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AWANA is a favorite program at the Red Brick Church. But it requires many workers.

If you are struggling to find enough workers to staff your nursery or teach Sunday School, you are not alone. Even Jesus recognized that the workers are few. Here are some truths I remind our church family of in the Fall.

It is that time of the year when churches are working to make sure they have slots filled for Fall ministries. It’s a challenge. “The workers are few.” But before you get discouraged, read Matthew 9:35-38 and remember these points.

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”(Mt 9:35-38).

1. Remember that sign-up lists and bulletin announcements hit about as many line drives as warm up swings in the on deck circle. Don’t be discouraged about recruiting if all you have done thus far is announce the need from up front. Bulletin and pulpit announcements are only first attempts, and, honestly, not very good ones. Take those swings if they help you get loose. But, recognize that you will only get a few laborers through that method.

Jesus actively sought out his team and painted a vision (“I will make you fishers of men”). Paul left one of his most trusted lieutenants behind in Crete to appoint elders. And, then Paul wrote what became the book of Titus to direct him in the process.

Sign-up lists don’t get it done, nor do bare pleas from the pulpit.

2. Remember there are children playing on the freeway of a fallen world. Apart from the church Satan will run them over.

When Jesus saw the crowds, had a sense of urgency. He recognized that they were harassed and helpless – – like sheep without a shepherd – – like children playing in the middle of the freeway.

Are you willing to leave children playing in the middle of the interstate without working harder to find staff?

Let’s get it done.

Technical stuff – – In the phrase, “he had compassion for them” the word translated, “compassion,” would mean his heart “contracted convulsively (NIDNT, 2, 599).” It is a rare word: it appears only 12x in the New Testament, all in the Synoptic Gospels. In Matt 14:14, used to describe how Jesus felt about the crowd shortly before the feeding of the 5,000. It is used to describe how Jesus felt before the feeding of the 4,000 in Matt 15:32. It is used in the parable of the unmerciful servant to describe the master who released his servant of his debts. In Matt 20:34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they receive their sight and followed him. Luke uses it of the Samaritan in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Luke uses it to describe the compassion of the Father in the prodigal.

Now, here is the great news about this word. It never appears apart from a corresponding action. Every time that it appears, the Lord, or the character in a parable representing him has this quality of compassion he acts. It is the idea of mercy. “Since seeing and being prepared to help are one, it sets in motion as with Jesus himself, a whole chain of events which together are called eleos . . . Humanity and neighborliness are not qualities but action (NIDNT, 2, 600).”

3. Remember to wear out the knees of your every day jeans. Prayer is the center of what needs to be done. That’s what Jesus said. If you are struggling to fill key slots, ask yourself this question. How much have I urgently pleaded with God for this slot to be filled? What is translated, “pray earnestly,” in Matt 9:35, might also be translated “beg.”

You respond, “Oh, I’ve prayed a lot about it.”

Really? Are you sure? Be honest. How much have you (we) really prayed?

How many times have you pleaded with God on your knees to provide someone for this position?

Have you gotten together with other leaders explicitly to pray, and then prayed, or do you just encourage each other to pray?

Have you fasted and prayed?

So much of the time we talk a lot about praying, and do little of it. And, then we’re not honest with ourselves about our prayerlessness. You don’t need the church to organize something major. Call up a couple of people. Get on your knees and pray.

4. Remember to pray in particular that the Lord of the harvest will catapult workers into the church basement.

“Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers” – The word “send out” appears 81x in the NT. Most of the uses in Matthew (28x) deal with casting out demons or forcibly throwing someone out. For example, just a few verses before, the same word is used to describe casting out a demon (Matt 9:33).

Bruner wrote, “Jesus does not say ‘find’ or ‘recruit’ workers. The idea is this: there are Christian workers already there in this first, and in every subsequent Christian community, and they need to have a fire lit under them to thrust them out of their comforts into the world of need.”

The word is used in the Greek translation (the LXX) of the OT in Genesis 3:24 when the Lord cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden.

Prayer is how fires get lit under potential workers. We’re looking for people to get catapulted into the AWANA program.

5. Remember, we won’t solve spiritual problems with administrative solutions. Churches often seek to solve a shortage of workers by reorganizing, changing the rotation, changing how often people work, etc etc etc. It may be necessary to reorganize, but it won’t solve a spiritual problem. It will give you a temporary shot in the arm, and you’ll be back to the struggle again. Often, CE reorganization is a “long run for a short slide.”

6. Remember not to resent the challenges of recruiting. To be involved in the work of the harvest is our great privilege. It’s God plan that we should pray and cry out to Him and be reminded of the great need. If you are in the game, you’re in the struggle. Be thankful.

7. Remember to practice an elevator speech (something you could say between the first and fourth floors on the elevator) that will paint a vision for why someone would want to serve. Jesus concisely summarized the need with agricultural terms – the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. How could you describe your need in a compelling way in a few lines.

Why not practice writing out one paragraph of why you would ask someone to fill the slot in question? Or, practice giving the speech with other members of your team.

A good elevator speech that envisions with people why they would want to serve, will avoid the error described in the next point.

8. Remember not to apologize for opportunities to serve, or to act as though you are asking people to do something for you. I remember a number of years ago (in a different church) listening to someone recruit nursery workers for Christmas Eve. The conversation went something like this, “I hate to ask you to do this. I apologize for bothering you. But, I wonder if you could help me out by working in the nursery.”

That is a recruiting disaster. How could we apologize to anyone for asking them to hold a baby on CHRISTMAS EVE! What greater way could there be to honor the Lord’s first advent, then to ask people to rock a baby (in a warm and comfortable nursery rather than a stable)? What better investment than to allow young parents the opportunity to sing Silent Night?

It would be so much better to say, “Listen, we have a real opportunity to invest in the Kingdom. Why not come in as a family and work in the nursery. If we are really blessed we will have several babies present, and you can rock them, and pray over them, and encourage their parents. And, who knows what God might do? Someday you may find that your one evening of service in the church nursery changed everything for this family. It might be that you would rock the next George Whitfield. But, even if it isn’t Whitfield – – could anything be more beautiful than caring for babies on Christmas Eve.

While we’re on this topic – – I think it is preferable to say, “I’m thankful for you serving,” rather than, “Thank you.” It’s not a grave sin to say the latter. But, I think thanking people implies they’re doing it for us. Whereas, saying, “We are thankful,” reminds all involved that we are doing this for the King. And, when we serve in tough settings, Jesus considers it a personal favor (Matt 25:40).

9. Remember that are not alone in your recruiting challenges. One of Satan’s schemes is to discourage leaders by whispering in their ears, “Something is wrong with your church. Other churches are not facing this struggle.”

It’s a lie.

There have always been a shortage of workers. Jesus said it Himself, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”

Allie High School GraduationEvery May, since I became a pastor over 20 years ago, I review what I want to say to graduating students on one page. I prayerfully refine it every year. This year I have consolidated points that were previously separate and I have added points #5 and #6. I welcome your interaction . . . you may talk me into changing what I say before I pass this out to graduating seniors in May.*   

Dear Graduate:

Congratulations on your accomplishment! We are so thankful for you.

For over 20 years I have thought about what I would tell graduates on one page.  Each year it is my goal to prayerfully refine this letter even as I refine our philosophy of youth ministry. Here is the 2015 version.

  1. Know that following Christ is both right and best. Believing in Jesus is right because Jesus is the One true God. He deserves all glory. Putting our faith and trust in Jesus is best because Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:9-10). If you have not done so already, give your life to the King. On the Cross, he paid the penalty for His people so that we could spend eternity together on the New Earth in his presence. This is the Gospel (or the Good News of Christ) and it should shape every area of life. The alternative to believing in Jesus is unthinkable (John 3:36).
  2. Be warned and be sure. First, be warned: the way of the sinner is hard. As someone has said, “choose to sin, choose to suffer.” Don’t buy the lie that you can make wrong choices and not reap the consequences (Galatians 6:7-8). Do not choose to suffer by dating unbelievers! Hate, hate, hate pornography and other potentially addictive behaviors. Second, be sure. Be sure you really are a Christian (2 Cor 13:5, James 2:17). Many think they are Christians and they are not. The worst words that will ever be heard will be when many stand before Christ thinking they are Christians and find out that they will spend eternity in hell (Matt 7:21-23). The thought that some in our flock may be in that group is what scares me most as a pastor. Talk to someone soon if you have any questions!
  3. Remember that God makes bricks with a building in mind. The Apostle Peter compared individual Christians to living stones so that he could make the point that Christians should be mortared together in local churches (1 Peter 2:5). Gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve together, local churches are called to be salt –subtly seasoning and preserving every bit of our communities – – and light – – boldly proclaiming the truth to light the darkness. Be baptized and join. You need a church as much as Noah needed the ark. Don’t put church on hold for the next few years. During that time, you will make decisions that affect the trajectory of your life. Be aimed in the right direction. If you move, or go to college, make it your first priority to find a church and Christian fellowship. This is especially critical the first three weeks of college.
  4. Sharpen your wisdom saw with the Word (Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 12:1-2). Wisdom is skill for living.  It is the saw we use to cut our way through life. We need a sharp saw to make quality decisions. We sharpen our wisdom saws by memorizing and reading the Word and by hearing it preached. Be Word-centered! Rinse in Scripture. It is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:7-11).
  5. Envision a beautiful bride walking down the aisle in a Christ-centered wedding. Most of you will marry. God’s plan for sex and marriage is breathtakingly beautiful. All of us, even those who remain single, must remember that the Church is the bride of Christ. Marriage and the gospel explain one another (Ephesians 5:29-32). We cannot allow unbelieving culture to corrupt our vision for Christ-centered weddings and homes. Both marriage and the gospel are at stake.
  6. Think deeply about true answers. Don’t stumble through life as an unconscious zombie. Too many in our day never think about life’s big questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Why do we love? Why is there pain? How can we know God? Don’t be a zombie! Insist on answers (1 Peter 3:15). Let’s welcome discussion about what we believe so that we can point others to our King.
  7. Be assured: the people of the Red Brick Church love you. Love didn’t evolve. Love wasn’t invented. Love is eternal because our triune God is eternally love: ever giving and self-giving. He loves us and tells us to love one another. And we do. We love you. When we get to the Heavenly City, we want to know you will be at our meeting spot: 5th tree, right side of the river, facing the throne. We will be there soon. In the mean time, I am a pastoral resource available to you!

In Him,

 

Pastor Chris Brauns

www.chrisbrauns.com , @chrisbrauns

*This is a working document so I am revising it over time. I have already revised point #5 after an excellent comment. More revisions are probably coming. Proverbs 27:17

This Spring I will be speaking at the Church and Culture Conference in Wisconsin. This year’s topic is, “A Biblical Approach to Homosexuality.” A central part of my preparation is meditating on 1 Peter 3:13-17. You can watch a promo video for the conference below.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, [16] having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 1 Peter 3:15-16

Reminders from Our Church Children

Chris —  January 13, 2015 — 2 Comments

FullSizeRenderSunday I wasn’t preaching so I had the rare privilege of spending time with some of our church children. Here’s how they encouraged me (with some reminders too):

  • One little girl improvised her own songs during craft time. To an unknown melody she sang, “My mommy will like this picture . . . she will think it is beautiful.” One of the greatest compliments a little girl can give her parents is to be happy.
  • A little boy told me that his dad reads him the story about Jesus making a lame man walk. We need more dads  who read Bible stories! Deut 6:4-9. (Get this book!)
  • I learned new rules to “Duck, Duck, Goose.” I didn’t know that if you’re too slow you sit in the middle as “duck soup.” I like the rule because it meant I got to sit with a cute little girl. I hope mothers never stop buying black patent leather shoes.
  • Several of the children reminded me that I have been to their houses. I wish I could clone myself.
  • I wasn’t ready with any story in particular so we went over my favorites. One little boy predicted that the lions would eat Daniel. They knew most of the stories before I got to the end. The children especially remembered stories with songs (Luke 19:1-9, Matthew 7:24-27). Sing.
  • I’ve stayed in the valley that inspired Tolkein about Rivendell. I’ve been to the palace of Versailles. But it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, the most beautiful site is childrenChildren are an easy first. Nothing else comes close.

The Brauns Family on a Happy OccasionThis post is published with the modest expectation that readers have the capacity to recognize foolish behavior and determine not to follow the examples described. As I do qualify in the body of the narrative, I preemptively point out that, as a future pastor, I was blameless.

The primary way that the New Testament describes the relationship between Christians is that we are brothers and sisters.

I’m the second of six children (Shelley, Chris, Mary Dawn, Danny, Rusty, and Erin) so I can work with  brother/sister imagery. In the picture to the right I am in the back row next to my sister Mary Dawn. From left to right in the front are Danny (the protagonist in many Brauns stories), Shelley, Rusty (the guy who made the shot), and Erin.

I remember launching water balloons off the roof of our farmhouse at my sister’s first date. We also stole the same guy’s hubcaps. He was a champion sprinter but I had a motorcycle.

My brother, Rusty, once shot my brother Danny in the eyebrow with a BB gun. Danny was looking out of a knothole in the barn when Rusty shot him. Fortunately, Rusty was a little off center and Rusty plunked him in the eyebrow. Ideally, little boys with bbs lodged in their face seek medical attention, but my brothers feared our mother more than infection. The BB stayed put. Years later, a surgeon removed it when Danny was getting medical attention for reasons which involve another story.

In Rusty’s defense, he only shot Danny after Danny violated an agreed upon rule of BB gun fights. We had our own version of the Geneva Convention and war crimes were discouraged.

As a future pastor, I stayed away from the violent part of things. I was most often the voice of reason. And I don’t remember my sister Mary Dawn getting stung with a BB in the same way she does. Though, I do remember her really accelerating after she got hit.

Danny has the leading role in many of the Brauns sibling-stories. Depending on how you look at, he was behind the wheel when two of my sister’s cars went to the happy hunting ground. Danny was driving Shelley’s Chrysler Cordoba when it caught fire and burned in Bonaparte, IA. He had previously taken her Mercury into a tree in the state park. Strictly speaking, Danny wasn’t totally responsible for this car because Mary Dawn had previously wounded it when she plowed through a mailbox. Danny was with her at the time and to this day no one knows quite what happened. The mailbox, for the record, was on the opposite side of the road.

One year Mary Dawn was cutting down sweet corn when Danny tried to show her how he could disarm her of the knife. You know where this story is going. His hand was cut bad enough that he had to go to the hospital. Mary Dawn was too traumatized to drive, so Danny had to drive which might have been okay if (a) he was not losing blood at the time and (b) he was old enough to have a driver’s license.

Danny didn’t always drive himself to the emergency room. Mom drove when they pumped his stomach.

Danny was also present when I became violently ill with appendicitis while we were sledding. We were in the pasture at the time, a good walk from home, and there was nothing to do but for my brothers to pull me home on one of the sleds. They made it about 20 yards before they decided it wasn’t worth it and left me in the snow, at which time I figured out that I had the strength to walk home. My sickness meant a delay in Shelley getting her braces off so she accused me of faking, but I was gloriously vindicated when they did surgery.

The Brauns siblings get together fairly often. Brothers and sisters stick together, BB gun fights and wrecked cars notwithstanding.

See also:

A Tribute to Bull Fighting

Remembering the 1972 County Fair in Keosauqua, IA

The 197

Update 4: I am hearing that the family has solved their immediate housing need. I am thankful for a community where so many work together to care for the hurting. Rural northern Illinois people are good neighbors!

UPDATE 3: The family has received all the clothing they need right now and are moving into a furnished place. So no more clothing or furniture is needed at this time. New household items will be accepted at the FHS on Thursday: towels/washcloths, first aid kit supplies, kitchen ware and utensils, sheets, blankets, etc.

UPDATE 2: DONATIONS WILL BE RECEIVED 2-6 PM, THURSDAY, JUNE 12, AT FORRESTON JR/SR HIGH.

UPDATE: THERE IS NOW AN ACCOUNT AT STILLMAN VALLEY BANK. YOU CAN MAKE A GIFT TO THE BELTRAN FAMILY AT ANY OF THE STILLMAN VALLEY BANK BRANCHES WHICH INCLUDE: STILLMAN VALLEY, BYRON, ROCHELLE, OREGON, ROCKFORD, AND ROSCOE.

A family in our community (Leaf River) lost everything in a fire yesterday (see here for the news story). The family is not a part of our church, but our hearts go out to them. They lost everything except the clothes on their back.

I went to what is left of their home and prayed with them after church. Their daughter pointed out to me, “Even our camper burned.” You can see what is left of the camper on the right side of the picture.

2014-06-08 12.00.10 2014-06-08 12.00.14 2014-06-08 12.04.52 2014-06-08 12.04.58 2014-06-08 12.05.02 2014-06-08 12.13.38 2014-06-08 12.13.47The family was at a parade when the fire started. To make matters worse, one of the sons was injured in a “float accident” – – in the end, he was going to the emergency room at the same time that fire engines were going to their home. You can see the picture of his injured leg above.

Tomorrow, we will find out the details of where to take donations. For now, consider if you might have any donations of clothes or other needed help.

Here are their clothing sides:

Dad: XL, shoe size 10

Mom: size 16, shoe size 11

Son (age 12): size 16, shoe 10

Daughter (age 12): junior women, size large

Son (age 10): 12-14, shoe size 6

Son (age 3): 4T

I will be also talking with our leaders about a gift from our church benevolent fund.

 

Gospel Thoughts for High School GraduatesEarlier this week I posted a version of the letter I share each year with graduates. I asked for your input and it was such a great help that I made my most extensive revisions to the letter ever. It is a little longer, but it still fits on one page of a Word document with 1″ margins! Here is the 2014 version (with lots of links to follow).

Dear Graduate:

Congratulations on your accomplishment! We are so thankful for you.

For the last 20 years I have thought about what I would tell graduates on one page.  Each year I refine this letter a little more even as I refine our philosophy of youth ministry. Here is the 2014 version. It is my prayer for you.

  1. If you have not already, Give Your Life to Jesus Christ Who is the only King.  On the Cross He paid the penalty for His people.  Receive the gift of eternal life by believing in Him and your sins are forgiven.  The alternative is unthinkable (John 3:36). This is the Gospel (or the Good News of Christ) and it should shape every area of life. Christ is God– – He is not just a name we chant to help us cope. We must be His. It is not enough to be “moral” (Romans 3:23).
  2. Be sure you really are a Christian (2 Cor 13:5, James 2:17). Many think they are Christians and they are not. The worst words that will ever be heard in human history will be when a group of people stand before Christ thinking they are Christians and find out that they are not (Matt 7:21-23). What scares me most as a pastor is the thought that some of our people may be in that group. Be sure of your salvation! If you have any questions, talk to me, or someone who understands the Gospel, soon.
  3. Grow in wisdom (Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 12:1-2).  Wisdom is skill for living.  It is the saw we use to cut our way through life. We need a sharp saw to make quality decisions. We sharpen the saw by remembering that the fear of the LORD s the beginning of wisdom and by being in Word-centered local church. Don’t think you can simply put church on hold for the next few years. During that time, you will make decisions that affect the rest of your life.  Make wise decisions amid being involved in a good church and vitally connected to other committed Christians. If you move, or go to college, make it your first priority to find Christian fellowship. This is especially critical the first three weeks of college.
  4. Follow Christ and be super excited about a blessed or “happy” life.  For Christians, everything doesn’t always fit together as neatly as you would like in the short run. Our culture is increasingly hostile to Christianity. But Psalm 1 is true.  The person who walks with God and delights in God’s wonderful Word is the one who will be blessed.  Pursue the joy of Christian life. God promises that you won’t be disappointed (Hebrews 11:6). Christ is both right and best. Remember: there are two ways: a broad road or a narrow one. There is no third.
  5. Be warned: the way of the sinner is hard.  Please don’t be deceived.  Don’t buy the lie that you can make wrong choices and not reap the consequences (Galatians 6:7-8).  Choose to sin, choose to suffer (1 Corinthians 10:11). (Do not choose to suffer by dating unbelievers! Hate, hate, hate pornography!)
  6. Tell people about Jesus – Regardless of where God leads in life we are called to be Christ’s ambassadors (Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Cor 5:19-2). Jesus gave us the mission of making disciples.
  7. Be assured: the people of the Red Brick Church love you. When we get to the Heavenly City, we want to know you will be at our meeting spot: 5th tree, right side of the river, facing the throne. We will be there soon. In the mean time, I am a pastoral resource available to you!

In Him,

 

Pastor Chris Brauns

Allie High School GraduationWhat am I missing? On one page or less, what reminders should we give high school and college graduates? I have been working on the below document for the last 20 years. It has been revised many times. But I still think it can get better.

Dear Graduate:

Congratulations on your accomplishment!

Since I was a youth pastor, I have thought about what I pray our graduates will remember from our church.  During the last year (2014), I have reviewed our philosophy of youth ministry in a renewed way. I deeply pray that you will always remember these things.

Never forget:

  1. Jesus Christ is the only King.  He paid the penalty for His people.  Receive the gift of eternal life by believing in Him and your sins are forgiven.  The alternative is unthinkable (John 3:36). This is the Gospel (or the Good News of Christ) and it is not something just for isolated parts of life. It should shape how we live in every area. Christ is the center – – He is not just a name we chant to help us cope.
  2. Many people think they are Christians when they are not (Matthew 7:21-23). The worst words that will ever be heard in human history will be when a group of people stand before Christ thinking they are Christians and find out that they are not. What scares me most as a pastor is the thought of some of our people being in that group. Be sure of your salvation! If you have any questions, talk to me, or someone who understands the Gospel, soon.
  3. There is a need to grow as a Christian (Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 12:1-2).  Wisdom is skill for right living.  Wisdom is the saw we use to cut our way through life. We need a sharp saw if we are going to cut our way through decisions. We sharpen the saw by being in God’s Word with a local church. Don’t think you can simply put church on hold for the next few years.  During that time, you will make decisions that affect the rest of your life.  Make those decisions amid being involved in a good church and growing as a believer
  4. The Christian life is the blessed or “happy” life.  For Christians, everything doesn’t always fit together as neatly as you would like in the short run. But Psalm 1 is true.  The person who walks with God is the one who will be blessed.  Pursue the joy of Christian life. God promises that you won’t be disappointed (Hebrews 11:6). Christ is both right and best.
  5. And the way of the sinner is hard.  Please don’t be deceived.  Don’t buy the lie that you can make wrong choices and not reap the consequences (Galatians 6:7-8).  As believers you must make God honoring decisions or you will face the consequences of wrong choices.  Choose to sin, choose to suffer (1 Corinthians 10:11).
  6. The people of the Red Brick Church love you. When we get to the other side, in the Heavenly City, we want to know you will be at our meeting spot: 5th tree, right side of the river, facing the throne of Christ.

In Him,

 

Pastor Chris Brauns

Balance is the temporary moment when one swings from one extreme to the other. Having thought about youth ministry for almost 25 years, it is my impression that balance is needed in the below areas. Both ditches must be avoided.

In what other areas of youth ministry is balance needed?

Left Ditch

 

Right Ditch

Worldly – No different than secular culture. “Amish” – Totally isolated and not salt and light.
Teens isolated by age group / de-emphasis of family No youth ministry / family and church seen synonymously
Games only Non-engaging and irrelevant teaching
A “decisionist” approach with little or know structured curriculum or teaching “Programmed conversion” / formalized spirituality through confirmation etc / no recognition of revival
Complete para-church approach A refusal to ever cooperate with other churches

See these posts:

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

Emphases for Graduating Seniors

The New City Catechism

A Key Principle for Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry is Taking a DiveChurches are losing their youth at an alarming rate. Michael Horton and the White Horse Inn have started a new audio series that is highly recommended for parents and church leaders. Horton encourages catechetical teaching – – that is teaching through a structured series of questions and answers.

You can listen to the White Horse Inn series here. The series introduction reads:

According to the most conservative estimates, over 60 percent of those raised in evangelical homes end up leaving church at age 18. In some cases the estimates range as high as 90 percent. So what are we doing wrong? Why are we failing to pass the faith on the next generation, and what should churches and parents do to address this crisis? To help answer these questions, I’ll talk with J.I. Packer, Christian Smith, Thomas Bergler, Kenda Creasy Dean, and others as we introduce our new series on Youth Ministry.

According to the most conservative estimates, over 60 percent of those raised in evangelical homes end up leaving church at age 18. In some cases the estimates range as high as 90 percent. So what are we doing wrong? Why are we failing to pass the faith on the next generation, and what should churches and parents do to address this crisis? To help answer these questions, I’ll talk with J.I. Packer, Christian Smith, Thomas Bergler, Kenda Creasy Dean, and others as we introduce our new series on Youth Ministry. – See more at: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2014/05/04/whi-1204-youth-ministry-in-crisis/#sthash.X9x8qSVw.dpuf
According to the most conservative estimates, over 60 percent of those raised in evangelical homes end up leaving church at age 18. In some cases the estimates range as high as 90 percent. So what are we doing wrong? Why are we failing to pass the faith on the next generation, and what should churches and parents do to address this crisis? To help answer these questions, I’ll talk with J.I. Packer, Christian Smith, Thomas Bergler, Kenda Creasy Dean, and others as we introduce our new series on Youth Ministry. – See more at: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2014/05/04/whi-1204-youth-ministry-in-crisis/#sthash.X9x8qSVw.dpuf
According to the most conservative estimates, over 60 percent of those raised in evangelical homes end up leaving church at age 18. In some cases the estimates range as high as 90 percent. So what are we doing wrong? Why are we failing to pass the faith on the next generation, and what should churches and parents do to address this crisis? To help answer these questions, I’ll talk with J.I. Packer, Christian Smith, Thomas Bergler, Kenda Creasy Dean, and others as we introduce our new series on Youth Ministry. – See more at: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2014/05/04/whi-1204-youth-ministry-in-crisis/#sthash.X9x8qSVw.dpuf

The first person that Horton interviews is Christian Smith. Smith is the sociologist who coined the term “moralistic therapeutic deism.” See this post: Christian Smith Helps Us Understand Our Teens and Young Adults.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is . . . about providing therapeutic benefits to its adherents. This is not a religion of repentance from sins, of keeping the Sabbath, of living as a servant of a sovereign divine, of steadfastly saying one’s prayers, of faithfully observing high holy days, of building character through suffering, of basking in God’s love and grace, of spending oneself in gratitude and love for the cause of social justice et cetera. Rather, what appears to be the actual dominant religion among U.S. teenagers is centrally about feeling good, happy, secure, at peace. It is about attaining subjective well-being, being able to resolve problems, and getting along amiably with other people.” Christian Smith

Horton interviews a wide range of thinkers including J.I. Packer, Marva Dawn, and Will Willimon. They stress that we should think of teaching our teens about the Christian faith in the same way that we would teach them a second language. That is, they need to learn a new vocabulary and way of thinking.

At the Red Brick Church we work on our philosophy of youth ministry in an ongoing way. You ran read some of my thoughts on youth ministry on this post: Reflections regarding Youth Ministry.

Also recommended:

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

Emphases for Graduating Seniors

The New City Catechism

A Key Principle for Youth Ministry