Take a moment and think with me.
Look at all the popular trends in Christianity today. Focus on youth groups, attracting the unbelievers, community outreach, entertaining the children.
What’s missing? Growing the believers in their own relationship with Christ. It has been deemed as a personal subject, something that you have to work out on your own. This isn’t healthy. We should be learning and growing in Christ as He is proclaimed from the pulpit. If all you ever hear from the pulpit is “3 key principles for…” or “7 steps to a…”, then I would venture to say (and I know this sounds harsh) that you are not growing in that church.
If you are in a church where the pastor preaches the person and work of Christ instead of 5-step formulas he found in a self-help book that has a Christian twist, then you have a rare pastor. You are in one of the unusual churches in America. I happen to be blessed that I am in a church where the pastor faithfully brings us, from virtually everywhere in the Bible, the finished work of Christ. He points out how this or that demonstrates Christ’s love, or shows His holiness or faithfulness or graciousness, etc. Bringing with it a new dimension that you may not have seen. It gives you a reason to go home rejoicing in Christ.
If you are a pastor and you are reading this, first, thank you for taking the time to read, and second, thank you for your labor and diligence in the Word each week. Strive to bring to your congregation the finished work of Christ, and show them the person of Jesus, their Saviour. If you want to share the 10-step system that you found, find or create a separate event for that. The Sunday service/s is/are not the place for motivational talks and pep rallies. The church was designed expressly for the believers, and they need to grow in their relationships with their Lord.
Youth-pastors: Don’t focus on teen problems and relationship help. First off, not every teen hates their parents, not all of them want to commit suicide, or are having problems with a significant other. Make your focus Christ, and your message His glorious life and death on their behalf. Make it practical as well. Yes, this is a tough job. But remember, you it isn’t easy to be a pastor. Youth-group should be more than group activities/parties and a separate service on Sunday. The kids in the youth-group should be growing so that they don’t need to be in a youth focused environment. (this is hard because the entire world is youth-focused, and they don’t have any intentions of growing them up)
If you have any thoughts, leave a comment. I didn’t include much here, and I hope you can bring some thoughts of your own.