Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Shift from Entertainment to Accountability Fellowships

In my earlier blog, I described the noticeable shift from a non-Christian culture to a more aggressive, anti-Christian culture. I would like to discuss a possible trend that could be an outcome of such a seismic change. When considering the enormous abandonment of young people toward evangelical Christianity, those few that do embrace the faith will …

Shift from Consumer-Entertainment to Practical-Accountability Fellowships

With our current climate less than hospitable toward believers, it is not mental gymnastics to conclude that “genuine” young Christians are going to be more diligent in finding an environment that will provide spiritual enrichment, encouragement, and ammunition for the fight they currently are experiencing. No longer will the large, loud, impersonal “youth gatherings” with high sensory stimulation and big-name entertainment be the draw, but rather a deep, meaningful, like-minded fellowship will become the mainstay in order to provide needed accountability and structured encouragement as well as ministry outlets. I can see a move from the mega-church phenomena to a more mid-size or even the small church venue in order to meet the needs of having personal, practical relationships (this is already starting to happen on several fronts).

I also wonder if the current bizarre popularity of social media will start to wane as people that have either grown up with, or that have become enamored with this “cyber-relationship tool” will realize it is a weak substitute for having a commitment-centered, small accountability group in the development of their Christian disciplines. It may stay active as an outlet for expression of faith, but the realization of having a more organic, face to face encounter with fellow believers for true development will replace the frequency of “having to stay connected.” (I have seen several Facebook posts about young people "fasting" from their cell phones for several days each week!)

Two of the unfortunate consequences of the mega-youth models are (1) that so few members are given any opportunity for leadership and (2) so many uncommitted can “hide” in the anonymity of the masses. Problem 2 is simply “too many wolves with the sheep” and this analogy needs no explanation. This first problem however deserves some clarification. Without personal opportunities for leadership, in other words the chance to actually make decisions and be strategically involved, there is no developed loyalty, no “bye-in.” The results of this “lack of an outlet for ministry development” has already been documented in countless books, and most of us can recite the mantra – “by the time active churched youth leave for college, more than 82% will never darken the doors of a church again!” Although we’ve read this, heard this, and lamented its reality we are not currently attacking the problem at its core – connecting our youth with actual leadership opportunities within the church, giving them true ownership! Hence the forced solution of involvement with smaller, more opportunistic fellowships that provides higher accountability.
If larger churches address this issue by offering more opportunities for hands-on ministry it will curb the future departure, but the “song and dance,” performance-based student ministry model will not provide the necessary elements of true disciple-making. The line in the sand is becoming more noticeable and our young people are on the front lines of this battle. Although those of us that are older can see it, they are sweating it out firsthand. For the faithful few that will remain we must provide genuine centers of spiritual development and experience. Babysitting and entertaining them is over.


  1. You hit it right on the nail! Today's Christians don't want to be entertained; they want to be equipped to minister.