While I would agree with you completely, I don’t want to communicate that there’s not a place for those large scale events. They’re often a catalyst for students to pursue Christ deeper. They simply shouldn’t be the end-all. Too often that’s how we view conferences, “revival meetings,” camps, and the like. “If we can just get our kids to this event, then they’ll [get saved, change their behavior, break up, fill in the blank]. These events may be a catalyst for change (sometimes), but the change will only be surface (seed among weeds?) unless there are disciplers ready to walk with these students afterwards, and over the long haul. That takes work, time, and a commitment to a covenant relationship with a church body, not to mention, as you said, Seth, a commitment to coach students one-on-one instead of trying to do so from the pulpit while growing your youth group numbers.
A grassroots youth revolution
It is desperately needed, but the coming youth revolution isn’t a stadium full of cheering students. Teen Mania is currently trumpeting this alarming statistic: “Current trends show that only 4% will be evangelical believers by the time they become adults. Compare this with 34% of adults today who are evangelicals. We are on the verge of a catastrophe.”
Someone needs to play the role of Paul Revere, and I’m thankful that Teen Mania has stepped up to the plate. But while stadiums have their place in the mix, filling amphitheatres and sponsoring yet another event isn’t, in and of itself, the revolution.
The only thing that will stop the current death spiral is the same methodology that Jesus deployed. Though his generation looked as lost as any generation before or since, Jesus called out and painstakingly discipled a remnant.
And that is what we must do too. Too many people in the discipleship business (youth pastors in particular), are stuck in a numbers game, trying to bring everyone along at the same time. We need to focus our attention as disciplers on the 20% of the people who are going to produce 80% of the results. Jesus couldn’t have been more clear: “Let the dead bury the dead” was his prescription.
We are in an epic battle for hearts.
For those of us who are believers, we can see the enemy all around us – pursuing our youth by lying, deceiving, tempting – using every form of tempation imaginable to accomplish his goal of destroying that person’s life and their opportunity for an eternity with God in Heaven.
Non-believers can’t see this battle happening. To them, this battle looks like “personal choice”, “self-expression” or other forms of self-determination.
Wide is the path of destruction – so wide – that non-believers are incapable of recognizing it. It’s actually more of a pattern than a physical path.
So it’s up to believers to plant the word of God into people’s hearts – one person at a time, one seed at a time.
I’m with you!
These numbers 4% are alarming to the believer, and I see this in my students in school, the foster children in my home, and the youth in churches. I have noticed for the first time that we have many children who are not christianized at all, however, the are being taught by this world system and its wickedness. I love stadiums, conferences, and the like – but the every day challenge before me of living for Jesus and discipling all those around (even if they don’t realize it) is living the “event” everyday! May the Lord somehow get us out of ourselves and into who and what he is all about – remember he is the pattern, not a church or spiritual movement. He had times when he spoke to multitudes, but it was his everyday presence and discipling that led 11 wild-eyed fanatics to be part of the birthing of the church and spreading the gospel all the way around the world to even YOU.