Youth Ministry: A View From The Ground -- By: James Franklin

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 13:1 (Spring 2016)
Article: Youth Ministry: A View From The Ground
Author: James Franklin


Youth Ministry: A View From The Ground

James Franklin

&

R. Allen Jackson, Ph.D.

James Franklin has served as a youth minster and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana.

R. Allen Jackson is Professor of Youth Education and Collegiate Ministry, Director of the Youth Ministry Institute, and Faculty Advisor for Providence Learning Center at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Editorial Note: The following article was written by James Franklin (JF) and includes interaction by R. Allen Jackson (RAJ).

JF: Student ministry holds an interesting place in the work of the church. A group that focuses on meeting the needs of the extremely eclectic group we call “adolescents” has become a necessity. While much can be said regarding the validity or biblical modeling of such a ministry, it is beyond the scope of this particular essay. The needs of this group of Christians are real and require the church to respond to them. Student ministry does this by being sensitive to the development of cognitive faculties and spiritual needs of teenagers. The unique time frame of this ministry has interesting effects on the methodology and teaching content employed by the leaders. Students are not often challenged theologically or spiritually. Rather, they are sometimes considered to be the oldest members of a larger, non-adult ministry. The result of this unspoken belief is a praxis that caters to entertainment over substance and lowered expectations over vision and possibilities. The local church ends up with a ministry that functions more like a community center and which results in theologically-shallow teenagers, who grow to theologically-shallow adults.

RAJ: While theology as a “talking point” in youth is a relatively recent development, the partnership between families and community of faith in discipleship is not. Some people would like to roll back the clock to a simpler time without the autonomy and distraction of the manic youth culture of the twenty-first century. However, that train has left the station, and theologians and youth ministers are left to navigate the biblical command to make disciples while repairing a faulty youth ministry model that separates students from their parents for most religious instruction.

JF: Theology is often considered to be a discipline reserved for the academic elite. Typical church members understand that theology is important, but they do not understand why this is the case. Neither do they see the need for pursuing theological education. The concept of the pasto...

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