Here’s an idea, let’s not lie to young people (or anyone for that matter) about what is in the Bible.
I was able to hang out with one of my favorite people this past week. She’s a youth pastor and has recently taken a new position. Camp was scheduled for her upon her arrival as well as most major summer events. Excited to be able to focus on getting to know the teens and families, she embraced what was set before her.
Camp is often a highlight of summer if not the year for many teens. And while a highlight, the camp she attended this summer is probably NOT the highlight for the reason most would think. Forget that the camp preacher referred to the youth pastors on more than one occasion as “he”, “him” and other male related terms. (Even her own students were annoyed by this oversight).
What really frustrated them was his walk through the Bible…looking for Jesus. Seems He was everywhere! I get it…I’ve heard the lessons where the mysterious fourth in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was Jesus. But this particular preacher went so far as to say Mordecai was actually Jesus. Yep, you got it! Mordecai as in the cousin and adoptive father of Esther. Really?! Jesus?! I couldn’t stand to hear in what other ways this preacher trashed the very book he supposedly held in high regard. I couldn’t stand to hear in what other ways he was messing with the faith of young people out of a careless handling of scripture.
Just because you say the name of Jesus does not mean you are showing respect or being a faithful Christian. In fact, placing Jesus where he was not calls into question the other two members of the godhead functionally making the person a Jesus idolater, a Jesus only kind of believer. The fallout of this is that it denies the doctrine of the Trinity.
So here’s an idea. Let’s respect Jesus enough to not force Him into every story. Let’s respect scripture enough to let it be the Bible it is, not the one we want.
Let’s care about young people enough to offer them truth, the truth of Christ and from scripture believing they can handle it. I spend a lot of time with college aged young people apologizing for the youth ministry they experienced. They feel lied to. They feel like there was a bait and switch. They feel belittled. They feel this when they really begin to read the Bible for themselves. And all of this stems from leaders who manipulate into scripture what is not actually there.
The agenda is set by the leaders understanding of being a Christian and heck if they are going to let a little thing like what the Bible actually says to get in their way. Our young people deserve better. God deserves better. If this is the kind of youth worker you are, please change or kindly step away. If this is the kind of pastor you are, please change or kindly step away.