Emotionalism & Youth Ministry

In an interview about her new book, Nancy Pearcey gave a comment with which I could not agree more:

Youth groups rarely encourage young people to grapple with tough questions. Instead the goal seems to be to engineer events that ratchet up emotional commitment. But emotional intensity is not enough to block out questions. If anything, it leads teens to redefine Christianity in purely emotional terms — which leaves them vulnerable when they finally do face their questions.

Parents, youth pastors, youth leaders, and church leaders, don’t work up your students emotions, but build up their faith with the solid food of God’s Word. Emotionalism is like a treadmill: it causes a lot of temporary activity, but ultimately gets you nowhere.

Emotionalism is like a treadmill: it causes a lot of temporary activity, but ultimately gets you nowhere.

Don’t get me wrong, feeling the joy that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ is essential to the Christian life. The goodness of our salvation is the joy we obtain from our peace with God through Jesus. The Christian life is a delightful life. What I am saying is that we must labor to make sure the joy of our students is built on Christ; not the loudness of our amps, the dim-lit atmosphere of our rooms, the emotional nature of our stories, the loudness of our voices, or anything else we use to make students shed some tears.

Lasting Christian joy springs from the everlasting truth of Christ.

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