In a recent conversation with a well intending parent they passively mentioned to me that they would just like their student to "get it." I put the pieces together and figured that by "get it" they actually meant that they wanted their kid to have a perfect faith, make perfect grades, respect them, and desire to be at church every time the doors open. So who's guilty?
In a converstation with a student not long after that, they complained that they just wanted their parents to stop pushing everything on them and allow them to make their own choice about what they believe. They were frustrated and felt like they didn't have enough freedom to make their own choices about going to church. So who's guilty?
Somewhere in the midst of the parent-student tension lies the Youth Group. Everyone thinks it is the responsibility of the youth ministry to turn out spiritually mature and well rounded students who love Jesus, like we are the local candy factory. Sarcasm warning: it is as easy as adding a little sugar, providing some heat, a little yellow and green flavoring, and walla, perfect Jesus loving student. Well, since it isn't actually that easy, who's guilty?
When we take a quick look as some statistics, we see that somewhere in the neighborhood of 95% of all student who regularly attend church as Junior High and High School students will leave the church after they graduate. So, without throwing the entire model of "youth ministry" out the window, who's guilty?
In a culture that hates to take personal responsibility for the choices we make and how we live, it is not at all surprising that everyone seems to be playing the blame game. Parents and students alike will at some point blame the youth ministry for not being good enough or spiritual enough or for feeding the students to much pizza. Parents will blame the student for not caring or having any sort of conviction. Students will blame their parents for making them go to church at gun point and forcing their religion on them. And people will even have the nerve to blame God for not making their life perefect or answering their prayers; as if we are entitled to a state of perfection. So, who's guilty?
While I confess that I used the "who's guilty" question to get your attention, I think a better question is, who is reponsible for the spiritual transformation of students? Ultimately, the answer to this question is pretty easy, we have to all take responsibility for our own spiritual transformation. Meaning, thanks to the grace of God, we daily choose whether to pursue God or ignore God.
In a perfect world, which clearly doesn't exist thanks to our human depravity, we would all work together cohesively when it comes to spiritual formation. God has the largest role of all for apart from Him this wouldn't be a converstation, students have the second largest role because they have to choose to want it, parents have the huge role of encouraging their kids and raising them in a way that points them toward God, and youth group has the role of helping to equip them in how to live out their faith.
We all need to start taking responsibility for our own spiritual transformation and stop playing the blame game. I am pretty sure that when you stand before God at the throne of Judgement and He says that He never knew you, you are the one that is going to be responsible. It is time to start taking responsiblity!