Friday, June 8, 2007

Youth start new denomination

TAMPA, FL - "The youth of America are starting a new revolution in church!" stated Zack Bell, formerly a member of the Coastal Community Church youth group.

Religion Roundtable has learned from its sources that a large number of youth in the central Florida region have joined together to form a new denomination. Zack Bell, spokesman for the youth said to reporters, "Our new denomination is named Youth Church in America (YCA). The denomination is open to anyone in middle and high school. Our purpose is to reach the youth of this country. Traditional churches, with lots of old folks, do not focus enough energy on youth. That is our goal and purpose."

Jenny Smyth, a 14-year-old member of the new denomination told us, "My parents aren't really sure what to think of all this. They want me to go to the same church with them, but they also want what is best for me. They know I need to be with other kids my age so I can fit in and be normal."

We at Religion Roundtable were a bit skeptical. We asked Mr. Bell several questions such as , "What do you believe? What will you do? Where will you be meeting? Where will the funding come from? What happens to the kids who graduate from high school?"

Bell responded, "We don't have all the answers right now. We do know this: we love Jesus! We are going to use lots of music and fun activities to reach youth. We will put a premium on advertising and pizza parties"

RR asked one final question, "Who will the elders be?"

Bell said, "There are always some kids who had to repeat first grade. Because of that, they are 19-years-old. Since they are the oldest we have, they will be the elders."

Several church leaders have spoken out against the YCA. Joel Osteen, for one, said, "This just doesn't seem right to me. It doesn't sound very biblical."


thekingpin68 said...

RR asked one final question, "Who will the elders be?"

Actually, with Christian Union in the United Kingdom, a situation somewhat like this can occur as the CU Saturday night service and organization is run by college students. From my experience in the UK there was some interesting theology expressed.;)

Religion Roundtable said...

Thanks for your comment.

It seems that while the bible does not give a specific age for eldership, the 30 year mark is a good idea. Jesus was about 30 when he began his ministry, as was John the Baptist. David became king at 30.

Age, of course, does not prevent poor theology, but it seems to help. The younger the leaders are, it seems the more likely their theology will stray from the bible.

Nicholas said...

This sounds like a good argument against youth ministry within the church all together. I think we have the tendency to create para-church ministries within the church when we divide the family every week for worship and fellowship. I'm more in line with Voddie Baucham's Family Integrated Church model than I am with the division that is created in most traditional models. "Youth ministry" has a tendency to give parents the idea that discipleship is no longer their responsibility, and the church then becomes the twice per week drive-thru morales shop, but in most cases it seems that the disciple-maker is broken.

And to you comment on age (to name only a few):
Spurgeon started at 16

Edwards was licensed at 19

Owen started (after 2 degrees) in his early 20's

Calvin was thought to be around 14

Contemporary examples:
Mark Driscoll started Mars Hill at 25

I would take Josh Harris' brothers as elders any day -- they're 18 (

I don't think that we should even consider age -- it's a dangerous approach. In fact, Paul exhorted Timothy in this: "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). We are better to stick to standards consistent with 1 Tim. 3:1-7.

Religion Roundtable said...


Thanks for your insightful comment. I really appreciate your insight because of your direct experience in youth ministry.

I personally favor a family integrated approach, but I also think there is a place for and a need for youth ministry within that model. It is the separating out of the youth, and especially the abdication of the shepherding and teaching responsibility by fathers, that I think is un-biblical.

As far as age goes, spiritual maturity is obviously far more important than chronological age. However, I still think the biblical model of 30 is a wise place to start. Part of this has to do with the natural maturing process we hope most men will go through as they get older. Part of it is also do to the fact that many within the church will (unfairly) not listen to a young man regardless of his spiritual wisdom and maturity.

The examples you provide are quite impressive. Who's going to argue with Calvin, Owen, Edwards, and Spurgeon? Well, I suppose some Arminians would, but that is another discussion.

As far as Timothy goes, we really have no solid idea how old he was. He could have been well over 30.

All that said, I am not in favor of making age 30 some sort of black-and-white cut off, but I do think that in the case of most normal (i.e. non-Edwards types) elders, 30 is a wise place to at least begin the process.