Live blog: Connecting Church and Home conference — main session 2

Communications Staff — March 21, 2009

Speaker: Steve Wright, Assistant Pastor of Student Ministries at Providence Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C.

Live blogger: Kim Davidson

1. Wright’s journey

Wright used Psalm 78:4-6.

A college teammate led Wright to Christ. He said he didn’t have a clue what youth ministry was when he accepted his first job. A youth specialties clip art book helped him determine his schedule, which was very activity driven.

He began to do ministry in his own strength, with a great deal of pride. In this process, a couple of questions came to his mind: ‘Are all these activities working? Are these activities biblical?’

Five troubling indicators regarding the next generation:

1) Retention: why are we losing people between the ages of 18 and 21?

2) Career: why are those called to youth ministry not all lasting?

  • 33% are leaving annually.
  • If we aren’t sticking to a task for a long length of time, something is not right.
  • High stress, low status, low pay, staff relationships are poor, high turnover.
  • Not for the faint of heart.

3) Evangelism

Alvin Reid: ‘Over the preceding 20 years, the number of full-time youth pastors has grown dramatically … meanwhile, during that same time span, the numbers of young people won to Christ dropped at about as fast a rate.’

4) Biblical literacy

Christian Smith on soul searching: ‘Scholars who have looked at young Christians say their spiritual drift is in part the result of a lack of knowledge about their faith. Therefore, they really don’t know what they believe.’

5) Wright’s personal struggle

What about the next generation of Wrights? Will my kids continue with Christ; treasure Christ above all else?

2. Turning point

One of the things Wright became convinced of: God had given parents the primary role of discipling their children. It is hard to compel kids to treasure Christ above all else, when many of their parents treasured all else above Christ. Wright said he was building a ministry model that allowed parents to abdicate their role as primary disciplers of their children.

3. Where should I start?

Wright said he had no plan of action for discipleship in his own family. The truth was he was teaching his children to value recreation, sports, games: basically all other kinds of treasures above Christ. That is what Wright was modeling for his kids.

Wright asked his kids: ‘What are we treasuring and what should we treasure?’ Humility. His kids were hungry for this. Other students are hungry for this. Parents are hearing this and getting inspired.

Elements of a plan of action:

1) It needs to look a lot like it did for Nehemiah.

Nehemiah saw the city in ruins. He had compassion and he prayed and fasted. As leaders, we have to have the same burden. We need a passion for our families. They need Christ.

2) We need to look to biblical theology

How is God’s Word leading us? If we aren’t turning to Scripture where else are we going to turn? Corporate models? Disney? More spinning plates? Secular books? The treasure is beautiful. We do not need to glamorize it or have big drums to support it.

3) Start in your home.

John Angell James on the home: ‘Here fix your center, here direct your aim, here concentrate your efforts, your energies and your prayers. Remember their religious education is your business. Whatever aids you call in from ministers or teachers, you never must, you never can, you never should delegate this work. God will hold you responsible for the religion of your children – so far as means go.’

See the Gospel as the greatest thing. That God gets bigger, when the work of the Spirit gets mightier, when grace is more, when sin is uglier, when Gospel roots go down deeper, when eternity gets louder. Keep this in mind: never let the Gospel get smaller in your hearts.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

Apply now for summer or fall studies

Classes begin in June & Aug.