Our God never changes and his truth is eternal… so how can you do youth group”differently”? God may not have changed, but people and culture are changing constantly! With that change comes changes in how we look at God and treat our relationship with our creator. Unfortunately, that change is often combined with a tendency to manipulate God’s instruction into something more recognizable to us.
It’s safe to say that many people have done that with Christianity today. The way we see it, mainstream western culture sees Christianity in two ways:
- Something that needs to change with the times to be more ‘current’ and match with what our society views as “moral”.
- Something that is driven by our traditional religious mentalities on “moral life” as it has been in the past.
Both of these perspectives are a little off because they miss the biggest question every youth minister should ask themselves: does my relationship with God reflect the type of love and devotion described in the Bible?
At CROSSROADS, we make it a habit to question the norm however that term may be defined. For the seeker, we challenge them to question what they have perceived as “Christian” and see if that matches with who God says he truly is. For the life-long church goer, we challenge them to question their version of cultural Christianity to see if their private and public life reflects the type of inner and outer devotion preached by Jesus and the apostles. The bottom line is this: we want youth, and parents, to be free to learn and grow as believers in Christ free of the shackles of what they may have thought in the past in hopes that they will see God past all the layers of cultural religion that we (society) have placed on the truth of the Bible.
Why is this important?
Some of this may sound a little cynical or like we are trying to say no one is doing “religion” right. That’s not what we’re after; we’re after making sure that we are doing Christianity in a way that honors God.
This idea is mirrored throughout scripture in the New and Old Testaments. In the Old Testament, the book of Malachi describes an instance where the “church leaders” were being called out for honoring the practice of religion more than honoring their devotion to God. The response of Malachi, God’s prophet, was pretty extreme…
“I wish one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would no longer kindle a useless fire on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Armies, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. (Malachi 1:10, CSB)
God, speaking through Malachi, says that it would actually be better for the church to completely shut it’s doors than it would be to continue pretending like they are honoring God’s name. That’s harsh. What this passage does is shows us the standard God has for following him: He doesn’t want halfhearted devotion and lip service. God’s desire is for complete obedience. The good news for us is that the grace of Christ forgives us when we fall short of offering that complete obedience, but the calling is still the same. At CROSSROADS, we are striving to grow teenagers who are obedient in their love of God, obedient in their understanding of God, and obedient in their feeling of the love of God.
We have to admit this is pretty heavy stuff, but no one ever said that Christianity done God’s way was easy or could be understood overnight (actually, the Bible says exactly the opposite!). If all that sounds like a bit too much, or some of it got a little “heavy, high-church” sounding, let’s just stick with this: we’re here to seek God, not religion. We desire for each teen to know the God who loves them and to understand what it means to be a child of a loving and glorious Creator.
Regardless of background, denomination, or maturity, every adolescent deserves to know the God who loved them so much that he would send his only son to die on a cross so that they may have eternal life.
Join us as we do youth group differently.