The Pendulum Effect

Recently Mark Driscoll posted on Facebook an article asking the question, “Is Your Youth Group Accomplishing Anything?” He talks about how important discipleship is and how youth groups should move away from “attractional youth ministry.”  I can see his point but I do not totally agree with it.  I think there needs to be a balance.  Something needs to attract kids but it is also the job of the church to make disciples (Matt. 28:19).  What we are seeing is what I call “the Pendulum Effect.”  Let me explain what I mean by the Pendulum Effect.  If you look at the Pendulum of a clock it swings back and forth, from one side to the other. In this case I see it as moving from one extreme to the other extreme.  This is something that has been happening in churches for a long time.  At one point in church history, churches allowed their pastors to be in charge of what happened but as more and more pastors came out of liberal colleges with liberal ideas church leadership got scared, and rightly so.  But instead of moving into a direction slowly the pendulum effect happened and church leadership completely took over causing pastors to have no leadership in their congregation.  This is an example of what I mean.  Instead of moving towards the middle we go to the other extreme.

When I read Mark’s article this is what I see.  I can see how easy it would be to move in this direction.  It is easy for youth ministries to do big, attractional programs because they see a lot of kids and it makes them feel good about what they are doing.  Where I think Mark goes wrong is he moves so far in the other direction he leaves out any benefits of these attractional events.  I think there needs to be a blend, a balance.  We need to be discipling kids and reaching out to un-churched kids and getting them interested.  I know this can be hard.  As a youth pastor I only have so many hours to give.  This is where a strong volunteer team is so vital.  With strong volunteers you can delegate some of these responsibilities.  Kent Julian has some great resources to help train volunteers.  With strong volunteers and a focus on reaching kids and discipling them it makes for a balanced youth ministry.

Mark ends his article with this;

And so we changed. But there is no perfect youth group playbook or set of procedures to follow if you want it all to “work.” The only perfect model is to walk daily in the Spirit, to be faithful to his leading in your life as a youth pastor, and to examine the Scriptures and let them be authoritative in how you decide to build your ministry.

I could not agree more with this.  Walk with God daily and be faithful to His leading, this is the only 100% effect way to do youth ministry.


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Chad Dillon

My name is Chad Dillon and I am the Middle School Pastor at Chapel Rock Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. I have also served churches in Ohio and Tennessee. I am husband to Nicole and dad to Madison and Adam. I love to ride my motorcycle and play golf in my spare time. This blog is going to be about my life as a youth minister. The ups, downs and everything in between. I hope you enjoy it.

2 thoughts on “The Pendulum Effect”

  1. I have to agree with you, Chad!
    Why must we swing completely to the opposite extreme? Why can’t we be both attractional AND ensure that discipling is taking place?
    I would say that this pendulum swing is actually a re-swing. Youth Ministry has already aimed at the discipling model for years. It aimed so much at discipling that it forgot that youth actually like to have fun too. To borrow a title from a book by Bil Jackson, we should rather aim to be on “The Quest for the Radical Middle” !

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