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CLERGY CORNER: Confessions of a Youth Pastor: Part 2

Posted on 30 August 2017 by LeslieM

In part one, I shared why the days of just “playing games with the youth” have ended. If you missed the article or need a refresher, I recommend reviewing it online at www.observernewspaperonline.com. In this second part, I’ll address how parents and guardians, the primary disciple-makers in leading their children to become fully devoted followers of Christ, can effectively partner with youth pastors through the art of quitting.

Jack Klumpenhower, author of Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids, writes, “We’ve been dispensing good advice instead of the Good News,” which is to say the cultural narrative over the Biblical narrative: be happy, healthy and moral, be a good person.

Live a good life and things will go well for you. Find the right spiritual resources and you’ll be blessed. Ask Jesus into your heart and you’ll be saved,” says Klumpenhower, who added that, however, “whatever they learned about Jesus did really change them. They never saw Him so strikingly that He became their one, overriding hope and greatest love, never convinced that Jesus is better — a zillion times better, than anything else.”

And so, Klumpenhower explains that “a frightening number of kids are growing up in churches and Christian homes without ever being captured by the Gospel of Jesus.” 

As a youth pastor, not a pastor in training, but a real pastor with a specific calling to develop the spiritual lives of students, I ask parents and guardians to quit doing the following:

Quit introducing false idols. I knew of a student that was being faithfully mentored and on track to be a leader within his youth ministry. However, for his 16th birthday he was gifted an expensive and trendy vehicle that quickly became the source of his identity. It became his idol. He eventually left the church for worldly pursuits. Parents and guardians, this isn’t to say you can’t provide for your child, but a reminder that anything elevated above God — even family — is an idol. I know you may feel ignored at times, but your children are adopting the things you value. It’s why, for example, skipping church consistently for youth sports is a big deal: everything speaks. Your child needs some iron-sharpening-iron friends and those relationships won’t develop when there are seasons of church hiatuses for an idol.

Quit playing God. While I recognize the paternal instinct to guide and protect one’s child, many parents and guardians are doing so to the detriment of their child: meeting their child’s every need and every want. There is a beautiful thing that happens when we realize that we are wholly dependent on God and that He alone is the one who will ultimately fulfill our needs — and then does! However, many parents are unwittingly removing their child’s need for a savior as they dawn their cape and rush in for the save. Next time your child has, let’s say a problem at school, instead of trying to solve the problem on your own, go to Scripture and prayer and allow God to drive the conversation.

Quit outsourcing discipleship. If I can be blatantly honest, the reason many homes introduce false idols and the parents or guardians assume the role of God is because they themselves are not a fully-devoted follower of Christ. And whether the parent or guardian recognizes it or not, they are making a disciple, another “mushy-middle,” lukewarm Christian seeking the cultural narrative of be moral over the Biblical narrative of be Christ’s. You can’t pass along to your child what you don’t have yourself and, with the ever increasing rise of secularism, a child seeking God (only when it’s convenient) will never be captured by the Gospel of Jesus.

Again, Dr. Jean M. Twenge believes we are “on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades,” and students are leaving the church in droves. To learn how to quit the aforementioned, feel free to contact me directly, because we, youth pastors, desperately seek to partner with you, the parent or guardian, in helping your child become a fully-devoted follower of Christ, and it’s an urgent plea.

C.J. Wetzler is the NextGen pastor at The Church at Deerfield Beach. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. For questions or comments he can be reached at cj@dfb.church.

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FLICKS: Creed & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Posted on 03 December 2015 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


Fatherhood is a strong theme of the movie Creed. While this film is the first Rocky movie I saw without my dad, it is also the first Rocky movie Sylvester Stallone has made since the loss of his son, Sage Stallone, who died of a heart attack in 2012.

In this sequel, Rocky Balboa is a supporting character to Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jordan). A child of foster homes and reform school, young Adonis grew up without his father, who was legendary fictional heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Apollo’s widowed wife, Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad ), takes in the angry boy and raises him as her legitimate son. The lure of the boxing ring remains in his blood, despite the cushy lifestyle he has achieved as a successful business executive.

Adonis seeks out his father’s old rival, Rocky Balboa, who still manages his deceased wife’s restaurant and is lonely since his sidekick, Paulie, died and his son Robert moved to Vancouver. (Note: the picture of Young Rocky and son is that of Sylvester Stallone and his real life son, Sage.) Adonis and Rocky form a partnership that extends beyond the blood, sweat and tears of the boxing ring.

Creed is about growth and passing the torch to a next generation that is willing to receive it. The beauty of this movie is the marriage of old traditions with new ideas. While Rocky may be befuddled by an Apple iPad and the Cloud, the old man can still teach his prodigy the importance of understanding one’s own heart. Creed is a must-see.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the strongest box office champion since James Bond’s Spectre opened. This Hunger Games sequel is a worthy conclusion to author Suzanne Collins’s young adult novels about a dystopian future. The producers do not skimp on the production values. Mockingjay Part 2 opens slowly, but explodes into breathtaking and violent action.

With the ensemble actor’s participation, The Hunger Games movies will grow in stature thanks to Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. There are political themes within as ancient as Aristotle and echoing lyrics from the classic rock band, The Who – “Won’t get fooled again.” The four movies comprising The Hunger Games are pure literary cinema.

Both Creed and The Hunger Games:Mockingjay Part 2 are serious movies that are pure popcorn-eating entertainment. See these films with family members and friends, for the values presented in both movies are worthy of discussion around the dinner table.

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