry-room, where parents can take them, and still hear the lesson over a speaker, we don't separate anyone at this point. We haven't had a kid's sunday school for a few years now, and the amazing thing to me is how the kids often seem to do a pretty good job of getting it. I think we do a great disservice to kids by shuttling them off to color pictures and glue popsicle sticks together, when they are at the best age to really learn when they are young.

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When I was a child, my church only had youth groups during Sunday morning services.  My sisters and I had to be in the main congregation on Sunday and Wednesday nights.  But that was ok seeing we were the only 3 kids in church on WEdnesdays and most the times on Sunday nights, so not much need for kid services, occassionally the pastor would have his kids in church on Sunday night not many others would. 

Most the messages from my youth that I remember came from being with the adults.  I hardly remember anything from children church.  We sang alot and had a deacon come in to deliver a short message, but I don't remember the content all that well.  On Sunday mornings there were at least 50-100 kids.  Like I mentioned, usually only 3 on Sunday and Wed nights.  I get a little irritated at the older folk in church now.  I see them for 3 services now that their kids are out of the house, but they only went to 1 service while the kids were home.  Just don't make sense. 

I have been paying close attention to this problem for decades now because I have witnessed it since my youth.  I actually noticed it when I was still rather young and it confused me then too.  So needless to say, I have never cared too much for children churchs but never really had Scripture to back it up.  I did find a sermon on the internet that I liked that, for the most part, explains my beliefs.  I will provide the link, but that doesn't mean I am endorsing this pastor.  I just don't know enough about a man living clear across the country that I have never talked to. 


Edited by robmac68

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We never ad children's church, i never heard of children's church until just a few years back.


During part of my youth we have man adults & children in our church. We had Sunday school, & it was divided into age groups, yet everyone set in the pews during preaching services. And all went well.


During one time period we had youth fellowship meeting on one Thursday every month, & it was held at a different church every mouth. Its purpose was help the youth to become church leaders in the future.


Oh, in our Sunday school it was not about playing, it was all about learning about our Lord. If we got our lesson covered & had a few minutes left, I recall one teacher would let us play the quite game, & that was the only playing I remember. There was no coloring pictures, cutting out pictures, we had real Bible study classes, both morning & evening.


Our Wednesday night services were mostly prayer meeting, & the pastors would give a short sermon. This service never did last very long. We were country people, & in those days most country people would get up at day break if not before, plus most school age children had homework from school that needed to be done. And they did not always have time to get it done between the time they got home & time to head to church. For most children had chores that had to be done.


Its a shame, today's children needs chores very bad, it teaches them responsibility instead of running the streets & getting in trouble.

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I first heard of "children's church" a few years ago. I don't know when or where that started. When I was a child there was Sunday school that was age divided, but otherwise everyone was in the sanctuary for services.


Chores??? What's that? (This is the response many children/youth have today) Either that or say, "No way, I'm not doing chores!!" and their parents go along with that.


Unfortunately my own sister is like that. Over the years I've heard her complain so many times about all the work to do in and around the house and I would remind her she had 2 or 3 children she could have doing some of that. She would always respond that they won't do that and she wouldn't make them anyway. To which I would respond that's her choice so she shouldn't complain about having to do all the dishes, clean the house and such by herself.


Myself, I was "mean" because my children have had chores to do since the time they were capable of doing something on their own. Early on I taught them to clean up after themselves, put their own dishes, cereal box or whatever away, take care of their own clothes, put their toys away and such. As they got older different chores were added in, whether it be washing dishes, vacuuming the floor, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash...


Some parents wonder why their children don't want to move out or want to hang around there even after they do. Why wouldn't they! They can eat and drink all they want, watch TV and do nothing. Then tell (yes, tell, not ask) their mom they to give them some gas money so they can go drive in the car mom bought for them.


We certainly need some biblical based management in our homes as well as in our churches.

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Our children do chores around the house.  Even our youngest can cook a delicious egg breakfast and make lunches and some dinners too and she just turned eight (been cooking since 5).  When I was too sick to do them myself, they were taught to mow the lawn, change the oil, brakes, hub, shocks, tires, fix flats, etc. on the car too.  And we have three young ladies!  My old neighbor next door had two boys who did little around the house.  One day their Mom came over and hired my oldest daughter to mow her yard!  She did!  Those boys should have been ashamed and NEVER let that happen, no, but they did not come outside for several days afterwards neither! 

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Sad, most youths today thinks its mistreatment for them to have chores & or to work for their spending money. For most feel that there's nothing that should interfere with their pleasures of life.


I''m amazed when I see the record of myself paying in Social Security taxes. I never missed a year since I reached sixteen years of age. Of course I worked 2 full summers before that for two different men who had small peach orchards. After I reached sixteen I wanted to make more money than i would working in the peaches so each summer I worked catching chickens. Many nights we would put in 12 or more hours & the dollars would add up when pay day came, especially for a young boy my age.


Mother did not want me to work, I was her baby, but father told her, If Jerry wants to work let him, & I wanted to so that I would l have my own money, so mother came to agreement with father so at 14 I had my 1st paying job.


My first job was in our small country store stocking the shelves & waiting on customers, slopping our hogs, & carrying out the trash & hauling it off, mowing our yard, but of course none of that put any money in my pockets.

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