General Ministry
Tony Myles

Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, conference speaker, author, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

youth min buttonI so appreciate what Walt Mueller recently blogged about regarding some accusations and attacks on youth ministry.

In short, a group with a particular slant against certain forms of youth ministry (likely some forms you and I are personally familiar with) created a survey and has been trying to pass it off as a study. Such “research” (as Walt put it, and as Adam McLane likewise pointed out) is obviously “sketchy.”

Read Walt’s post for all the details.

In the meantime…

Invite teenagers into an epic adventure with Jesus. Check out Pierced: The New Testament today!

how about we all head on over and add our voices to the conversation?


To be clear, I’m not asking you to advocate something. I’m asking you to add your voice.

What do you think?


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  • Dan says:

    Just read Walt’s article, and then clicked over to the survey… wow, stacking the deck much? I have a lot of issues with all three questions, and my answers would be far more nuanced than what they allow me to say, and yet they basically force you to answer in a way that supports their preconceived notion that youth groups are pointless, evil, unbiblical, and who knows what else. And for what? Are we just going to throw aside all of the youth pastors in the country, not to mention the world, who wake up every day and go into work, which in many ways is like going into battle, for the young people of this world? Are we going to cast aside the volunteer youth workers like me, who give of their time, talents and treasures to reach young people, to carry out and live out the passion that God Almighty has put inside of us? Am I to simply cast aside and forget about the eleven years I’ve spent in volunteer ministry, and all the success stories along the way, just because there were some failures too? (I’m not so proud as to gloss over my failures, and I think my blog serves as evidence of that) Are we going to throw away decades of what churches of all denominational stripes have been doing because not every student who graduates out of a youth group becomes a mature Christian? And who’s definition of ‘mature Christian’ are we going to go with, anyway?

    I could go on, but I’m sure this would turn into a blog post in and of itself, and I have my own blog for that. And I think I know what my next post is going to be about.

    Thanks for sharing this, and giving me a space to react.

  • adam mclane says:

    It’s not research. Period. End of story. The fact that it’s presented as such shows that Charisma’s editors didn’t even look at it before publishing it.

    • Tony Myles Tony Myles says:

      No doubt, although I wonder what matters to people these days. The ripple of Facebook, for example, that I bump into is, “Well, what I wrote about ______ was on the mark because I got ‘x’ likes on it.” Maybe the bar has gotten lowered because it’s easier to settle for hits/headlines than dialogue/content. It’s a good lesson for all of us.

  • Ryan says:

    An excellent and timely post Tony!

    I work in Detroit as a Youth and Young Adult Pastor but before that I was involved in political advertising and issue advocacy as a producer in DC. I quickly recognized the angle NCFIC is playing here.

    The marketing is quite sharp. The website is clean, well organized. The eBook is free and formatted decently. But the message is initially unclear, hidden behind a misleading URL and a fake questionnaire with forced multiple choice answers. It’s a classic straw man argument.

    This question and multiple choice is a good example of what I mean:
    Q: Does the Bible give clear direction and boundaries for discipling youth in the church?

    1. No. The Bible gives us the gospel, but how to reach youth with it is up to us to figure out in each generation.
    (The Bible contains only the gospel and has nothing to say about reaching youth? This can’t be a popular answer.)

    2. Yes, but there is a lot of flexibility since it doesn’t say much.
    (The Bible doesn’t say much about direction, boundaries, or discipleship for children/youth/young adults? That doesn’t seem right either.)

    3. Yes, the Bible gives us all the direction we need to disciple youth and constrains us from using worldly innovations.
    (This is of course the directed answer they’re pushing. The problem here is that NCFIC is using a very “worldly innovation” to reach their audience. A worldly little thing called the Internet.)

    Once the straw man argument has been deployed then it’s on to a typical bait and switch maneuver seen all too often in the world of political gerrymandering. Step 1: Garner attention by attacking a well used model. Step 2: Proffer an solution to said problem that just so happens to be tied to your book sales/speaking tours/dvd/political influence/agenda. I wonder if it would trouble NCFIC to learn that this method has been used in Europe for generations to limit religious rights and clamp down on free speech?

    NCFIC is an offshoot of Vision Forum Ministries, which has shut down over dubious practices. To me this is fueled by the same spirit that splits churches over electric guitar in worship, using a specific translation, or the color of the carpet. It’s regrettable this para-church group didn’t apply Mark 9:40 to their business plan. The world is filled with the hurting, relationally hungry, and spiritually lost and these guys are try to sell books and dvds by attacking a cultural style?

    Over the past 20 years the church has really advanced in methodology, accessibility, and style. Of course it’s not all been roses, we’ve sacrificed depth for breadth in some areas, but most of it was much. Wise as serpents, gentle as doves and all that. The truth stays the same for all time, but the method must stay flexible. But, there will always be people with misplaced sentiment from the good old days yelling at whippersnappers to get off their lawn. I think I remember a story of a similar group grumbling around a desert for 40 years. God didn’t force a change in their hearts, reward their stubbornness, or allow them into the promised land. He just waited until they were done. Done living, that is. It’s a dangerous and sad attitude. One of my best youth workers is in her 80s. And the students love her!

    For good or ill, whenever there’s a group of like minded folks there’s a market for products targeted to the their sensibilities. And it looks like NCFIC is selling.

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