Are youth ministry and kids ministry unbiblical?

One of the members of our church had a conversation with me a this weekend they asked me if kids ministry and youth ministry were biblical. He was asking not out of disagrement but more out curiosity as to what my response would be. This question has started to come up because of the state of the church in the west and the rate in which young people are leaving the church. There are some people who believe that youth and kids ministry have largely contributed to this phenomenon. Jesus never had a puppet explain the tora as a child and neither did he attend a conference as a youth where the Rabbi talked about the hotness of his wife. So because the bible doesn’t talk about teaching kids and youth separately from adults it shouldn’t be done? I say yes and no.

To start off I would say the ultimate responsibility of the spiritual life of every child lies with his or her own parents. Parents are the primary leaders, examples and communicators of biblical truth in the life of their children. Having said that kids need much more than just their parents influence in their lives. I had a mom from another church explain to me that she kept her kids away from youth group at their church because she knew that the youth pastor needed her kids to attend because they were more well behaved than all the other kids that went to youth group. He needed her kids to be a good example of Christlikeness to the other kids that attended. The only thing I could think was, awesome way to model humility, community, and passion for Christ’s church.

Here are the reasons I think Youth Ministry and Kids Ministry matter.

1. Every kid needs a friend – not a sibling not a family member, but a friend outside their family unit who believes the same thing they believe.
2. Every kid needs others voices in their life that are saying the same things their parents are.
3. You can only see and fully understand certain things about God  in the context of biblical community. If you think you can walk out the gospel in the context of just your family you don’t understand the gospel. It has to be worked out in biblical community. The gospel can be learned in a smaller setting but has to be worked out in a broder setting. When I speak of community I don’t mean church attendance alone but church attendance, serving in the church, living in community means you bump up against other people and have to work out the implications of that. Community is not creating a buffer of niceness between you and other members of the community.

Bonhoeffer says this about Community

Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ.  No Christian community is more or less than this…

What does this mean?  It means, first, that a Christian needs others because of Jesus Christ.  It means, second, that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ.  It means, third, that in Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity.

4. Unless your church goes out of it’s way to make church work for 5,6, 7 year olds (which most churches do not) by taking time to publicly explain things to kids. Singing songs that kids understand and enjoy. Then I would argue an age appropriate environment is need to  allow kids and teens to grow understand and teach others.
5. Lastly kids and Youth ministry allow kids to discover, grow and use the talents God has given them.  In most churches you may see kids be “Jr ushers”in big church but for kids to see themselves as a valuable contributing member of the body of Christ is priceless.

The thing that frustrates me in this whole argument is that we all have this tendency to be dogmatic about the the things that the Bible isn’t dogmatic about. We froth and fuss over the validity of kids and youth ministry but avoid the weightier things like are we living the gospel in our homes and in our churches. Kids don’t walk away from their faith because of youth group they walk away from their faith because they never came to a clear understanding of the gospel. So if you want to be dogmatic about something be dogmatic about gospel clarity.


INCM’s Shift in global focus.

The last year has represented many changes to the vision of our ministry. This change in purpose has shifted our focus and created a renewed intentionality in everything we do. Those of you who joined us at CPC witnessed the innovation first hand. Others of you heard about it online or from friends. In either case, we are excited about what God is doing in and through our ministry and are honored to have you join us in this adventure.

When an organization undergoes dramatic change to vision, there are many contributing factors which will determine the success or failure of the change. Arguably the most important step is building a team capable of managing the transition. A team has to be equipped and empowered for the task ahead. INCM is blessed to have a team of committed staff who fit this criteria.

About a year ago we adopted a new purpose statement for our ministry: serve | serve | serve. INCM exists to serve God and to serve those called to serve His children. We have pushed hard to live out this new purpose statement. In a single year we have gone from a ministry primarily focused on events in the U.S. to a ministry with a global focus. This year we have transitioned from two major domestic events to a total of over 10 events. These events include:

  • CPC East and West
  • CM Leaders – a new event designed to train “leaders of leaders” in our unique calling
  • 3 events in Belize
  • 2 events in Hong Kong
  • 1 event in Egypt
  • several smaller regional events

With the renewed vision shifting our strategic focus, we have streamlined our staff. Our new ministry structure allows our team to navigate challenges and opportunities more effectively and efficiently. For a non-profit ministry, efficiency is one key that moves us to stewardship. This is our desire: to be faithful with the few things we have been entrusted as we pray and seek God’s plan in the coming days.

Roxanne Walker, now serving in her 15th year, is our new Operations Director. She oversees office operations and finances while seeking to implement strategies to enhance the participant experience at INCM events. Roxanne will be assisted by the new Operations Assistant, a position which is yet to be filled. You can email [email protected] for more information.

Lori Bethran ([email protected]), our newest staff member, is now the Training Director for our ministry. Her role represents a renewed focus on our training ministry and is a key part of our efforts to serve the Church. Lori will be managing all domestic and international training efforts, developing content and identifying leaders serving in children’s ministry to join our training team. This will bring continuity and cohesiveness to all INCM events.

Alan Walker ([email protected]), in his sixth year with INCM, will continue as our Marketing Director. His role now includes marketing all of our events and trainings globally while strengthening and expanding collaborative efforts with our ministry partners . He is assisted by Jordan Shew ([email protected]). Jordan has been with us for a couple of years and will now serve as the Communications Leader as he manages our online properties.

I’m honored to serve alongside of our new team and am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this ministry. If you have any questions about these changes, feel free to email me personally; I’m here to serve you. [email protected]

Thank you for being a part of what God is doing in the lives of His children. On behalf of our Board and staff team… we are honored to serve you and your ministry.

Michael Chanley
Executive Director

How to help your kids be more innovative.

Here are a few things I believe will help your kids be more innovative. If we want our kids to be successful in the future we need to be actively working on helping them use their innovation muscles.

1. Limit their exposure to media – Do not keep them from TV all together. I find that when you watch kids who have never watched TV or their exposure is limited they play very different than kids who are saturated daily by media. When your kids watch TV to much they replay things they saw on TV in their play. When their exposure is limited they infuse their own world with the things they have seen on TV.

2. Give them problems to solve and traditional tools as well as non-traditional tools to solve those problems.

3. Model and explain innovation to your kids.

4. Help they learn to be flexible. To be an innovator you have to be an early adapter. You need to be familiar enough with what is out there to be tweaking it when everyone else is finally ready to start using it.

5. Tell them what you want the end result to be but resist the urge to tell them how to do it.

6. Play this would be better if. Take everyday items and ask your kids how this item could be better.

7. Make sure that they understand that our God is a creator and through sin we broke God’s perfect world. It’s through invention and innovation that we can begin to repair and rebuild culture. In doing so we can reflect God’s glory to a world that needs to hear and see God’s redemptive work in action.

Revelation 21:5

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Everything that can be invented has been invented

Well I’m not sure that is true. I think lots more things will be invented. I would argue that much of what we now call invention is more innovation that invention. As we head into the future I strongly believe that invention will slow down and innovation will increase. As a kid we grew up hearing stories of great inventors like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Our kids will grow up hearing of great innovators like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

I have this long standing belief that our school systems (not referring to teachers here but rather the system as a whole) are built to teach our kids how to be good factory workers. Our educational system is teaching our kids to be good line workers, inventors, and how to work with things that we know to be true. Our school system and most of us being a product of that system still believe that there is only one right way to do anything.

What should we as parents be teaching our kids? What should the school system be teaching our kids? Innovation. In school system and even at home we train our kids to think concrete thoughts which is good but kids also need to think outside the box. We give them to many situations where there is only one right answer. The more we teach our kids to look at every problem in light of the possible solutions we will be training them to be innovators.

I asked my oldest boy to move a pile of leaves and told him he could take them to the leaf pile one handful at a time or he could use the tools available to him. After much debate about the usefulness of each tool we settled on a trash bag we could fill and take only one trip to the leaf pile. I helped him see the importance of as Andy Stanley says “going further faster.”

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that inventions are important and will still take place. I just believe that going forward those who will shape culture will be innovators not inventors. I want my kids to be innovators. Innovators are leaders, innovators make change, innovators help to fix the brokenness of our world one innovation at a time.