Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: "True Love Waits" and Persistent Bible Doctrine

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"True Love Waits" and Persistent Bible Doctrine

In February I will be teaching 4 weeks of a "True Love Waits" emphasis, the popular youth ministry abstinence campaign. The purpose of this post is to point out how this can work and how this can fail.

A few years ago I was serving as youth minister and a warm hearted layperson approached me with a genuine concern about one of the teenagers. She had learned that this particular teenager had started dating a young man who apparently had a reputation for pressuring his girlfriends into sexual relationships. In the course of the conversation, my church friend suggested I "start teaching True Love Waits immediately to keep anything from happening."

One of the great problems with many youth ministry models among our local churches (and overall church ministry models) is the implementation of an agenda based curriculum that has no foundation on which to rest. Building up radically transformed Christian teenagers who are spiritually and morally distinct relies on the foundation of consistent, weekly, engaging Bible study that has some depth about it. It is essential that this become the ever-present reality for youth ministry. A no-brainer you might think? I wish. The quick-fix mentality coupled with the latest popular book or program is on what most our models are based. These are not bad things, but should never be considered as stand alone curriculum that is expected to grow our people in faith and love. Currently, the hype is all about Lucado's "3:16: The Numbers of Hope." Formerly, it has been "Experiencing God" or "The Purpose Driven Church." For youth ministry specifically, "True Love Waits" or "Nooma." Should churches abandon these books and studies and view them as pointless? No. But our passion must be for the Bible. We need teachers who love the Bible, who love the truth it teaches, who get excited about sharing and teaching life altering realities that produce genuine, saving faith. This is what should be persistent in our churches. Then, when a "3:16" comes along, it serves as a nice supplement to what our strong foundation has already been teaching. In fact, ultimately these studies and programs should point us back to the Bible instead of becoming a bible for us.

So, will "True Love Waits" be an effective program of study in February? I am prayerful that the foundation which is being laid in our youth ministry will enable our teenagers to be open to the message of True Love Waits, and in turn, point them back to Scripture for increasing faith and trust in God. In Ronald Sider's "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?", the importance of solid, ongoing biblical theology and doctrine as the foundation for all else is highlighted. Sider says,
"The findings on the different behavior of Christians with a biblical worldview underline the importance of theology. Biblical orthodoxy does matter. One important way to end the scandal of contemporary Christian behavior is to work and pray fervently for the growth of orthodox theological belief in our churches."
The call for 21st century youth ministry is a withdrawal from entertainment centered ministry to a biblical centered ministry. Thankfully, it seems that more and more youth pastors are getting the picture. There is much work to be done.


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