Youth groups and children’s programs have become some of the main attractions and promotional marketing engines that drive Christians to bad churches and tempt them to stay captive to those assemblies. Such programs are commonly used as powerful attendance magnets that work very well in drawing unwary people, usually entire families, into unhealthy congregations run by authoritarian dictators.
I know of a number of Christians who have specifically selected a terrible church more than once based on the entertainment “strength” of that church’s youth group and based in no small part on the amusements of the “children’s church” as well, which is a somewhat similar but often less intense program for their younger children.
This is an ongoing problem that has been getting much worse over time, especially as entertainment and technological advances in the area of gaming and other audiovisual diversions have exploded in more recent years. Walking into a youth center can often be likened to walking into a discotheque or arcade, but much worse, a spiritualized or “religionized” version to make it all seem spiritual.
Now I am not saying that all entertainment is bad or wrong. There are some good forms of amusement, but regardless these have no place being merged with the local church or local church assembly. At least if you take your family to some decent clean amusement or entertainment event in the world, at least those things are not spiritualized and are not added to the church as new traditions.
Children Put Up For Spiritual Adoption
Youth groups are typically entertainment-based amusement driven programs that have nothing to do with genuine Biblical assembly. These programs are often managed by young highly incapable “youth pastors” who are under the direct control or at least directly answer to the presiding church dictatorship. In most cases, these youth “leaders” are at best very foolish novices in a position of authority who teach and promote some of the most ungodly worldly philosophies imaginable. At worst, they are young wolves or sometimes even older wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Astonishingly, most parents think that they are doing their children a great favor by sending them to these groups in the care of people who they barely know, if they know them at all! Many parents have actually gone so far as to relinquish much if not all of their spiritual responsibilities in the area of child raising to churches that offer programs like this, thinking that these churches will handle those duties for them, essentially putting their kids up for spiritual adoption. It’s very sad. It’s a similar situation with “children’s church” but usually to a somewhat lesser degree and on a somewhat smaller scale, but no less detrimental to the children and the church.
A Counterfeit Sacrifice and a Counterfeit Love
Parents who know or at least sense that something is very wrong in a particular church or with a particular pastor often remain in those assemblies specifically because of the youth group and children’s church. These parents often argue that they are being self-sacrificing and that they are operating on a higher level of “love” by staying and listening to unbiblical off-the-wall teachings just so that their kids can remain part of these “impressive” programs. While this may seem sacrificial, kind and affectionate, this is not real love because real love is demonstrated by obeying God’s commands even in the face of opposition. God commands us to avoid false teachings and false teachers. The Bible is very clear on this.
I heard from one woman not long ago who told me that there are a number of people in her church who know that there are huge problems with their church’s teachings and practices, but yet they will not leave the unhealthy and abusive system primarily because they don’t want to take their kids out of the youth group and children’s program. I have heard similar unfounded arguments many times before.
Not Enough Entertainment at Home?
As if kids don’t get enough amusement and entertainment at home and in other places, parents often select churches today based on their entertainment value. This reveals an incredible addiction to entertainment that is rampant today, a real departure from the biblical mandate: all things in moderation. (Of course biblically, we are not supposed to be running around looking for and selecting churches at all, let alone on their entertainment strengths. We are supposed to just be the local church right where we are, congregating with whom the Lord gives us.)
You would think with all the entertainment that the average child gets in a week that parents would at least require their children to take a break from it once or twice a week for an hour or two. Apparently this is too much to ask of most Christian parents today and too much to ask of most children.
Even knowing better, or at least somewhat sensing some serious problems with the teachings of the church they attend, many parents nevertheless still opt to elevate amusements and tantalizing activities for their children over the far more important issues of confronting and avoiding the false doctrines that such churches often teach and the abuses that such churches propagate.
Not learning their lesson from such problematic churches in the past, astonishingly many battered parents move on to try to find another similar church, but this time hopefully not with so many problems. Yet they almost never stop, take a break and go to the Bible for guidance. And so they fall right back in to the same kind of mess, this time in a different but similar place where only the names and faces have changed, but it’s the same kind of ungodly merry-go-round all over again.
These parents fail over and over to provide a healthy Bible-based environment where their children can truly grow in the Lord and the result is, more often then not, kids who eventually recognize the hypocrisy, incorrectly blame God and eventually want nothing to do with “church”. Even more sadly some of them want nothing to do with the Lord or Christianity in general after they grow up.
Actors and Actresses
It is not uncommon for teens to actually dislike youth group and prefer not to go in the first place. But not wanting to disappoint their parents and peers, many young people just play the part and become very good little actors often on par with award winning Hollywood celebrities. Children go through the religious motions so as not to upset Mom and Dad and so that they can be accepted by the youth group which they are often essentially forced to be part of.
They succumb to parental pressure and church pressure and many of these kids just can’t wait until it’s all over. But they smile, mouth the words of the worship songs and clap their hands. They play the video games and table tennis and go to the countless boring meetings (and even related “youth outings”) in these prisons where they are kept isolated away from their parents who are over in the “Big Church”. All this goes on while Mom and Dad become an even less active part in their lives than they were before.
Even worse, many of these youth are not even Christians, yet because they are active and participle in these manmade church traditions, these young people often appear on the outside to be “good faithful Christians”, at least as far as most professing Christians who don’t have clue are concerned.
And it all just seems so “Christian”. But it’s not. It’s all just religious nonsense, falsely religious. This is not part of true Biblical Christianity. As bad as all this is, it actually gets much worse if that even seems possible….
Where’s The Gospel?
Some of these parents and youth leaders do not even know or believe in the Gospel, so obviously they don’t preach the Gospel.
With scores of parents failing to present Christ to their children and scores of churches watering down, avoiding or corrupting the Gospel message, many young people haven’t even heard the Gospel at home or “at church”. Therefore many of these “churched” children have not truly accepted Christ as their Savior. Again, many parents and onlookers assume that they are Christians based on their church “involvement”. That is a dangerous assumption. We see this same problem among active adults as well. Their church involvement is often misconstrued as being proof of their salvation.
As far as many parents are concerned, they incorrectly think that salvation has something to do with joining a church, getting involved and going through all the motions. But in the eyes of many youth that doesn’t seem quite right or real to them. Why? Because it’s not right or real! Some young people at least detect the hypocrisy of manmade religion and rightfully many of them want nothing to do with it. But sadly some throw the baby out with the bathwater. They blame God (instead of the real culprits) and just walk away from it all, away from Christianity in general.
Astonishingly it is the parents who seek out these programs and insist that their children attend these mind numbing and heart neutralizing programs thinking that all of this is somehow doing their children some good
[Religion is a great enemy to the faith. Those who have religion think they are Christians even when they may not be and so they do not go looking for God nor do they think they need to. This is a devastating problem.]
Where’s The Reasons For Faith?
With all the time these young people have spent “in church”, in many if not most cases they have NOT been given solid reasons for faith, meaning they have not been taught simple apologetics truths and therefore, even if they are Christians, they have no way to defend the Christian faith against atheists and secular humanists. In most cases these young people are unable to provide even simple fundamental facts and evidence such as fulfilled Bible prophesies that prove that there is no way the Bible is a fake or a fraud written by mere men (and that the Bible must have been given by God). Therefore what the Bible says about Jesus, the Gospel and salvation must be totally accurate.
So not only are many of these children not being given the Gospel, those who are given the Gospel in many cases are not being given any way to defend its validity or defend the Christian faith in general. And it is often by receiving information on the defense of the Gospel that those who have not yet come to Christ find compelling reasons to finally believe the Gospel. So these are very important teachings.
Regardless, when not properly grounded, young people (and any Christian for that matter) are prey for the so-called “intellectuals” such as the typical liberal college professor who often appear wise and all knowing. These educators often take young adults right off a spiritual cliff and all in the name of liberating them from so-called “fairytales” so they can be free to sin without their consciences being bothered.
The Bible is Trivialized
The problem often starts in “Children’s Church” where important true non-fictional Bible events are portrayed to children in a cavalier and casual way, such as in coloring books and workbooks as if these genuine historical events are mere fictional “stories” and fairly tales.
This trivializes the Bible and can cause huge problems in that as children get older, more and more they assume that much of what they heard and read growing up “in church” and going to Sunday School, are mere fiction and not real events, no different than Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings.
Finding Out Too Late
Once old enough and out of high school, these youth are now young adults. Many leave these questionable churches and go away to college or go on into the workplace and often have no further interest in Christ or Christianity. This is because they have never seen or experienced the real thing! This is the devil’s plan. These young people are turned off by all the hypocrisy, politics, money grubbing and abuse that they have seen “in church”, things that they intuitively know are wrong.
The few young people who do “go on into ministry” as it is popularly but incorrectly phrased, are often just the children of the leadership who are just riding the nepotistic coattails of Daddy’s (or God forbid Mommy’s) pastorate so they too can enjoy similar power and prestige. It’s a mess of gargantuan proportions. [By the way, all Christians are already “in ministry” and so there is no such thing as “going into ministry”. The problem is few Christians know that all Christians already have ministries and so we don’t need seminary or anyone’s permission in order to do what God has called us to do.]
The Bottom Line
It is my sincere hope that you will carefully consider what is written in the article. If you have children that are involved with dangerous institutionalized church programs you may want get them out fast (and hopefully out of such a church as well). Once things have gone too far and young people become frustrated with false Christianity and become indoctrinated by the world, getting them back and onto the right path is a very hard thing for parents to turn around. Your children’s eternity may hang in the balance.