Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reflections on Discipleship, Appendix: Youth and Doctrine

In support of our thesis that principle (or theology and doctrine in our case) is far more practical and important than pragmatism from the pulpit, enter Time Magazine. Apparently one of the latest trends in youth ministry is to return to the fundamentals of theology and doctrine, and to help students encounter God on a much more meaningful, and might I add, substantive, level.

Isn’t it ironic how the basic principles of the Church for 2000 years seem to rise to the surface no matter how much make-up and propping we put over it?

Two snippets from the article:

Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugarcoated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early '90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at all. In a national survey recently released by Barna Group, a polling firm that tracks religious trends, only 33% of kids 13 to 18 responded that they attend a youth-group event regularly--a 3% drop since 1998. And while nearly 75% pray each week, that number has declined 9%.

Then there is Christian Smith, the Notre Dame sociologist recently known for his profound study, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.

The vast majority of teens who call themselves Christians haven't been well educated in religious doctrine and therefore don't really know what they believe…