Where Student Ministry Fails

December 22, 2010

I just finished the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  It is filled with stories about why successful people become successful.

Every story of success in Gladwell’s work has one thing in common.  Each of them has, when an opportunity comes, at least 10,000 hours of work in whatever field they become successful in (for instance, Bill Gates, when the personal computer craze started and the Beatles, when rock n roll emerged).

The goal of student ministry has always been to give a student a firm foundation in the Word so that when he/she graduates from high school and faces the challenges of the real world, they will not stray from Christ.  Lets us impose Gladwell’s theory of 10,000 hours equaling success to the number of hours it takes for a student to have a “firm foundation” in Christ.  If a student, from birth until eighteen, is to spends four hours at church a week (a very generous number), the number of hours they accumulate is 3744 (dreadfully short of the 10,000 required).  This leads me to several conclusions . . .

  1. It is no wonder the statistics of students falling away after high school are so high. There are all kinds of numbers for this, but I have heard it as low as 4% and as high as 12% of students who graduate from high school actually hold onto the faith.  If a church’s only offering to them is a few Bible studies a week, the student has little chance.
  2. Parents are essential. If a student’s parents are not helping to shape, mold and bring their kids up in Christ at home, away from church programs, the odds against a student are stacked against them.  The Church should encourage and empower parents as youth ministers wherever possible.
  3. The Church must encourage and teach students in how to gain insight from the Bible on their own. Leaving out the fact that the Bible is powerful and life-transforming, if we only did this to encourage them to gain more hours of experience into what it looks like to be a Christ follower, it would be worth it.
  4. Relationships which endure when a student graduates from high school will trump any Bible studies they attended. An adult who has earned the role of mentor to a student who graduates and leaves has a Kingdom responsibility to stay in that role in whatever capacity is possible.

In the battle to get my sick son to take his medicine I drew this picture of a white blood cell and a germ doing battle with light sabers inside of his stomach.

What is the dot on the “white blood cell’s” face you ask?  Well, it is a pill which makes him strong so he can kill the germ more effectively.

He took his pill.

The Highly Favored

December 16, 2010

Gabriel to Mary, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!”

“Mary was greatly troubled”; so troubled that Gabriel had to tell her again how favored she was (Luke 1:28-30).

As we know, Mary does not remain troubled.  She carries out God’s purposes for her life — become miraculously pregnant, raise a son, and ultimately, watch as the whole of mankind’s sins were thrust upon him on a crucifix.

What if she would have stayed in that troubled state?  What if she let the circumstances of the next nine months (let alone the next thirty-three years) of her life keep her afraid and nervous?

God sends us the same message as he sent Mary that day.  One example . . .

“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4).”

Can you relate with Mary?  Are there times when the circumstances of life have you “greatly troubled” making it difficult for you to pursue God’s purposes in your life?

Christ follower, you too are highly favored by God.  He calls you holy.  He calls you pure.  He calls you friend.  May God give you grace to remember his promises when troubled times come.

A Decree and a Manger

December 15, 2010

“In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree. . .”

You can see him can’t you?  In his big palace.  On his big throne.  Surrounded by his legions of servants and every luxury.

Then, this. . .

“. . . a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

You can picture this too.  The muck of the stable.  The stench of the animals.  The couple, frightened and still trying to grasp what was going on.

Power; Poverty.  Throne; Feeding trough.  Palace; Barn.

Which one caused the angels to sing?

Which picture represents true power?

Let us be people who embrace the baby.