Raising the Bar: Ministry to Students in the New Millennium -- By: Alvin L. Reid

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 19:2 (Spring 2002)
Article: Raising the Bar: Ministry to Students in the New Millennium
Author: Alvin L. Reid

Raising the Bar:
Ministry to Students in the New Millennium

Alvin L. Reid

Professor of Evangelism
Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

Faculty lecture presented at
Binkley Chapel
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina, May 1, 2002


In the eighteenth century God shook the American colonies in a revival movement known by historians as the First Great Awakening. In his treatise entitled Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England, written to describe and defend the movement, Jonathan Edwards observed the role of youth in this revival, while indicting older believers for their indifference:

The work has been chiefly amongst the young; and comparatively but few others have been made partakers of it. And indeed it has commonly been so, when God has begun any great work for the revival of his church; he has taken the young people, and has cast off the old and stiff-necked generation.2

These are stern words for our day as well!

I believe God has opened before the leaders of the church today a great and open door to see a generation of radicals unleashed on the culture. I believe God has assembled an army:

  • an army utilized by cultists, but spurned by the church;
  • an army enlisted by our government in times of war, but too often left on the sidelines of spiritual conflict;
  • an army chosen to represent nations at the highest level of athletic endeavor, but pushed aside into secondary status in the body of Christ;
  • an army challenged academically in school while given baby food spiritually in church;
  • an army poised to live for Christ, but too often told just to stay out of the way.

The army to which I refer is the army of young people in the nation today. Why young people? First, over the past three years, many youth pastors and young people have demonstrated a shift in the commitment level of this generation of youth. Second, my study of spiritual awakenings historically has caused me to wonder why more has not been written on the role of youth in the activity of God (perhaps because old people write church history texts!). Third, discussions with colleagues and others have led me to the view that what we have done in youth ministry has not been effective. Entire cottage industries related to youth ministry have produced a subculture...

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