Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Piano Teacher (part 1)

When I was young I took piano lessons from my Aunt Carolyn. I hated it! I could think of a truckload of things better to than practice for a half hour per day.

There were weeks when I had barely practiced. I’d sit down at the ivories in Aunt Carolyn’s den and struggle to sound better than I did last week. She knew immediately that the last time I sat down in front of the piano was a week before. No piano was practiced for an entire week!

This happens all the time in youth ministry. I’ve been in the piano teacher role many times. On Sundays we teach the teens who show up the things of God and how they can live them out in their lives every day. It doesn’t take long before we discover that the last time they’ve practiced them was a week ago – last Sunday. No faith was practiced for an entire week!

It's easy to blame the kids for this. Adolescence is the culprit. And after all, kids nowadays are lazier because of video games. Right?

But what if we took a look at the system? What if it's partially to blame? Has the system itself caused teens to have a passive faith?

Think about the role most youth workers and youth pastors fill. Whether they're paid or not their job is to come up with something spiritually engaging week in and week out. I read an article recently that said youth pastors should spend a minimum of 4 hours on every talk they deliver and 2 hours for every bible study. Nothing wrong with that. I believe in preparation. But have we become so effective at delivering our spiritual service that we've created a group of spiritual consumers incapable of functioning on their own?

For years my goal as youth pastor was to equip a group of young people to serve Jesus. I didn't want to be in the high priestly role dispensing a weekly dose of spiritual food. But like it or not, that's what I became anyway. Teens would ask, "When can we have an outreach event so my friend can hear about Jesus?" or inform me that "I'm trying to get my friend to come to church so you can explain things to them." Could it be that teens allow the professional paid youth pastor to do most of the spiritual stuff for them?

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