The Decline of Youth Work

[Gene Edward Veith notes][veith] an article about the decline of youth work in churches these days. Apparently, it’s hard to get the interest of teens and keep them engaged at church, and getting harder. Maybe our own teens have something to say about that. (Read Veith’s article first, then leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.) He makes the case that a more rigorous faith — including genuine mysteries, and a good deal of ongoing, practical effort from participants — may fare better. Meanwhile, youth programs that focus on fun more than on the serious and somewhat radical business of salvation just blend into all the other “fun” alternatives in a teen’s life.

It sounds to me as though some teens (or “youth”) are simply more interested in being treated like adults than like children. That’s why I consider our Divine Service, Bible classes, and other activities to be for our youth just as much as for independent adults. I’m not opposed to doing fun things together, but our expertise and focus at Bethany and Concordia are in God’s Word, the certainty of salvation, and living as Christians in a fallen world. That’s where we’re different from 99% of the other things our youth could do. That should be important to us all. But is it enough to engage us at church? Youth too?

What do you think? By the way, the comments on Veith’s blog posts are usually worth reading too.