It's called Life Series. These powerful, short and amazingly well done videos are specifically designed to help new believers to grow in their new LIFE in Christ.
Before I get any flack for concept stealing, I want to let you know that I got permission from my friend Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for Christmas and, The Case for....just about everything dealing with the subject of Jesus, to spin his "Case for" theme toward youth ministry.
Lee wholeheartedly agreed that this is a message I should tackle. He, too, is convinced that this next generation needs reached and that it's going to take youth leaders, parents and pastors fully aligned with the right kind of philosophy to reach them.
I hesitate to even use the term "right kind of youth ministry" because I'm actually not referring to any particular youth ministry model or program. Models and programs are fine and necessary, but what makes or break them is, not the program itself but the philosophy behind them.
The old business adage, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" is also true for youth ministry. When the right kind of culture is present in a youth ministry almost any model or program will work. And when the right kind of culture is not present then it doesn't matter what program or model you have in place, because it's doomed to fail.
But, before I make a case for the right kind (philosophy/mindset) of youth ministry, allow me to make a case for youth ministry in general. Why is youth ministry strategically important for the church?
Firstly, and this is something we all intuitively know, the VAST majority of people who put their faith in Jesus do so by the age of 18. I'm sure that you, like me, have read the statistics that the younger a person is the more likely they are to come to Christ.
The movie Rocky captures the spirit of a lone fighter with the odds stacked against him who prevails in the end. What's interesting about this film is that the same caliber of courage depicted by Rocky is what it took to actually make the movie.
Someone once defined insanity as "doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results." Isn't this what typical youth ministry is doing? We have the same basic strategies as we did 30 years ago and we are getting the same basic results (maybe even less!)
Jesus was a youth leader. When Peter, Jesus and the rest of the disicples went into Capernaum only Peter and Jesus paid the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27). If you cross-reference this passage with Exodus 30:14 it becomes clear that the temple tax was only for those 20 years old and older.
If I'm reading these passages correctly, Jesus was a youth leader, with only one adult sponsor (and one really rotten kid named Judas.)
But within the span of 3 1/2 years (about the time a typical teenager is in high school minus summer vacations) he turned those teenagers into teen leaders. After the ascension here's how the big dawg religious leaders of the day viewed them, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13.
These teen leaders went on .to take the Gospel to the ends of the world. Some even went on to write books that would be included in the canon of Scripture and be used of God to build the church on a firm theological foundation.
Every youth leader has a false dilemma. This "dilemma" is whether or not to focus on evangelism or discipleship with their youth ministry.
The typical youth leader's thought process may go something like this, "If I focus on evangelism the kingdom will grow and so will my youth group. But if I focus on discipleship my teens will grow spiritually. I guess I'll focus on discipleship first and then my teens will be ready to evangelize."
But how has that approach worked with the adults in our churches? As a result of this "disciple first/evangelize later" approach we have a bunch of Christians filling our pews that may know basic doctrine but have lost their passion, urgency and vision to reach the lost. As a matter of fact the average Christian adult has never shared the Gospel with one of their peers.
But the youth leader's dilemma is really no dilemma at all if we take a look at the ministry of Jesus to his young disciples. Jesus had a "disciple now/evangelize now" approach that took his disciples deep into the Word while taking them wide (on mission) into the world.
1. Put them in situations where they have something to risk (mission trips, evangelistic outreaches, etc.) Matthew 10:38
Evangelism is often looked at as the red headed step child (apologies to any reading this right now) of the youth ministry world. We deal with it because we are legally required to in the by-laws of the Bible but, down deep in our hearts, we are more passionate about