Youth Ministry and the Law

My time in youth ministry has gotten me up close with the police a few times. Mostly in not-so-fun circumstances, but once, they were responding to a concerned neighbors call about someone shooting a shotgun at the church. When the police arrived they asked us to stop shooting the dumpster… with a balloon launcher and past it’s goodness fruit. Funny! But today, I’m not talking about that kind of law. I’m talking about the law of God.

Back in the day, the Israelites tried to earn their way to heaven by perfectly following God’s laws. They created more laws to follow help them follow God’s laws. And still, no one could seem to do it perfectly. So Jesus came and actually did it. He lived the law perfectly so that no one else ever had to. We are saved by grace through faith, and this is not something that we accomplish, it is a gift from God. So we no longer have to try to earn our way to heaven!

Except in youth ministry. I often feel an immense pressure to teach students how to be good, moral people. I feel like there is an expectation that I will teach them not to watch ‘R’ rated movies, that saying cuss words is wrong, and a whole list of other things that will help them be good, moral people. And lots of the things on the list are true and good and right and will help them be good, moral people.

I have just one problem with that: I am not looking to create good, moral citizens of this earth. I mean, I hope students are good and moral and ethical and all that, I just they are something else first.

I hope they are in love with Jesus, and his bride, the church. I hope they are giving Him all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. And then loving others out of their love for Christ. If they are doing that, the moral choices will be easier. And if they aren’t doing that? The moral choices won’t save them, and I don’t want them for a second to think the goal of church and God is for them to be a good person.

So parents, I apologize if you are hoping I will teach your kid right from wrong. I’m not real interested in that being my job description.

But I will teach your kids about fixing their eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and running a good race with him as the finish line.

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