It is God’s design that His Gospel, the Good News of salvation for all who believe in Christ, should be passed down throughout history by each generation reaching and teaching the next. This was clearly spelt out in Deut. 6:6-12, repeated in Deut. 32:45-47 and in Joshua 24. Yet, one of the saddest verses in Scripture is the indictment in Judges 2:10, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (NIV). The indictment is not against the wayward youth, but actually against the older generation who failed to correctly nurture them. It appears as if this indictment may be repeated in our own day. Today, the church is on the brink of a major crisis as many young people are rejecting it as irrelevant, boring and superficial.
The church is always only one generation away from extinction. If Satan can win the soul of just one generation, then he wins the souls of all that follow. The role of youth ministry in a local church is therefore one of the most vital aspects of that church’s existence, and certainly the key to its continued survival. With this in mind, there are a number of critical areas in which churches appear to be failing the generation of young people at the beginning of a new millennium. These can be characterised by five serious misconceptions regarding the role of youth ministry in the local church: