St. John Youth
Several years ago, an LCMS youth ministry had the motto of worship, work, play. They observed that most Americans, “worship their work, play in their worship, and work at their play.” Therefore, they, rightly, turned that around and teach that worship is the place where Jesus is truly present giving His gifts, and so should be reverent (as it is here at St. John) and not playful. They also taught that the work time (that means learning in Bible class and catechesis) should be taken seriously, reverently, and is not the time to play. If we expect our kids to take Math Class seriously at school, how much more should we expect of them during sermon, Bible and Catechism Class, which teach the things of God that give eternal life?
I agree with this motto. Obviously, we all know that the worship and work part of the equation is how Jesus defines the Christian Church and why and how we exist. We also want to be careful of segregating our congregation into age groups. The church is one body. I appreciate our congregation in this regard, as we have a nice mix of ages that congregate together around the Word of Christ. With that said, Christians can play together, and it makes sense to segregate some things. Youth need this play to make good Lutheran friends and to start looking for a godly spouse. Now, youth can get the play, that is, social activities, anywhere. And, I believe they do. The days of Walther League are over–where most youth got their activities through the church. Schedules are much busier today with school activities, club sports, and the like. Sundays and Wednesdays are no longer protected church times by the world. So, there isn’t the same need for activities through the church now days.
Additionally, there are simply less youth around due to the explosion of preventing children through birth control (and abortion) starting in the 1960-70’s. But just because there are less youth alive, and the ones that are, are much busier, that doesn’t mean that we can’t still offer activities for our youth for the above reasons. We Christians aren’t against fun☺ In Christ, we can have fun without feeling like we need to mix in worship or work. Youth are smart. They can smell the bait and switch—they come for volleyball, but find themselves sitting in a long devotion. We need to keep these “worship, work, and play” categories separate; I believe it is dangerous if we don’t.
I also want to thank our volunteers (and future volunteers) who will be planning some youth activities. We plan to have a parents and youth meeting after Bible class to get feedback. As long as we constantly remember why we, the Church, exist, and that worship, work, and play are separate categories with separate pastoral and lay responsibilities, we will be OK. My encouragement to parents is this: We want to be careful not to teach our kids that it is OK to skip worship and work if there aren’t enough fun activities, or if the pastor or worship services aren’t “cool” enough. How many youth have left the LCMS and went to the mega church down the road that denies Baptism saves or that Communion forgives sins, because it has brighter lights and better pizza? God is clear that it is solely the parents’ responsibility that their child is learning His Word—in the home, worship, Sunday school, and Bible class. If we teach our kids that it OK that they skip worship and work,because there isn’t enough play, we are instilling in them the wrong expectations. It really is no wonder that many 20-30 somethings have left the Church and spend their time feasting on hotdogs by the lake instead of Christ in the Church. There will come a time when our kids will leave the home and conclude that the pastor is no longer young and fun, rock concerts make them feel better than a ‘christian’ version, and that they don’t desire the congregational social activities anymore (potlucks and business meetings☺). If fun, not forgiveness, is what they are taught to look for in church, we have failed.
Parents, I promise to you with the help of God, as I did in my ordination vows, to faithfully preach and teach you and your kids. I encourage you to make sure they are present to hear Christ’s Word here and in the home. May God pass on the faith to the next generation through these means He has instituted.
P.S. Home Devotional Resources:
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