I have spent the last 10 years serving churches as a Youth Minister.
Some great churches.
Some not so great.
One absolutely dysfunctional.
Numbers were (and still are) the sole measure of success.
The Machinery of the Church makes my weep.
Rob Bell was interviewed by Youth Worker Journal about youth ministry…
I found this bit interesting:
RB: The dominant paradigm in churches is production, not discipleship. It’s about how to keep kids coming—how are the numbers? In the gospels, whenever there were large crowds, Jesus gave a difficult teaching that thinned out the crowd. Over and over, He chose those moments: John 6—Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood. Nice. Very accessible for kids. There is a certain pattern where He’s trying to find out who is serious. Youth workers are put in this position where their paychecks are based on how many people they can keep in the place. When they read the gospels, they realize this whole system seems to be going the other direction. Many youth pastors I’ve met are promoting something they don’t believe.
YWJ: Like what?
RB: They’re told by the senior pastor to encourage the students to attend the service where there’s a seven-part sermon on raising funds for a giant building, and kids don’t really buy it. At the same time, the kids are wearing a red bracelet and becoming passionate about AIDS and water in Darfur. So the youth pastors and the kids sit in a system that says the preservation of this system is the first priority, and they look around at these giant issues of justice that are demanding a generation to step up and do something about it; and guess what they do?
I know what they do: They leave.