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Where Goeth Adventist Youth Ministries? — 18 Comments

  1. Dear Cindy,

    The originators of the Youth Society were converted individuals, that is why they had a burning desire to share the gospel. Today's youth, may be indoctrinated and the majority not even indoctrinated, never mind converted. Of course this does not apply to all of them; but where I am, out of 50 youth I could count 2 maybe 3 who have provided evidence of true conversion. Evangelism MUST be the out flow of a heart burning for God. So, how sending the youth to do missionary work will do it? It is not doing evangelism that leads to conversion but it is conversion that leads to TRUE evangelism.

    God bless.


    • Mary

      Ellen White makes an intriguing statement in vol 1 of the Review and Herald articles, page 238:

      "If coldness and indifference have crept over your spiritual senses, and your interest for those who are perishing in their sin is decreasing, it is time you were converted. Your best course will be to engage at once in personal efforts to save others. . ."

      Notice what she says--Witnessing and heping others helps the Holy Spirit to convert us!

      I've seen it again and again. Young people whose primary focus was fashion, relationships, sports, music, and the Internet found something, Someone, worth serving outside of themselves when given the opportunity to be an evangelist for the kingdom of God.

  2. I have enjoyed the excerps of the youths article, it is true with changing world, it is becoming very difficult for youths to be dedicated to evangelical work. What I have seen in our church, some trying like organizing meeting 2 to weeks comunity meeting which ends into baptism of new members. However, it is different to the past. I will share the article to our youths organization since it is an insight.

  3. Enjoyed your article, Cindy. I think that Mary has presented an idea that may be the problem to a large degree. To be Laodicean is to be "unconverted". Many of our youth leave the church and many who stay have been buried alive. Our churches and institutions have not been there for them. When we read the Spirit of Prophecy we find that they were to be the training ground for our young people. They have failed.

    Today, we witness, as they do, a whole division pushing away from the world church. We see an institution of "higher education" teaching evolution. These things have their influence upon the youth.

    When one is truly converted, you cannot hold them back from evangelism. A baby Christian is on fire for Jesus and will begin immediately doing evangelism. But, Jesus' Words, "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees" apply in the church today. A truly born again youth can and often is leavened by Laodicea. What had been understood to be the pattern soon is seen to be narrow and binding. It is very sad. The best thing we can do is to be an example of true Christianity to our youth. They need to see Jesus in the church. They need to see the fruits of the Spirit in those who have long been in the faith. They need to hear testimonies of how Jesus is alive and working through humanity.

    They need to be instructed to keep their eyes upon Jesus and to trust in the Bible, not in man. We all need to better understand our continual need of Jesus that we might do any good thing. I appreciate your list of resources, there are some good ones listed. Let us pray for our youth and do all we can to encourage them to let Jesus lead in their lives.

  4. SDA youth are no longer involved because they have become passive observers of their own spirituality. How are young people supposed to feel engaged and stimulated when all the answers are discovered, every doctrine codified?

    The early history of the Adventist movement was filled with new discoveries, with Biblical searching, and honest moral questioning. Now we're the chosen, remnant church. We have all the answers, thank you very much. The role of the youth is simply to accept, with very little questioning, the traditions of an older generation.

    In fact, this attitude is fundamentally at odds with the teachings of Jesus, and even the great commission. As Adventists, too often we have a superiority complex perhaps only matched by the Jews of Jesus' time. They certainly didn't evangelize. They had all the answers, and trusted in their own legalized righteousness to save them. Why should they concern themselves with the gentiles? I find it ironic that so many Adventists, just as Cindy did above, talk about converting "non-Adventists" rather than non-Christians. The great commission called us to make disciples of Christ, not of Ellen White or of our own unique interpretations of scripture. We've become the equivalent of a pharisaical sect, arguing the finer points of the law with other Jews!

    This is the fundamental reason young people are leaving the church. They look around and see a church full of "dead men's bones." There's no honest debate, no Biblical searching, no room for new ideas or thoughts. We're still so rooted in the past that we have racially segregated churches and discriminate against women on both a corporate and spiritual level. Young people look at the church and see a dead husk of what the Advent movement used to be. Re-starting AY activities isn't going to solve the problem. Our youth are leaving, and they're finding Christ elsewhere.

  5. As one who came into the church, rather than being born into it, I find that the truth as it is in Jesus is very attractive. Having searched for truth in many churches, I have found it in my Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. No man or woman could stand in my way of finding Christ or His truth.

    It is true that there are many difficulties, but young people who are converted have spiritual discernment and they find the truth in the church. They, like the disciples of Christ, sort through the trash and find the jewels. There is no where else to go. As with the disciples, we are bidden to take the truth to the church and to the world.

    When young people turn to Christ for their truth, when they study to know God, then they will see a wide opportunity within the church. As "Young Adult" sees, there is much to change within the church. Those who are converted, both old and young, are privileged to play a part in the revival and reformation taking place in the church.

    When Cindy spoke of "converting non-Adventists" I took it to mean ALL who are not in God's church. That would include non-Christians. The Seventh-day Adventist young people that I know who are converted are not seeking to convert only those in Babylon, but are taking the truth entrusted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church where ever they find opportunity. Many are going door to door as we have been encouraged to do. All who are discouraged are discouraged because they do not have their eyes upon Jesus.

    There is a battle against the truth. It will not end until Jesus returns. Let us walk in the light as He is in the light and then more of the youth will see that there is a God and this is God's church.

  6. I believe that we are missing a fundmental piece of the puzzle as it comes to ministering to and for youth in our church.

    First of all, we are planning programs which are not relevant to the cultural and generational needs of our youth. You see, if we follow the master teacher-Jesus, he made sure that his parables, stories and illustrations were culturally and generationally in sync with his audience. He used the illustrations and examples that his listeners were accustomed to and knew well. Then he inserted his spiritual app, thus making it easier for his listeners to receive, be challenged by and then accept.

    My friends, in our SDA Churches, our leaders, even the so-called Youth Leaders don't even realize that this Post-Modern Millennial Generation has a specific list of characteristics that are different from the former generation. It therefore stand to reason that if we don't know their culture and generation, they will be unable to minister to them and their friends? How can we use their music, their tech savviness, their constant connectivity to interest them in evangelism? A former poster questioned about which comes first, conversion or evangelism. And I do agree that a converted heart cannot remain quiet about it's expereince. But I have seen the joy of an activity, the rhythm of music, the positive peer group dynamics of a project all used as the drawing tools in Jesus' stories to teach spiritual lessons which sometimes lead to conversion.

    Our 21st Century youth are powerfully influenced by outside forces. What element do you intentionally and deliberately design and create to attract our SDA Youth to our Lord Jesus? Trust me!! When they are attracted to Jesus, you willl be amazed at their creativity in evangelism.

  7. Thank you Dr Tutsch for this sober article and the thought-provoking question you pose.

    One area that has been under-emphasized and not appreciated at all is the area of digital witness. Adventist youth are among the more educated and tech savvy population, certainly in cities like NY, where I minister.

    I have done seminars on empowering youth to use Facebook and new media to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I see how the youth embrace the challenge. Top down solutions coming from adults or from centralized command centers appear to be doing little to capture the imagination and energies of our youth.

    Our young people don't need any help or training to use Facebook, which has as many as 800 million users. But they do need direction in using these media for the glory of God. I have seen what happens when young people realize that FB can be a tool not just to post inane updates about their eating and dressing, but to reach people who do not Jesus with a lived message that faith in Jesus Christ is key to an abundant life lived in loving, compassionate, tolerant interaction with others.

    FB and other new media pose challenges for the church and youth ministry. Others have documented how little Christians interact with non-Christians online (mirroring "real" world interaction). The great majority of people on Fb are in countries of teh world where Christianity (and Adventism, by extension)has the lowest penetration rates.

    Maybe this is something Dr Tutsch can look into. Our youth have the tools and they know how to use the tools. In many cases they need guidance in using these tools for the glory of God and his church.

    Trevor Ducreay

  8. I just have a passion for the youths. As one person posted earlier, there are youths in the church but they are not truly converted. I know, I was one of them.One needs to be converted to truly evangelize. I have been praying for God to give me the courage and the insight to help to impact the youth in our church.
    I am not sure how and where to start.

  9. Trevor, you are so right! We each have unique opportunities to reach others. We are looking at Facebook and other of the social medias. As much as I despise them, it does not mean that they cannot be used to God's glory. The ones who are familiar with them, will best be able to show me how to use them to God's glory. They need guidance. But, it is a great resource, one of many that can be used by youth to reach the lost. And, there are others that God approves of.

    I get excited when I think of the energy and zeal that converted youth display!

    • seteisha, God will lead you. He is the one who placed the burden on your heart. As you submit daily to Jesus, He will continue to guide you. It seems that there are two efforts to be made and they interconnect. First, there is a ministry in the church to lead the youth to Christ. Then, they need to be put to work. But, they can be put to work before conversion. They need to be put to the right kind of work. They need to be led by those who are being led of God.

      You know how exciting it is to be used of God to lead others to Christ. Well, if the young people are studying and they are sincere in their desire, then take them by the hand and go door to door passing out tracts, telling about Jesus. It will work wonders for those who participate. As they tell of what Jesus has done for them, it will work on their own hearts bringing them closer to Jesus.

      Find someone in your church who has experience in going door to door. Always go at least two by two. Ask for God's blessing and you will receive it as you walk in the light He has given. The truths entrusted to us as a people, when combined with loving Christians who care for the lost, will meet with success.

      Pass out tracts like the leaves of Autumn! God will bless you and your youth!! And, take the opportunity to study the light we have been given. The sincere youth will want to grow in their understanding.

  10. Neals, asked: "What element do you intentionally and deliberately design and create to attract our SDA Youth to our Lord Jesus?"

    The truth is what will convert the youth as it does all of us. We are saved by grace, through faith. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. You ask about our youth. They are in the church. If they hear the truth of the power of God's love and they take time to know God, then they will be converted.

    But, not being converted, because you ask how to attract them to Jesus, means that they may not have an interest in taking time to learn of Jesus. The Bible is a revelation of Christ. So, what shall we do to lead our own youth to Christ. Well...you know the answer first is with the parents. But, let's say that has failed. Then, we in the church must pick up the task. Well...the schools are to be vehicles to lead the children and youth to Christ. Let's say they failed also. Then, what can we, the church member do?

    We do as Jesus did. He spent more time healing than preaching. We must take a personal interest in the youth. A real interest in them. I don't see this so much as organized programs as I do in taking a real personal interest in individuals. Meeting a physical need works as much with youth as with adults. They have needs as do adults. They want to be loved and to be important. If we take time to talk with them about their school or hobbies, they will appreciate our interest. This will open the door to talk about Jesus.

    I have witnessed what taking an interest in young people does. And, I have seen the response when they get involved in sharing the truth with those who are seeking truth. It works to bless both the giver and the one receiving. We are to be working in the world, but not of the world. We must walk in the path of Jesus and we will be blessed as we follow the counsel we have been given even if it is over a hundred years old. The principles remain the same.

  11. I'm not sure how appropriate it would be to use professed unbelievers for the specific work of teaching others about Christ. How can you introduce people to Someone you yourself don't know?

    On the other hand, evangelism in the context of meeting the temporal needs of others are activities even the unconverted can participate in that also spread the gospel. By being involved in others-oriented service, others are helped and the helper is helped. It's win-win. This is, perhaps, where we really need to place emphasis when it comes to youth ministry. It is easier both to reach others for Christ and yourself be reached by Christ while working like Christ.

    The commentator that signed "Young Adult" made some great points in regards to the stagnant growth in the knowledge of the church and her tendency to resist new understandings and viewpoints. Old ideas and paradigms prevail where more light should have expanded our understanding as God is limitless in His greatness and thus so too should be our learning and understanding of the revealed word. Young people see the contrast of a rapidly changing world where expansion of knowledge is seen as good with that of a church that is often dogmatic, dictatorial, legalistic and even antagonistic toward genuine diversity and expansion of knowledge. They also see the racism in the divisions of our north american conferences and scoff at the hypocrisy. These things, among others, are part of the sinful nature of even converted believers that we need to root out!

    While the church has enough blame to bear for the disinterest of our youth, let's be clear that the youth themselves are also responsible for their own choices and thus the passions they feed--whether that of the flesh or that of the spirit. To lay it all in the lap of the church is nonsense. There's enough blame (and therefore responsibility for solving) to go around.

    We need to get back to serving the needs of our communities without strings attached and make our youths come along, participate and even lead out in these efforts. We also need to get back to being about the Word and about Christ and not denominationalism and churchianity. Other-centered, self-sacrificing loving service to our fellow man and submission to and intimacy with our Heavenly Father is the fundamental and most important purposes of our existence. These are the two great principles all the law and the prophets are founded on. Let us be about that. All of us!


  12. Once again, the plain and simple fact is that the average Adventist youth on Facebook potentially has more chances to interact with non-Christians and non-Adventists than in any other environment.

    If "evangelism" has anything to do with reaching non-Christians and non-Adventists with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of the three angels message, then that fact has to be reckoned with, not just grudgingly acknowledged.

    We fail to grasp that at our and our youth's peril.

  13. Perhaps to understand the decline in youth ministries, we need keep in mind that the lack of interest in ministries is not a problem exclusively affecting SDA youth...
    I grew up seeing a diverse number of flourishing ministries within my church, nowadays only one or two (barely active) remain.

    It's easy to blame external factors by claiming that youth today have become seduced by the "world" and it's trappings, or to pass judgement and label them "unconverted", but by doing so you gravely underestimate their spiritual discernment and ignore the fact that major unresolved issues within our churches may be affecting their choice not to share their SDA faith.

    SDA youth tend to be well educated, intelligent and very analytical because SDA parents tend to raise them that way. Those I am familiar with have no problem proudly identifying themselves as Christians -however they do not feel so proud about being SDA.
    Speaking with youth who are long-time members or those who have been born/raised in the church, the most outspoken will openly say they feel disillusioned with /ashamed of the un-Christ like but traditional practises perpetuated in our churches, but feel there is little they can do to change the way thing are.

    As a 30yr old born SDA, I too have expressed the points raised in Young Adult's post many times! Actually it was rather shocking to read my EXACT opinions about the negative aspects of my SDA church, expressed by another SDA living on the other side of the world!
    Yes, sadly the points made are not limited to the North American region, here in the UK many SDA churches are exactly as Young Adult described.
    Our churches have become archaic, they struggle to retain members (especially young ones) because they do not mirror the positive changes our societies have initiated against racism, segregation, sexism, ageism and intense prejudice, all of which I have either been a victim of or seen openly & repeatedly displayed in many of our UK churches.
    In the "world" laws exist to protect us from such abuse or from having to witness it...and aims to punish the abuser.
    Why haven't we realised that such behaviour is not socially acceptable and has never been Christ-like? Doesn't that make us hypocrites? How can we profess to be the "true church" when we do not practice the basic principles of Jesus' teachings?

    I discussed this topic with a senior member and was told 'don't worry about all that, it's the job of the Holy Spirit, our job is to be fishers of men! Just catch the fish, don't to worry about cleaning the boat.'
    Personally, I disagree with this mentality. In practise, being an SDA should mean more than keeping the Sabbath, evangelising & missionary work. We should be living examples of our faith, and our churches should attract & have no difficulty retaining members, if we model every aspect of our fellowship on Jesus' teachings.

    WE are accountable for the problems in our churches, we must deal with our deep rooted issues, admit we have made errors, confess our sins and ask God to help us change our ways.
    Then maybe the majority of our youth will feel more inspired to evangelise, proud to share their SDA faith and demonstrate a continuous desire to be Christ-like.

  14. "to pass judgement and label them 'unconverted', but by doing so you gravely underestimate their spiritual discernment and ignore the fact that major unresolved issues within our churches may be affecting their choice not to share their SDA faith."

    If the youth as a group were converted, we would not be having this discussion. They would be doing evangelism and not waiting for someone else. And, I am not singling out the youth, the church is in a Laodicean condition and that is "unconverted". That is why many of the youth are in the condition they are. That is why you see hypocrisy in the churches. Before we can find a solution we have to see the problem. It begins with me and my family and my church. It is a blessing to hear the call for revival and reformation. It seems that we all agree on that. It has been missing for over ten years. Let us search our own hearts and see if we be in the faith. Then we can be a part of the solution.

    We ought to be motivated if we want to see our children in heaven.

  15. Having read a most thought provoking article and the subsequent responses, I get a sense that we all share a common love for, and concern about our young people and this has prompted my communication. I remember that the OT records that King David had among his men a group from Issachar whose chief and most signal trait was that they were able to discern the times and give advice as to appropriate action. I think that in the case of our youth, one of the keys to reaching and directing their thoughts and actions is to understand the context of their lives and the drivers and motivations that propel them to action. Their lives must be a gradual process of continuous growth and renewal of their faith and we must assist by providing them with the touchpoints for their experiences. In addition, we must allow them to explore their world and have the faith to trust God to give them a sense of self and where they fit in God's grand design. That process of self discovery will fit them for the kingdom and we who have been there should share our experiences with a view to encouraging them. In Gland Switzerland 1926, We adopted a slogan for our youth : To save from sin and to guide into service". The mission hasn't changed but the times have!

    • Amen, Steve! We not only love our young people, but we see the dangers out there and sorrow over the many who are presently lost. It is a wicked world. Your "slogan" brought to mind the great need to try and understand each young person. It brought to mind a statement that is aimed at children, but it also pertains to young adults and even to us older folk, in reference to understanding the character of those we want to help.

      "Every child brought into the world increases the responsibility of the parents. . . . Their dispositions, their tendencies, their traits of character are to be studied. Very carefully should the discriminating powers of the parents be educated, that they may be enabled to repress the wrong tendencies and encourage right impressions and correct principles.

      Violence or harshness is not required in this work. Self-control must be cultivated and leave its impression on the mind and heart of the child.

      It is a very nice work to deal with human minds. All children cannot be treated in the same way, for that restraint which must be kept upon one would crush out the life of another." CG 205

      "To save from sin and to "guide" into service." A very nice slogan. May God grant us wisdom and grace to follow that good counsel.


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