Should games be offered at youth groups?


Without asking or even wanting, my wife and I found ourselves in our church's youth ministry. I've been saved for five years and my wife three. I have a ministry dilemma.

I believe in the things that your congregation believes in, providing for others their spiritual needs. As a result, I got rid of the "fluff" in the youth group. By listening to what God has placed on our hearts, the ministry has gone from about 5 to 30 young men and women. Not to say that we don't do fun things like watch movies or BBQ, but my wife and I wanted to focus on the word of God, Scripture reading, and memory verses and just being there for them if they need a friend. My take is if the children leave because we are not playing games every night, then those that remain will be the core group, and we will raise them up to reach those that left.

I opposed my pastor because he tried to do what I would say is bribe the teens to come to church service on Sunday. He offered to sponsor trips to theme parks etc. For those that attended church on Sunday service, he would pay their way. For those that did not come, they would have to pay their own way. Some teens were beginning to come on their own. I feared that this offer to them might have set what we were trying to develop in the teens back (character building).

Did we do the right thing in minimizing the games, and was I wrong in telling our Senior Pastor that I felt that the Holy Spirit didn't need a hand and he shouldn't bait the teens to come when I feel that the Holy Spirit will lead them. Also, it should be made known that of the 90% of the teen group is not members of our church, some are even attending church elsewhere.


I'm a bit puzzled by your note in that I'm not sure about what you are looking. Perhaps that is the cause of your dilemma. You state that you believe that a church's responsibility is to teach the sacred Scriptures and that it is not a social club. I hope that you base that belief upon actual Scripture and not on simple personal opinion. You were asked to teach youth and by focusing more of your efforts on actual teaching the number attending has risen dramatically.

Your senior pastor (a position not found in the Bible, by the way), has a different goal. He is interested in numbers, not strength. Thus he is willing to use worldly means to attract people. The problem is that the ultimate outcome will eventually be a decrease in true Christians. It is one of the points of the parable of the Sower. "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful" (Matthew 13:22).

As you appear to realize, you get that for what you aim. You are finding young people interested in God and His teachings. He is pulling in people whose focus is on the world. I'm sure he thinks that once they are in the door, he can change their focus, but since he has already compromised himself, the change will never come.

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:17-18). Paul is not saying that baptism is bad. He talks about baptism at length in numerous places. But his point is that his focus is not on how many people he can put underwater. He is not focused on numbers but on teaching God's Word. By this proper focus, he knows that the increase will naturally come on its own (Romans 1:16; I Corinthians 3:5-7).

Continuing, Paul said, "For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (I Corinthians 1:19-29).

I was reading today an interesting article about the YMCA. Did you know that it once started out as a Bible study group? Over the years though, it lost sight of its purpose because it used worldly means to attract worldly members. By the 1980's it removed all references to Jesus from its charters, even though its official name is Young Men's Christian Association. Why? Because they were driven to attract more members; thus, they did not want beliefs to stand in the way. There is a token movement to reverse its trend, but I would predict that it will fail because the members of its board, being of the world, will focus their attention on the bottom line and not the teaching of God's Word.

Perhaps this might seem radical, but knowing the eventual outcome of your senior pastor's strategy, why aren't you looking for a congregation of people who have their focus on God and not on the world? And if one doesn't exist, why not start a congregation in your area whose focus is on pleasing God by doing God's will as He instructed?

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