This past week, our church hosted an event for High School and College students. It was certainly successful in that we accomplished the goals: draw together high school and college students, celebrate the Gospel, and proclaim the gospel. Mission accomplished. It was a great night with sincere, worship, biblical preaching, and lives were truly changed.

However, as I reflect on evening, I realize that we did several things that fly in the face of conventional youth ministry/college ministry wisdom.

First, we did not offer food. None. Zip. Nada. No all you can eat pizza, no world’s longest sundae. We did not bait the hook with teen friendly food.

Second, we had no games, contests, or other silliness. We did absolutely nothing to make the evening fun because we figured the music and preaching would be enjoyable enough.

Third, the music was honest worship music and even included a few hymns. Not a single “hand motion” was to be found. We did not try to pretend that a top 40 song was worship and we did not seek to entertain anyone but the LORD.

Finally, the sermon was (and I am not exaggerating) 70 minutes long. Joshua Hedger is a great preacher and he had everyone’s attention as he preached 70 minutes and covered more than two chapters worth of scripture (Ecclesiastes! No one told him you can’t teach the Old Testament to young people).

We broke every youth ministry rule I know, and those students loved it. We had a big crowd of believers and non-believers alike, and they loved it. Why? Because Jesus is enough. It occurred to me that many churches try very hard to come up with other reasons why someone might come to church. It is as though we are apologizing because God is so boring. How ironic that we might teach that Christ is above all, but treat him like a tacked-on portion of our service.

Now, before you compose that angry email, let me say that I don’t think pizza parties, silly songs, and games are wrong. I just think youth ministers tend to rely on them as a crutch. In doing so, we inadvertently express that God is boring and His church has nothing to offer but entertainment. Christ is enough. If you can’t believe that, maybe entertainment really is all you have to offer.

Advertisements