I have been a subscriber to the Journal of Student Ministries since it has been publish (just about a year now). I don’t always agree with the articles written in it. However most of the articles make me think alot about how we do ministry and the things that are broken in the way we (as Americans and even globally) do student ministry. There are things that are broken and there are some who are striving to fix it. There was an interesting article in last months issue titled ‘All Work and no Play: Why Students See Church as Irrelevant’. It was interesting and I would encourage you to read it. In the article Bo Cassell says this,

“There’s a theological schism. The worship service and preaching hit teenagers like a motivational speech to try to do better. They see a well-polished crowd that goes through the motions and seems to know what they’re doing. But teenagers are acutely aware of their own failures and don’t feel they can measure up. They want to draw closer to God, but there is little emphasis on grace in the worship service, which is the element they are starving to hear.”

Is this true? Do students find our worship services boring because they are longing to hear about God’s grace and how to deal with their failures and shortcomings? I think our student honestly want to move past those…learn how to live with them even. They don’t want to know that they are failures…they want real tangible ways to deal with that which they already know.

How can our teens not know they are failures? Everything in our culture tells some type of teenager that are a failure in one respect or another. Failure for our teens is everywhere. Music, clothing, news, tv shows, movies, school…it’s everywhere. This mantra of “in order to be cool you have to do this or that.” Our students long for acceptance. They acceptance they long for is that of Jesus Christ. Who is pointing them to Him?

These are some tough questions. One’s that I wrestle with often. The thing is I want our student ministry to be done well. There is always fine tuning to be done and there always will be. The thing is that ministry, spirituality is messy. We are dealing with sinful people and it is always messy…dirty. But Jesus loves these people just as he loves his children. Are we pointing our kids towards a cross of grace or judgment?

There is a fine balance…how do we achieve it?