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Evangelistic Endeavor -- 15 (Sab, 9/23)


This morning was going to provide the first opportunity for many people to keep the Sabbath. We tried to make sure the service was excellent and Sabbath School was appropriate. To do this, we decided to not do the Sabbath School lesson (no comment) and we did a lesson on habits of highly successful Christians. It went really well and provided good discussion and practical tips. The worship service was excellent again and my man Moses preached an excellent sermon.

We had around 5-6 people who decided to keep the Sabbath from the series attend. This seemed to be about half the people who had said they were going to do so. We’ll see how things progress in the coming weeks.

TWELFTH NIGHT (I dedicate the following to Shakespeare)

Attendance continues to be 40-50. Tonight’s main attraction was 5 teenagers who attended. We had a girl do an interpretive dance so she had four of her friends come. This got the evangelist very happy and he addressed them quite a bit throughout the night. He welcomed them and prayed that he might be able to reach them through his message. The first line after prayer to the congregation was, “How many of you want to look younger?” Not exactly what teenagers are worried about. However, he had to preach the message for the evening which was on the health message. He talked about the usual stuff and the unclean/clean meat thing.

After he finished, he focused on the youth. He told them that he wanted to do more for the youth in the area. He said we would have drug counseling, gang counseling, and do programs for the youth. We haven’t talked about doing any of this. Although I wish we could, at this point, it’s really too late. He then had them come forward in front of everyone and had them give us their names and numbers. He told them that we want the gym to be full of teenagers by the end of the next week. Then, he assigned Moses and I to the boys and another Seminarian to the girls. After the meeting we decided to get together with them on Thursday night and just hang out, eat, and have fun. We ended at 9.


Alex asked for a sociological analysis of the group and this is a good time to talk about that. The entire group is black which actually doesn’t reflect the community. There are large and rapidly growing groups of Hispanic and Asian people in Hunter’s Point. There are a few visitors who come for a night that are in the 20-30 crowd. However, the consistent visitors are all 40 and above. They are all committed Christians in other denominations.

The Rainbow church has three young 20-30 something’s that I think could really make a difference and are supporting the series. They are the bright hope for the church and I just hope they are not stifled in what they can do. Teenagers have been largely absent and there is the sense by everyone that something needs to be done to help them. However, the adults are still running the show and make sure that what actually happens does not reach the youth because, in all likelihood, they won’t like it. This seems to be the typical story in most churches: The adults always talk about the need for young people but maintain and perpetuate systems and practices that keep young people away from the church.

I’m afraid that Moses and I will bear the blame when the teens do not come back and the dreams for the gym to be full of teens will not be realized. Of course, they are our responsibility now and the teen issue is in our hands. However, there are many things we are doing that are keeping teenagers away. I had a comment a while back asking about how to reach teens and now I’ll provide a few ideas of what to do based on what not to do.

What doth we do to keep teenagers away? Let me count the ways (Sounds Shakespearian to me):

1. Meet 5 nights a week for 2 hours a night, with a 1 ½ hour sermon – Teenagers have a short attention span and listening to a sermon that is over an hour every night is torture. Sitting and listening to a sermon or anything else for that long just reminds them of school and how boring class is. They want things to get straight to the point and not waste any time.

2. Irrelevant Topics – No teenager cares about 2300 days, the millennium, unclean meat, mark of the beast, etc, etc, etc. The subjects are too removed from daily life and have no connecting point with teens. They need to deal with issues that matter to them which pretty much means you need to talk about relationships. It was really funny at the end of the meeting because he talked about how he wanted to reach the teens and focus on them and then he announced that tomorrow night we are talking about the mark of the beast. I could hear a collective, “WHO CARES!” They want to deal with social issues and now how to live a better life and have good relationships.

3. Put them in the spotlight – Teens don’t want to be put in the spotlight but just kind of blend in with the crowd. The evangelist put them in a very awkward position which I’m sure they couldn’t stand. They had no choice but to give us their information and become a part of things. They want to choose their destiny, not be told what to do.

4. No socialization – At the meetings you sit and listen for 2 hours then leave. Teens want to talk, talk, talk, and do more talking. They have no voice in our meetings but just have to sit quietly while they are told what to think and believe. They want a voice and to be heard and validated. They are smarter than we think and can see right through much of the adults’ pretenses. Communication is a must and not being able to talk for 2 hours seems like an eternity. They need their voice, or text message, to be heard.

5. No activity – The fountain of youth provides an amazing amount of energy. They want to be active and involved in what’s going on, not just being a passive spectator. They want to move around, have fun, and learn through activity. Sitting for 2 hours straight also seems like an eternity. Also, the participants in the program are all 40 and above which is an immediate turn-off because it shows them that this program is for adults.

Well, there is probably much more to say. I hope this made some sense but I have limited time so I just kind of type as things come to mind. I hope this helps some who are wondering about youth ministry. I don’t pretend to be an expert and not all teens are like the ones I described but I think it provides at least a general, broad picture of the life of teens today. Maybe the real youth ministry experts, Jon and others, can provide additional insights or correct my errors.


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