Posted by: reformbama | October 1, 2010

“Zero To 300”

Zero to 300 without compromise. Zero to 300 hundred using one tool, Scripture.

This a story I pulled out of a message given by Rick Holland at the 2003 Shepherds Conference. The title of the message was the “Next Generation”. It was on youth ministry. Rick is now the college pastor at Grace Community and in my opinion is the guy that will replace John MacArthur when/if he retires, unless they bring in Phil Johnson. Then again all the things I have read that Grace’s elders have written, they have have a great stable of men to choose from.

First I am going to paste the opening of the message to give some background and then the story on the problem of pragmatism.

I’ve been in youth ministry for 22 years, and can I vent just a second for the three of you?

Youth ministry is typically not looked at as legitimate in the church. It is not looked at as important in the church. It is not looked at as real ministry. It’s not looked at with a dignity or significance, and that’s a shame, but if I can shift gears and talk to those of us who are in youth ministry a little bit—a lot of that is our fault. We’ve kind of succumbed to the “Hey, Hi, Ho” Youth Pastor. You know what a “Hey, Hi, Ho” Youth Pastor is? “Hey…, Hi…, Ho…!” That’s about as deep as they get. As deep as a birdbath, is most youth ministries. They think that if you can wear your boxers high, and your pants hanging off your tail, and everyone can see it, and you can act like the students, and you know the latest lingo, and you have an N64 or a Playstation 3, 4 or 7 and you’ve got it all wired, and you’ve got an X-Box, and you can have students at your house and you know how to order pizza, and you know how to go to the football game, and you know where the campus is, and you know definitely what movies to see and what not to see, then you’re a good youth pastor. And I feel for you guys, and I hope that you share my sentiment. It’s a sad legacy and it’s a sad reputation that we’ve inherited, that we’ve learned. Sometimes we’ve earned it.

It’s time that the church stood up and took seriously what this seminar is about—the next generation. There’s a myth that’s out there. It’s a lie. It’s from Satan. It’s from hell, and it goes like this: “Youth are the future of the church.” The problem with that is that it says that youth are nothing in the church right now, and it’s our job as men and as even women, shepherding the men and women in our ministries to stop and say, “No, they’re not the future, they are the church right now.” And if you just think back.. .1 am so convicted when I read history—I’m kind of a history buff–and you read Jonathan Edwards going to college, you know, nailing down his theology when he’s fifteen years old. Calvin and Luther understanding and knowing four or five languages by the time they’re twelve or thirteen. We’ll talk about this a little later, but Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, doing what? Standing up to the then-known king of the world, based on their biblical convictions from Leviticus chapter 11, and they were probably junior-highers when they did that.

First of all is pragmatism. Pragmatism.

Wrong goals create the wrong methods, and success in
this kind of ministry is defined by numbers, good activities and involvement.
This is the church growth movement at the youth level. Can I tell you this? The church growth movement was a youth program. Bill Hybels was a youth pastor and took that whole model to Willow Creek, and that’s where the whole thing came from. Whatever we need to do to get the kids to come, that’s what we need to do. It’s eventology. It’s all built around an event that draws numbers and is ultimately defined, is ultimately rendered successful or a failure based on the numbers, on the success of it.

I don’t want to be the hero of any of my stories, and I want to make God the hero of this, but I went back to Detroit to be a youth pastor back in the mid-90 ‘s for a couple of years to help a friend of mine out who was back there, and they had just gone through a really struggling time where the youth pastor had to be asked to leave. And so I walk in, you know, I’ve been at Grace Church, I’ve traveled around the world giving youth ministry conferences, and I think that I am first round draft pick, here we go. And I got in there and there were seventy kids. That’s a pretty good high school ministry, and I started doing what I thought should be done, and about two weeks later there were forty kids. And I kept doing, and then there were thirty kids, and then there were twenty kids, and we got down to twelve. And I remember at one point I went home, it was freezing as it always is in Detroit, and I said, “Kim” (the first round draft pick mentality was gone very fast)—I said, “Kim, I’m a complete failure. What am I doing wrong? What do I need to do to make this thing work?” And my wife, who is.. .she’s the finest Christian I know. She’s the most godly human I’ve ever met on the planet. My wife’s so perceptive. She knows the Lord, she knows ministry, she knows theology and she knows me. She said, “So I guess what you’re saying is that if you don’t have those numbers or if you don’t keep those kids, that God’s not in it and you’re a failure, right?” “I wasn’t going to say it like that, honey.” And then she says this, she said, “What you’ve been doing is the man I thought I married. If you change now, I didn’t know who I married.”

So we just kept doing it. You know what we did, we got together Sundays and Wednesdays, we sang a few songs and then I preached for about forty-five or fifty minutes. Then we had fifteen. A few months later we had thirty. About a year later we were back up to seventy, back to even water level. And two and a half years later we had 300. They weren’t there because of me. I think what happened was they were there before for all the wrong reasons and when those reasons were gone, there was no reason to be there. But then the people who were coming were coming because they wanted to worship, they wanted to learn, they wanted discipleship, they wanted to grow, a staff was being trained. I think that sometimes we’re so terrified to lose students who really aren’t attached, that we’ll do anything to keep everybody coming. You know most of these students ,   don’t like Jesus, but we want them to like us. That’s a problem. Pragmatism.

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