So says David Fitch.
I think youth groups often do things that work against the formation of our youth into life with Christ and His Mission. They also soak up huge time and resources in ways that are a detriment to the community life of the church. I think it would be good for parents seeking churches to think through these issues.
Prototype youth groups are built on the worst of modernist assumptions concerning the way human beings develop as cultural beings. They play into the worse impulses of parents who don’t get what is happening right before their very eyes when their children start to take on the moral formation of the ubiquitous culture at large. (Parents want young hip experts to save their kids – UH THAT DON’T WORK!!). They think the answer is to somehow get their children to a place where the youth culture attracts them and somehow makes Christianity attractive to their age group. All these things, I argue, work against the child growing up into a vital and real relationship with the living God and what He has done in Christ for the world.
I think I pretty much agree with this. Some caveats here and there. But in the main the trajectory of David’s view is correct.
One of the first things a church needs to do is not program for teens but stand up to the parents who demand that extraordinary resources be spent on so few with so little results. Apart from the question of whether or not youth ministry traditionally conceived is effective, there is also the question of stewardship, of whether so much money should be spent on so few.
Once again, see the book The Family Based Youth Ministry published by InterVarsity Press.