all youth workers are terrified!

this e-column really, really frustrates me. it’s a post about the swirl of media attention and panic surrounding the (truly) overly-hyped and HIGHLY suspect “fact” that all but a few christian american teenagers will leave the church and we’ll have no teenagers in a generation or two.

it just ticks me off.

the tone of the column is certainly a bit nasty, and much of the comments the author makes are a bit over-the-top, to be sure. BUT NO MORE OVER THE TOP THAN CREATING A HISSY-FIT OF FEAR AS A REACTION TO A DUBIOUS CLAIM.

what frustrates me so much is that — in the new york times article, and even moreso in this column — all christian youth workers are being lumped together into this (i believe) loud-but-minority response. i’ve just left the closing session of the charlotte site for the national youth workers convention, a collection of 2900 christian youth workers. at all four sites combined, we had 13,000 christian youth workers gather this fall. never ONCE did i encounter this fear-based call to arms. well, that’s not completely accurate, i suppose: i encountered it only in conversations where youth workers were expressing their frustration, disdain and/or distance from this kind of thinking.

calling together big meetings to ‘rally the troops’ and ‘wage war’ might be wonderfully effective at raising funds from people desperate to regain some (misguided) sense that we are a ‘christian nation’. but it’s not biblical, and it certainly isn’t jesus-y.
AND — this is the point of my rant here — it’s not what thousands and thousands of christian youth workers think! the fear-mongers do not speak for all of us, or even most of us.

10 thoughts on “all youth workers are terrified!”

  1. I feel sorry for that guy – what a sad existence to feel that way.

    On another topic – great special on cnn last night (I believe it was a rerun) on Orphans of AIDS in Africa. You can see the whole video if you go to and search “Orphans of AIDS” or Christiane Amanpour. I don’t know how to email the link to you. Could be a great resource for youthworkers to show along w/ the OneLife stuff.

  2. Well I almost made it through the article without wanting to fire off an email to this guy but the part about christians producing Columbine shooters really sent me over the edge. So sad…:(

  3. chris (and julie), i think your frustration is potentially mis-directed. yes, the column’s author uses overstatement and hyperbole. but i don’t believe our frustration should be with him, or with people who hold this opinion! i believe our frustration should be with our christian brothers and sisters who are promoting a fear-based, battle mentality. really, i think this column’s anger and sarcasm and indignation is merely the ‘fruit’ of the crappy planting being done in the spirit of fear (which, i might add, in case i haven’t said this quite enough times, is NOT a biblical response).

  4. Marko, not only did I not encounter a “fear based call to arms” in Charlotte, I found just the opposite to be true. There seems to be a new openness to move beyond fear and legalism, to discover new and better ways to help students be in relationship with Jesus, and in Tony Campolo’s words “to join God where He is already at work.” I see us being more willing to be radical Christ-followers, and if that is true, then let me quote Yac and give a big “Whoo-Hooo!”

  5. I think our frustration should be directed at both the author and at those who caused him to fire off this rant. Less discerning readers may not catch all of the overstatements and hyperbole, and add this to their growing stack of “evidence” and “facts” that Christianity is outmoded, outdated, crazy, etc. That frustrates me. I also (like all of us) hate being lumped into a group and labeled.

    What frustrates me even more is the war language, drawing lines in the sand, “making soldiers,” etc. that gave this guy so much material to work with. As we’ve all said and heard- it’s divisive, not “Jesus-y” and it makes it harder for all of us to see God working.

    There is some good to be found in this article- God used the author to remind me very plainly why it is that I’m a youth worker.

  6. Have those of you speaking out against Battlecry been to one of their events or read any of their materials? I have not been to an event but I am teaching their RiseUp class right now. Whats wrong with challenging them to give up tv for a month or dating for a year? Yes those are radical steps but when was being a Christian not radical? When was being a Christian considered normal or easy?

    I have read several of Battlecrys books, I have read everything on their website, watched their videos and talked to youth that have been to their events. I don’t believe they are doing anything differently than any lesson I have seen taught on putting on the armor of God except they are doing it with passion.

    So what if the statistics are slightly wrong or even way wrong? At what point is it not worth getting excited about? Would it not be a crisis if only 50% of todays youth would grow up to be Christians? In this era of political correctness I’m sick of the teens I come into contact with putting tolerance above all else to the point where they would drive a friend to get an abortion or to a crack house without even trying to talk them out of it because its not up to them to tell others how to live. I’ve read a couple articles lately condemning Battlecry’s methods but I don’t see any one of those authors getting excited about reaching teens or offering anything but criticism. Maybe the youth groups your involved with are growing but until recently ours wasn’t and our post high kids are all but gone. We haven’t done been much more than be babysitters in our youth program. A year ago we changed that and the tide is turning.

    Marko you think its misguided to want to be a Christian nation? Does that mean we shouldn’t even try to elect Christian leaders or support laws that fall into line with Christian values? If you think we’re aren’t at war with the devil then you’ve already lost.

  7. Thanks for this post marko. It echos much of what I’ve been thinking. I’m especially bothered because these statistics being cited are extremely suspect.
    The statistic that I’ve seen floating around states “88% of youth will leave the church in their twenties and not return.” I’ve seen various people in our church look at this stat and go into a frenzy of panic. It’s driving me crazy!

    It drove me to my own little rant about two weeks ago. You can read it . Warning, it’s a long rant!

  8. Right on Marko! Charlotte was great and had a wonderful openness to the grace of God. I read a few comments speaking of BattleCry…our youth group made a decision after attending last year’s Philly event not to go this year because it was full of ‘propaganda’ of a culture war and an emphasis on ATF merchandise rather than focusing students on grace, forgiveness, and love…truly the marks of Jesus’ life.

  9. here, here! i best at least 10,000 of those youth workers were once youth in churches somewhere on the planet, eh? and we know that they don’t leave the church until at least 3 or 4 churches bash them around first! :p (just kidding!)

    i’m not even giving the article a read as the NYT article iced me enough to last a good couple of months!

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