Table Mission 2
Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                       February 18, 2008
In This Issue
The Teen Myth
My Reflections
Quick Links

Some quotes stay with you. This one's stayed with me.
"The term 'laity' is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from the Christian conversation." -Karl Barth
This week I've excerpted Frank Viola's and George Barna's new book, Pagan Christianity. Still on the topic of leadership, I found the below history of the "youth pastor" interesting. As an advocate for the simple church, I'm keenly interested in the biblical notion of fathering and mothering (i.e. a biblical method of raising the next generation of leaders). As such, I'm also keenly interested in those things that hinder biblical fathering and mothering.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: Raising up the next generation of Christian leaders
The Teen Myth 
Excerpted from Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna
Pagan ChristianityThe youth pastor began appearing in churches long after Sunday schools, largely because society did not recognize or cater to the needs of this age group until the twentieth century. In 1905, G. Stanley Hall popularized the concept of the "adolescent" as distinct from the young adult and the older child.
Then in the 1940's, the term teenager was born. And for the first time a distinct youth subculture was created. People ages thirteen to nineteen were no longer simply "youths." They were now "teenagers."
After World War II, Americans developed great concern for the young people of our nation. This concern spilled over into the Christian church. Youth rallies in the 1930s laboring under the banner "Youth for Christ" spawned a parachurch organization by the same name around 1945.
With new understanding and concern for the "teenagers," the idea that someone needed to be employed to work with them emerged. Thus was born the professional youth minister. The youth pastor began working in large urban churches in the 1930s and 1940s. Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan had one of the very first youth pastors. Moody Monthly magazine wrote about him in the late 1930s.
The majority of youth ministers in this era, however, worked for the emerging parachurch organizations that filled the Christian landscape. By the early 1950s, thousands of professional youth ministers were meeting the spiritual needs of young people, who now had their own music, dress, literature, language, and etiquette. During this time, the Christian church began to segregate teenagers from everyone else.
From the mid-1950s to the end of the 1960s, the youth pastor became an established part of evangelical churches. (The position took off a bit more slowly in the mainline denominations.) By the end of the 1980s, youth ministry's shift from the parachurch organizations to institutional churches was pretty well complete.
Today, youth pastors are part of the professional clergy. Their position is built on the contemporary church's misguided choice to honor a division that was born in secular culture less than a century ago - namely, the division between teenager and everyone else.
Put another way, the youth pastor did not exist until a separate demographic group called teenagers emerged. In so doing, we created a problem that never before existed - what to do for (and with) the young people. It is not at all unlike the problem we created when a new class of Christian - the "laymen" - was invented. The question "How do we equip the laity?" was never asked before the institutional church made them a separate class of Christian.
My Reflections

If you get the chance I'd certainly pick up Barna's new book, Pagan Christianity. And by new, I mean new to Barna; Frank Viola actually wrote the first edition in 2002. Barna, now counting himself among those having gone organic, has lent his name to the book, thereby giving the book a "voice," and added a few chapters.
The book is well documented and thoroughly unpacks church-as-we-have-come-to-know-it dogma. The above excerpt is especially meaningful to me because it reminds me that the onus of raising my boys to be God-fearing men is on me, not a paid professional.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table