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Fast Food Youth Ministry

Perhaps it’s not surprising that our fast food restaurants long ago discovered that the quickest way to a teen’s heart is not through her stomach but through her brain. We can just chalk it up to good business and savvy marketing. But I sometimes wonder if the Church uses these same tactics in a way that undermines our own efforts to offer teens an authentic, transparent, and mature experience of the gospel.

I wonder if this might be why we continue to see so many teens leave the Church once they graduate high school. We’ve fed them a diet of fast food and entertainment and even though their brains crave it, eventually they realize it just doesn’t satisfy. They walk away thinking, “I know I’m supposed to like all of this, but lately it just doesn’t sit right in my stomach.” And off they go—seeking a more meaningful spiritual experience elsewhere.

Read the rest at Patheos

Fast Food Youth MinistryI thought this post by Brian Kirk was pretty bold. After all, here’s a guy who makes his living in youth ministry who correlates the very industry he works in junk food for student’s souls.

The danger in that perspective is that there is an unintended consequence that could result in churches giving up on youth ministry altogether. That said, I tend to agree with Brian’s premise while wondering about the specifics. I’ve done youth ministry long enough to know that there is some junk food but there is also a whole lot of good stuff.

Question: What are areas of youth ministry that you think are junk food for students souls? What are things that we need to protect as core to youth ministry? 

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4 thoughts on “Fast Food Youth Ministry

  1. I would have to agree, sadly. I think youth ministries have turned to junk food by trying to please people instead of God and trying to keep up with “the Church down the street”.
    Here are some of the things I’ve seen that I feel are junk foodish:
    *being cool (showing kids it’s cool or hip to be Christian, YP’s are especially guilty of trying to do this.)
    * focus on hype (“You’ve got to check out our group, we’re crazy!”) which tends to forget the gospel
    * Program focused groups (although it’s very popular w

    1. …within the Church, being focused on programming takes our eyes away from students and Christ and puts our focus on attendance, curriculums, etc.)

  2. I hate it when youth group comes with a free toy. I’ve seen too many events where the lure to the event is a chance to win an ipod. Then the speaker does a Jesus lesson for an hour or whatever and the ipod raffle is the last thing of the night. Gimmicks aren’t necessary in sharing the gospel. I think we need to protect the relationship and be consistent in providing a glimpse of God’s kingdom. I can’t go back to some fast food restaurants because they keep screwing up the order. My hope with youth ministry is that we won’t do our version of giving someone a cheeseburger instead of a chicken sandwich. Serve God, not gimmicks. (Does that go too far into the analogy?)

  3. More and more the temptation is to do the “fast food” programming – slick promos, entertain the kids, high energy gaming, glitzy stage and video. More and more I ask “what would really be solid, substantial food?” I’ve found that relationships and developing the faith journey of the leadership is much more substantial (and less costly, by the way) than the alternative. It does, however, take a bit more planning – having to spend more time in the “kitchen,” so to speak.

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