Why Youth Ministry in 2018 Needs a Reformation

An excellent article written by a fellow Anglican...

A year of remembering the Protestant Reformation in 2017 provided an ideal opportunity to reflect on how this theological revolution 500 years ago informs our modern vision for youth ministry.

In the past decade, youth ministry scholars and leaders have exposed a theological crisis in the spiritual lives of young people. Various studies, particularly the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) and the College Transition Project, found that what American churched kids believe about Christianity is hardly Christian.

Christian Smith described the religious beliefs of teenagers as “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Kids basically understand Christianity to be rules-based behavior modification intended to enhance self-esteem and personal happiness. They view God more as a cosmic ambulance service who keeps to himself, not a living and sovereign Lord.

The diagnosis of the problem was expansive, thorough, and invaluable. Yet clear, developed theological direction was largely absent in response. To be sure, some general encouragements to be more Christ-centered followed; through the Sticky Faith project, for example, Chap Clark and Kara Powell offered one of the best contributions in their writing on a “sticky gospel,” which encouraged grace-based messages to kids.

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