I have worked for two different kinds of churches over the years of doing youth ministry, in now my 7th church. Each kind of church had at the center of its garden of vision and expectations its own tree. The two different kinds of trees produced their own particular Gospel as its fruit.
Each determined the kind of youth ministry I was supposed to provide and lead. Each kind of church, tree, and gospel led to an ultimate ministry direction. Consider these 2 verses, as you determine where you may be serving current in your youth ministry, before considering my reflections below.
GAL. 1: 6-7, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ"
GEN. 2:8-9, "Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
THE CHURCH, TREE & GOSPEL OF LIFE
THE CHURCH, TREE & GOSPEL OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD & EVIL
Living The Word. Studying the Word Only
Doing Ministry. Knowing Ministry.
Focus on Reaching. Focus on Teaching.
Appeal to the Heart. Appeal to the Head.
Faith and Hope. Fear and Doom.
Love Leads to Being Obedient. Obedience Leads to Being Loved.
Worship Services. Wisdom Seminars.
Humble & Holiness. Pride & Piety.
Internal Desire. External Duty.
Go & Do For the World. Stay & Be For the Church.
What is Right with God. What is Wrong with the World.
Living the Kingdom. Waiting for the World to End
Seeking Godliness. Seeking to be "like" God.
Eternal Life. Earthly Knowledge.
Look at God. Look at Us.
Centered on God. Centered on a Man.
Knowing the Hope of Life. Knowing only Good & Evil.
Walking with God. Hiding from Sin.
The list and comparisons could, of course, go on. I write this not as a critique but rather a challenge. It came out of something my present pastor said this last Sunday during the introduction to his series on the book of Galatians- "Satan did not appeal to Eve's desire to be sinful. He appealed to her desire to be like God." It began to make me reflect and consider some things about the ministries I have served in over the year, the churches I was raised in and also my own heart.
We have a different hope, perspective and "Good News". For some reason, however, even after all these years since Paul's writing to the Galatians, churches are still choosing a different kind of gospel, a different kind of fruit, and choosing to be a different kind of church. We in youth ministry, especially those of use doing ministry in the pivotal 5th-9th grade years of faith, must choose every day to offer our students the fruit for the tree of LIFE over the deception of just offering them simply more knowledge.