Failing Youth Ministry

Our VBS theme this year: “Giving Us your Kid For 10 Hours 1 Week Won’t Overpower Your Family’s Neglect of all things Spiritual.”
@FailingPastor

 

 

Most are not shocked when kids who grew up in church leave the faith when they leave mom and dad’s house. I’ve heard statistics that like 80% of church kids leave the faith in their early 20’s.

We’re used to this news and yeah, some people are concerned about it, but most of the solutions to the problem demonstrate a lack of true concern. Usually we just double-down on what we’re already doing.

People are taught Christianity as kids; therefore Christianity is often linked in with “what kids believe.” To be an adult, someone who is sophisticated and a free-thinker, you have to depart from what you learned as a kid.

In today’s climate where atheism and materialism are considered cool and enlightened, kids flee the church. What’s rarely reported on is how many of these kids come back, especially when they have kids. I doubt the number is gigantic, but I know some who left the church for many years in their 20’s who later came back. The world holds out answers; young people try those answers. The world’s answers aren’t good; they tire of them and return to what is solid and helpful.

In all honesty, I doubt any kid is saved. I’m not saying none are, I’m merely saying I doubt they are. Kids don’t know enough. They don’t know the alternatives. All they know is what mom and dad say. They go with that and if mom and dad are playing games with faith, the kids will call them on that, blame the church, and leave what they think “the faith” is.

It is stupid to think that dropping your kids off at church will do the work for you. Kids follow the parents. Kids who leave the church generally have parents who aren’t in church much.

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Church Unity is Overrated

I would be more ecumenical if other churches weren’t all filled with heretic scum.
@FailingPastor

 

If every person in every church were led by the Spirit then yeah, I’d be all for ecumenical fellowship. But that’s not who goes to church. Lots of people go to church and lots of them don’t have the Spirit, even fewer are led by Him.

Thus we need to test the spirits. We need to watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing. We need to exercise church discipline. There are all sorts of ramifications for being in a fallen world with fallen people in it.

Happy thoughts about unity and fellowship do not override the reality of jerks and heretics in the church. Letting happy thoughts smooth over the differences in faith-practice and doctrinal substance doesn’t cut it for me.

I know, I’m the jerk and it’s guys like me that keep the church divided. Could be, then again, maybe your heresy has something to do with that division too. Hard to say, aint it?

I’ve been asked multiple times by other churches and “Christian organizations” if our church would get together for some ecumenical event. In all honesty, at the bottom of these requests there are two things these people want:

1) They want my church to hand out free advertising for them, and
2) They want our money.

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The Top Four Reasons Pastors Leave Their Church

Hey pastors:

That new church you’re taking that looks so perfect?
Some pastor just left that church looking for a perfect church.
@FailingPastor

 

 

By the time I put in 15 years at my church, a guy I graduated with was on his fourth church. He couldn’t find a place that felt right. So he kept looking. He’s now at a church for an extended length of time and feels he has “found his church home.”

That’s good. I am happy for him.

From an outsider’s cynical view, finding his “church home” looks an awful lot like, “I found the place that pays me the most I’ve ever gotten for doing this gig!”

Now, again, I’m a terrible person and I am not the judge. I’m just saying what it looks like.

Did it ever dawn on anyone that maybe one of the reasons there are so many terrible churches is because no pastor will stay long enough to help them repair? Most churches have never seen selfless service in person. Many pastors are in it for themselves, not for the benefit of the church (Romans 16:17-18).

I know a lot of pastors and I listen to their words. They tell me why they are leaving their church.

We need to get more families/young people/old people/men/women but no one is willing to do what’s needed to get them to come.
— I hear this one a lot. There’s a certain market the pastor wants to attract for some unknown reason, and yet no one else in the church seems particularly concerned about getting that desired market. So the pastor leaves because the church won’t get him his audience he prefers. Why not just minister to the people who are there instead of firing and replacing the entire congregation?

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How Long Should Pastors Stay at Their Church?

Pastors need to teach that when life gets hard, faith overcomes.
This is best taught by taking a new church every four years.

Pastors need to teach that love is patient enduring service.
This is best taught by taking a new church every four years.
@FailingPastor

 

 

The average stay at a church for a senior pastor is about four years. Youth pastors last about three.

This constant leaving makes churches doubt pastors. Small churches feel like they are stepping stones to larger churches. No one takes the pastor seriously because they all know he’ll leave when greener pastures show up.

This constant leaving makes pastors impatient and covetous. If their church doesn’t meet their ideals, they leave. They are only truly invested if the church does what they want it to do.

Pastor turnover also undermines any teaching on reaping and sowing, patient endurance, perseverance, longsuffering, love, or any such topics. God will never leave you nor forsake you, but your pastor? He’ll be gone in about four years. Nice.

Practice what you preach, right?

Pastors have been dropping congregations so quickly Christians assume this is what pastors should do. Many people look at me weird when I tell them how long I’ve been at my church. “Can’t find another job, eh?”

I even have a family member who repeatedly says it’s not right for pastors to stay at one church their whole career. This is primarily because they had a bad experience with a pastor who was at their church, and still is, for a long time. If he would have left they could have stayed. So now all pastors should leave after a couple years.

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Church Fellowship is Overrated

I love fellowship, if by “fellowship” you mean reading books alone in my office with the door closed.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Churches are all about fellowship. Fellowship is all about talking to each other and eating food. I’m cool with eating food.

I’ve never been a fan of talking. I never feel like I have anything relevant to add to any conversation. All my stories are lame and easily topped. My facts are usually wrong. My political insights are easily destroyed strawman opinions. Anything remotely good I share comes across as bragging.

I’d prefer silence at meals. As the great theologian, George Thorogood said, “When I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself.”

Amen.

The best times of Christian fellowship I’ve ever had are one-on-one conversation. Group gatherings drain me and lead to very little in the way of edification. Generally it’s just people talking over one another. Fellowship leads to headaches for me.

I prefer going home, sitting in my chair and fellowshipping with dead authors. Why does fellowship always have to be with living, talking people?

A. W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, C. S. Lewis, and so many others have such great insights that provoke so much thought and growth in me. It’s hard to convince me that going and talking about the weather and the football game would be better.

I’ve learned too much from dead people to ever be swayed into spending lots of time with living people.

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Church Growth Advice From a Church Shrinking Pastor

Church Growth fanatics should remember that the plants that grow quickest are weeds.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Pastors of small churches are often allured by church growth advice. Who doesn’t want to reach more people? But as soon as a pastor of a small church starts reading this stuff it becomes laughable. Taking my little church in this rural community and doing Southern California suburban church approaches? Riiiiiiight! Pretty sure these church growth antics would shrink my church faster than it currently is.

Get Rich Quick schemes abound. People get scammed in amazing ways by buying into shortcuts. Church Growth and Get Rich Quick schemes sound similar in approach, guarantees, and results.

Ever notice how many mega-church pastors take terrible moral falls? It’s a pandemic, and yet before they fall, all of us little pastors were told to follow their anointed means to achieve spectacular ends.

Why is it that a pastor who has more people suddenly becomes the expert on everything that everyone else must do? What verse in the Bible says, “If something attracts a lot of people it is good and anointed from on high?” There are none, yet there are plenty that talk about popular things being wrong. Remember the broad road with many on it? Remember where that road went?

Since when does popularity equal truth? Since never. Jesus was left alone at the end of His life. Paul stood alone. The prophets thought they were all by themselves, so much that Elijah claimed to be the only one left.

There is zero evidence from scripture that pastoral success looks like lots of people.

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Why Do We Rely on Church Tradition?

Do something stupid in church long enough and it becomes infallible, authoritative Church Tradition.
@FailingPastor

 

 

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Those are the alleged words of Vladimir Lenin, one of the greatest propagandists of all time. Lenin used his propaganda skills to gain power and wield it authoritatively over a helpless people.

One would hope only blatantly evil people would use such tactics to gain power. Unfortunately, hoping this would require you to be unfamiliar with human nature.

I’m stunned by people who believe things based on “church tradition.”

I mean, seriously, have you ever been to church? Have you ever hung around one for years, knowing its intimate details and goings-on? For the love of all things beautiful and good, why would you base your beliefs on what comes out of there?!

This is especially glaring for those who emphasize Sola Scriptura, the notion that Scripture is our sole authority for life and doctrine. Sole authority. “Sole” there means something. “Sole” means the only one!

“Well yes, but Scripture is hard to understand, so we need to get help. Relying on those who came before us is a safeguard for knowing what Scripture is saying.”

So, I need 2,000 years of insane people doing insane things in the name of Christ to properly understand the Scriptures? How about the Holy Spirit? Is He enough, or do I need all kinds of dead guys?

“Well, we test what the Spirit says by seeing if He said the same thing to others in the past.”

So, the only test of whether the Spirit is teaching me is if the teaching lines up with people I have no guarantee had the Spirit?

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