Category Archives: Youth Ministry

Horse Sense

Each winter here in Fort Worth, Texas we have an event called the Fort Worth Stock Show. It’s kind of like a state fair with more emphasis on the showing of livestock from the area ranchers. One of the more popular events at the Stock Show is the cutting horse competition.

Cutting horses are horses that are specially bred and trained for the “cutting” of individual cows from amongst a herd of cattle. In other words, the horse has the ability to zero in on a particular cow of the riders choosing and separate the cow from the rest of the herd by darting back and forth in front of the cow keeping it from rejoining the herd. The horses are bred to be quick and agile and their instincts are to keep individual cows separated. It’s in their nature.

As I’ve said before, my wife and I have been on a journey to find a new church for over a year now. It probably wouldn’t have been such a hard task  if we didn’t start out on the search with too many preconceived notions of how “church should be done”. We’re learning. A lot.

Nevertheless, one of the things we’ve noticed far too much of is what appears to be a “select” few kids who always seem to dominate the youth group. They’re almost always female, pretty, and have an outgoing and charismatic personality. In other words, they’re the kind of girls who, at least at first, other people are drawn to. In a youth group of 50 or 60 kids, there might be around 5 or 6 who seem to be in this “inner circle”.

These girls tend to run the show. The worship music choice, the activities, skits, talent competitions, etc seem to be all dominated by these “inner circle” girls. In church where there’s home groups, they all congregate and dominate a home group, usually the youth pastor’s. I guess what disturbs my wife and I the most, though, is the way they seem to even dominate who’s friends with who within the church.

Back to the cutting horse illustration.

When new kids who are attractive are brought to the youth group by their friends, whether these new kids are male or female, these “inner circle” girls go into “cutting horse” mode and cut these new, attractive, “right stuff” kids from the rest of the “common herd”. These new kids can never be part of the “inner circle”, but they are kept close and hugged, loved, and shown lots of “Christian fellowship”. These new “right stuff” kids are basically “cut” from the friends that brought them to church in the first place. Not in an overtly obvious way, but by having their time dominated by these “inner circle” girls in a “Christian love” sort of way where the friends that brought them to youth group in the first place are basically left on the outside looking in.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in high school. My wife tells me this is the way a lot of teen girls are acting these days. This behavior is subtle enough it looks an awful lot like these girls are “on fire for the Lord”. Always flitting from person to person, hugging, chatting, loving on these new kids. But if you pay close attention, it’s easy to see it’s only with a certain kind of new kid. A “right stuff” kid.

Look at this scripture in  James 2

2:1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. (ESV)

You see, youth group leaders, or any other Christian for that matter, can stand on stage all day long and talk about the outreach to the poor and homeless they’re doing in downtown. They can talk about all of the food distributions they’re doing for the low-income families in the community. They can even cry while watching the video of their recent mission trip to Haiti. But if they can’t look around within their own circle of influence and realize that  preferential treatment of some of their fellow Christians at the exclusion of others within the group is no more “un-Christian” than ignoring the plight of the poor in Haiti, then their hearts are growing hard.

This type of behavior is the way the world runs things. Look at Hollywood and who it is we worship in this country. Good looks and charismatic personalities are worshipped in this country. But we’re Christians. We don’t march to the same set of rules the world does therefore your youth group shouldn’t operate the way the rest of the world does.

There’s always those that are on the “outer fringe” in church. Especially in youth groups. Take a look around. Are you showing preferential treatment to those with the”right stuff”? Is it only the “pretty people” who seem to be running the show? Are the “less than right stuff” people being included equally?

Parents. Open your eyes to the behavior of your kids. Especially your girls. Be honest in your assessment. What kind of friends are they chasing after? Underdogs or Top Dogs?

Remember, in God’s kingdom the last are first. In the bible, the ones who “got it all goin’ on” here on Earth, well, that’s their reward.

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Whether ’tis Nobler In The Mind…..

I should be working rather than writing this post. But  that’s one of the advantages of working from home…..I can make up the hours later this weekend. Besides I can’t get the subject of this post off my mind as it’s far too disturbing.

I was making the rounds of my usual blogs this morning and ran across the following video clip of Stacey Campbell at some sort of youth conference. I guess I had no idea she was targeting the youth specifically now.

I first saw  Stacey Campbell when I was watching the Todd Bentley “ordination” in Florida a couple of years ago. In one of the most bizarre demonic manifestations I have ever seen, she “prophesied” over Todd Bentley. Yes, I said demonic. And I guess I’ll say it again, this thing she does is demonic and “snake-like”. Pure and simple. There is not a shred of scriptural evidence her behavior is from God, and to the contrary, due to the complete lack of the Gospel and the focus on “signs and wonders” is quite un-biblical.

I have to confess, I haven’t watched this thing all the way through. I can’t. It gets me too worked up…..and sick. I guess I’m only commenting on this video because of some recent events in my life where people I know have slowly began to re-involve themselves with this “circle” of people Stacey Campbell runs in.

Nevertheless, here it goes……. I’ll be quick about it.

1) (0:15) What exactly is a “corporate impartation” and where is that found in the Bible? I realize God “corporately imparted” gifts in the Book of Acts, but exactly where does it say we are to focus our church services on them? And where are we to seek and pray for “corporate annointings”?

2) (0:40) Yes, Stacey, we are to be “doers of the word”. Through humble submission, we are to go and make disciples and preach the Gospel. The Gospel is the death, burial, resurrection of Christ and repentance and forgiveness of sins. It is NOT signs and wonders. It is NOT a “prophetic” anointing. It is NOT focus on ourselves.  It is ALWAYS the death, burial, resurrection of Christ with repentance and forgiveness of sins. Always. And IF Christ chooses to perform signs and miracles, so be it. Never, at all, are we to be seekers of a sign. We are only hear and believe the Gospel.

3) (0:57) “Preach the gospel with signs following”….No, Stacey, WE preach the gospel (see above) and IF Christ chooses, signs will follow. We don’t force them.

4) (1:15) This personal prophecy….Where does this even have a biblical basis? How is this guy to know whether what they are saying is true? He doesn’t. This is clearly a “prophecy” designed to tickle the ears of others. The lady says “leave the crowds behind, leave the friends behind…”. This guy is being set-up for a shipwreck. If he goes forward and begins to have relationship problems with lifelong friends, he’ll see it as a “sign” from God, rather that his own stupid behavior. I myself have been there, done that, and actually have a couple of t-shirts to prove it.

Up to this point in my life I’ve witnessed hundreds of these personal “prophecies” and in many of them I knew the people they were given to.  It was all hogwash. Over and over again I’ve seen this stuff turn out to be untrue, yet these people speak as if it’s the very words of God.

These “prophets” all have an out. If their words don’t come to pass, they blame it on the receiving person’s faith or obedience, not their own “prophetic anointing”.

5) (2:15) what can I say here…..Other than demonic.

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11, ESV)

It’s considered noble by God to dig into the written Word and find out if these things are true. It’s considered noble to hold a “prophet” accountable to the written Word. It’s considered noble to obey the written Word. It’s noble not to fall for every word delivered from a “prophet’s” mouth.

Take a quick perusal on the internet. Search out the names of your favorite “prophets”. Research it and check their behavior back to the exact written word. Not the teachings of your favorite evangelist or the latest  book, but the exact written word of God….the Bible.

Run, folks, while there’s still time.

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Two Cents Is All I Have

This past weekend was my wife’s birthday and our 20th anniversary. As part of the “celebration” we went to the movies together. As pretty much everyone knows, especially the parents of teens, the Justin Beiber movie was showing this past weekend and therefore the theatre was full of large groups of squealing teen girls.

Justin Beiber is a hot commodity right now. My wife and I have several Christian friends whose daughters obsess so much over Justen Beiber that it’s all they want to talk about. Most of the conversations center on how “OMG hawt” ol’ Justin is. But it’s not just Justin. Most of their conversation is focused on not only various boys’ “hawntess” but on the appearances of other girls.

You can develop a sense of what is constantly passing through their minds. Basically you begin to come to understand what it is their heart desires.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8, ESV)

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:34, ESV)

See, it really doesn’t matter what our age is when it comes to idolatry. If we’re 16 and our constant focus is on how hot other guys and girls are, or if we’re 42 and we’re constantly watching sports or obsessing on our appearance, our heart will still follow where our focus is.

That’s the one thing God leaves up to us. Whether to turn our attention on Him or our idols.

When it comes to our sexual needs and desires, God created men and women differently. Men and boys are more attracted to the physical aspects of sex. It’s one of the reasons that pornography is still mostly a male issue. (although it is growing among women). Women and girls are mostly attracted to the romance, the emotional, the drama of a relationship as opposed to the physical. And it’s these differences that make certain forms of “teen idolatry” seem okay when it comes to girls as opposed to boys.

Not one Christian that I personally know would consider it okay for their teen son to look at or carry around pornography. It’s the raw physical aspects of pornography that a boy or man tends to be more attracted to. Additionally, not one Christian that I know would purchase pornography for their teenage son. It would be unthinkable.

It would be unthinkable because of the kinds of feelings, emotions, and thoughts it invokes in a teenage boy or a married man. It fuels a lust in the heart of boys and men for things that God has not given to them. That’s why it’s sin.

Yet how many Christian parents of teenage girls that my wife and I personally know find it okay to take their teenage daughters to the Justin Beiber movie, buy his music, and spend countless hours talking and fantasizing over him? How many Christian parents found it okay to take their teenage daughters to see the Twilight movies and provide them the Twilight series books? How many Christian parents see no problem with allowing their daughters to spend countless hours talking about how “hawt” the latest male teen idols are or craving to look like the latest female teen sensation?

It’s a “socially acceptable”  form of pornography for teenage Christian girls. It, like pictorial pornography for boys and men, fuels the kind of lusts in teenage girls for things that God hasn’t given to them either.

Yes, teenage girls are naturally drawn to giggling about teenage boys. Yes, it’s natural for teenage girls to be concerned about their looks. The desire to find a husband and be beautiful are things that God has placed in the makeup of every female. However, it’s the responsibility of every Christian parent (mom) to direct those gifts of God to be used for the glory of God.

I got news for you……lusting after Justin Beiber, or any other “hawt guy” to the point that is’s all you can talk about is not using those gifts for the glory of God. It’s lust and it’s idolatry. Pure and simple.

Left unchecked, the devoting of a teen girl’s heart to the constant lust for the latest teen sensation will lead to nothing but heartache later in life. Just like pornography use in men places a standard on their wives that can’t be upheld, so does the “emotional pornography” that girls and women are attracted to place a standard on their husbands that can’t be upheld either.

It’s all up to you, Christian parents. Are you going to direct those God-given feelings for God’s glory? Or are you going to throw gasoline on the fire?

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“Fighting” For the Faith

The other day, my wife and I received an e-mail from the youth pastor of the previous church we attended inviting our 15-year old daughter to the upcoming youth “food fight”, named “Crud Wars”. It was probably an errant email because we haven’t attended the church since the beginning of the year and to this date there has been no other attempt to contact us anyway. We were probably just still part of an address list.

Neverless, the errant e-mail merely cemented further why we left the church to begin with. It also brought back up why we are still so discouraged in finding another. A couple of posts here and here at Cerulean Sanctum about the state of youth ministry  in the American Church deals a little about we were seeing within the youth group at our previous church.

At far too many churches, youth service has tured into nothing more than play time without any gospel ever being presented. Oh, sure, there are sermons, more like talks, about “rockin your school for Jesus” or “being radical for Jesus” but no presentation on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus….you know…the gospel. Please don’t mis-understand me, I see nothing wrong with having fun in youth service; but at the expense of sound biblical teaching and gospel preaching, “fun” now rules the service.

Now on to the reason for the e-mail from our previous church.

Over the past several months, the pastor has been exhorting the entire congregation to get involved in helping out in the community. The sermon series he’s been presenting has been based on showing the love of Christ by serving others. Last week they had a churchwide event at a local homeless ministry where they go and serve the homeless meals. Most of the people that the homeless ministry serves have nothing. They eat only the food they obtain from the ministry. Our previous church thought it would be a good idea to show the love of Christ by serving food.

Now  the good part…..for the last several weeks, the youth ministry  of our previous church has collected food from the youth of the church. They have asked that canned goods, especially gooey ones like baked beans and pudding and ketchup be brought up to the church for an “outreach” (my term, not theirs) they will be doing. Sounds good so far. Sounds like sacrificial servant leadership. Until you find out that the food is being collected so that around 40 or so youth can get together and throw it at each other in one massive food fight.

So on Friday last week they serve starving homeless people food and by Wednesday they are throwing hundreds of pounds of food at each other in the name of entertainment.

Words fail me at the hypocrisy of a Christian wasting food in that manner in the name of  “being Jesus to the world” while at the same time getting all teary eyed at the thought of a starving homeless person.

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Thems Eatin Words, Pardner

In a previous post, now deleted, I dealt with the trend today in much of the American church to look to the things of the world in people instead of trying to see people as God sees them.

When Samuel the prophet was asked by God to annoint the next king of Israel, Samuel went looking at all of David’s big strong handsome brothers. Turns out that God was looking at something else…. David’s heart.

When Jesus was speaking to his disciples about what the Kingdom of God is like, Jesus said the first will be last, and the last will be first. In other words, Jesus was saying that the things that impress people, especially spiritual things, really don’t impress God. A true, humble, obedient, servant’s heart is what will be first in God’s Kingdom.

Clamoring at the front of the line constantly trying to “do an awesome work for God” will get you sent straight to the end of the line in God’s Kingdom. God works through us through a humble (bowed down, reverently submitted) heart….WE don’t do a work FOR God.

God chose the foolish things of the world to do his work. I mean, c’mon, who would have thought a mighty king would be some broken, bleeding guy hung on a tree between two thieves and that only by believing that he IS our savior can we live with God forever? That’s absolutely ridiculous and doesn’t even make sense….to the world’s way of thinking.

Too much of the way we “do church” today is really nothing more than to appeal to the egos and dreams of men…..we look to the attendance numbers, the salvation numbers, the size of the youth group, even the glowing reviews of people who attend the church and we use these indicators do determine if God is blessing our efforts.

It’s called  “pragmatism”.  At it’s root, pragmatism basically is an “ends justifies the means” outlook. In other words, “We gotta be doing something right, because look at all the people in the audience.

Theatre performances are judged in that manner but God doesn’t judge His church that way…….You know the whole “your righteousness is as filthy rags” thing.

I regret the last blog post I made here. I regret it so much that I deleted it. I was frustrated and fed up. And wrong.

However, the showmanship done in the name of evangelism in so much of the American church today serves nothing more than to puff up our egos and inflate our stature in the eyes of men. We can sprinkle the words “Holy Spirit” all we want in our services, but He ain’t nowhere to be found.

The Lord Jesus knew the hearts of men and didn’t need their approval…..remember, He said woe to those that are approved in the eyes of the world.

May I cease to be a King Saul (someone who’s got it all goin’ on) and become a David (someone weak in the eyes of men).

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Did God REALLY say?

An interesting article here about the current interest in vampires.

Obviously, my position is that we “no longer have anything to do with the deeds of darkness” (God said it, not me), but take a look at the article and decide for yourselves because you probably won’t listen to me anyway.

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Stop Getting Ate, You Stupid Sheep

I have a friend here in Texas whose son attended public school until the middle of the 11th grade. This young man is interested in art and classical music. Some of you already know where this is headed. He is thin and could be described by some as effiminant.

He was getting picked on immensely to the point he was being physically assaulted every day in school. The largest part of the abuse was coming from the football players of the high school he attended.

My friend went up to the school over and over without resolve. Finally he went and talked to the football coach directly and told him unless he told the football players to back off he was going to do all he could to see the football coach was punished. The football coach told my friend that his football players wouldn’t feel the need to pick on his son if my friends son wasn’t such a…….. you guessed it…..faggot.

It was all the boy’s fault. Not the football players. It was the sheep’s fault they were eaten.

He pulled the boy from school immediately and finished high school out by homeschooling him.

I am an introvert. Almost chokingly so. I have a daughter the same way. It’s not a personality disorder. She is quite comfortable the way she is. She loves to read, watch nature shows, science shows, and she loves time with her family. She also loves time with her friends, just less of it than an extrovert would like.

But… she is different than many teenage girls. Not giggly. Not touchy feely. Not huggy. Not boy crazy. Not obsessed with her looks.

While looking at some photos tonight on my wife’s Facebook that some of the teenagers had posted of some of the events of the youth group in our church I came to realize that my daughter isn’t in any of them. In spite of the fact that many of these girls are within her social circle. My daughter isn’t averse to having her picture taken, and in fact will do it willingly. She loves being around other teenagers, she just isn’t the center of attention.

Shy and introverted are two different things. Completely. Although I hear them used interchangeably a lot.

I thought about all of the talk in church about reaching out to the hurting, the lost. I thought about all of the sermons about asking God to open our eyes to His activity around us. I thought about all of the sermons about loving those that are different and fellowshipping with others who we don’t normally fellowship with. I thought of the sermons about showing love to others in spite of their differences.

I expect some in the world to call artists “faggots”. It’s wrong, but the world doesn’t claim allegiance to Christ.

I can’t understand people who call themselves Christians culling out the “week” and the “blemished” from among them while squeeling, jumping, giggling, and forming exclusive cliques. All the while the thoughtful, the serving, the meek hearted and the quiet stand and watch the party.

Alone.

I understand teenagers aren’t fully developed. I understand the awesome power of peer pressure. I don’t understand an adult claiming to be led by the Holy Spirit of God not discerning this behavior in their young people and teaching and training them otherwise. I don’t understand youth leaders not dealing with this from the pulpit.

It could be they are blinded to it by their own behavior.

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