Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Jesus Centered Youth Ministry Moving From Jesus plus to Jesus only

            In this article, Jason Lanker reviews Rick Lawrence's book " Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry." He goes on to explain that " Lawrence comes to a major conclusion in the first section that defining who Jesus is and letting Jesus define our students are the two essential questions to be addressed in youth ministry." (p.210). It is necessary for this generation of pupils to know who Jesus is and what he can do for them, but in some churches, their youth pastors do not seem to grasp the understanding that most of these students are just "Jesus Sunday believers" and not "Weekday Jesus followers." As Lanker continues, he describes how Lawrence uses the word "I" many times throughout his book to help students to think for themselves along the way "I define Jesus as...", instead of told "This is whom Jesus is defined as..."
            "He argues that the reason for this disconnect is because most ministries use an “understand and apply” model of education. What he means by this is that because of our information focused teaching models, Jesus is just a bunch of facts with which most students will never come into transformative contact." (p.208) Most students go to church and only get Jesus in little doses, meaning that they do not fully understand who Jesus is and by the time they get home they do not care, and some pastors are starting to realize that. Lanker tells us the "he (Lawrence) argues that if we could just help our students understand Jesus then they would apply this new vision into a radically transformed relationship." (p. 209).  This is what youth pastors are trying to do but with all the technology these days Jesus is just a story to most students, and that is not what we want the world to see Jesus as. I know this for a fact because when I was in High school the majority of my friends just went to church to socialize. They told me that "sure Jesus sounds like a cool guy, but is the Bible really true or did a bunch of people get together years ago and write this book that just took off and a whole lot of people bought it as like some lottery ticket?" and at that moment I too even started to doubt. That was about the same time I was new in my faith, and my youth pastor took an interest in what was going on with the entire student body at the church and began to get involved in their lives.
            Why don't more youth pastors get involved? Why is it that church has become more of a social place instead of a house of worship? How come some parents think that their kids will be spiritually fulfilled after an hour of worship? What if we got the youth to serve/volunteer once or twice a month somewhere that involves their interests and share the gospel with them during that time? How did youth Bible studies become a study without the Bible?
            In my bible study, we followed a curriculum, which is fine, but I wanted to hear from my youth leaders and even from some of my peers about their experiences. When I became a leader, I follow the curriculum but I also share my experiences to show my students that sin flaws me and to show that I can be real, which in turn most have shared their stories as well.
            Unlike my youth pastor, my youth leaders never actually showed an interest and never really took the time to get to know their students. I plan on trying to get to know my students, whether it is taking a group outing or one on one sit down at a coffee shop. I think it is important for youth pastors and leaders to get to know their students. Maybe then many of the incoming generation would become closer to God if the older generation would just take the time to get to know them because that is what Jesus wants. Jesus helped those in need, and that is why we should know our students, that way we are better prepared to understand how to help them.

Work Cited
Lanker, J. (2015). Jesus centered youth ministry: Moving from Jesus-plus to Jesus
            only. Christian Education Journal, 12(1), 208-210. Retrieved from