If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Have you ever wished you could go back in time and give your former self life-changing advice? Fortunately, we can get something like that when we listen to those who have gone before us in ministry. Richard Ross, Professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with 40 years of experience in youth ministry, shares the two things he would tell himself if he were just starting out working with youth again.

While Richard undeniably affirmed the importance of youth ministry in the spiritual formation of teens, he placed a greater importance on the role of those teens' parents in shaping their faith. What do you do to communicate to parents that they are the ones who are primarily responsible for the discipleship of their children?
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How much of your time are you able to spend with the parents of your students? In your time with them, how do you seek to equip them in their role as disciple-makers?
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How might you, as a youth minister, work with other ministries within the church in order to help equip parents to pass their faith to their children? What sort of activities could you plan as a church to achieve this end?
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Richard suggested finding spiritual "adoptive" families for teens who are not from a family of faith. Which teens in your ministry would benefit from this type of discipling relationship? What families in your church have modeled discipleship at home well, that could serve in this capacity? Are there faithful empty-nesters that you can utilize in this role?
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Richard acknowledged the growing problem of  "moralistic therapeutic deism" among teens, which is characterized by the following beliefs:
  1. God created and ordered the world and continues to oversee human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem. 
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

What evidence of moralistic therapeutic deism have you seen among the students in your ministry? How does the truth of the gospel counter the false claims above?
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Richard pointed to the proclamation of the Lordship of Jesus as the key to curbing the trend of moralistic therapeutic deism. Do you consider your ministry to be marked by a robust Christology? Practically speaking, how do you ensure that every event you do—from volunteer opportunities, to lock-ins, to pizza parties—proclaims to your students that Jesus is Lord?
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So many times when we look back on our life and ministry we see things that we wish we had done differently. God, in His grace, has given us an incredible opportunity to avoid pitfalls and enhance our ministry by listening to wisdom from brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us in ministry.