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Keywords: THE IMPACT OF YOUTH MINISTRY ON CHURCH GROWTH
This study examines the impact of youth ministry with respect to church growth in Nigeria. The youth ministry has been neglected by the church which gives priority to false success images as opposed to the youth well-being. In today’s church, of all the teenagers’ diverse viewpoints, it cannot be ignored that the youth are the church and the world both in the present and the future. This is seen as in their support for the church members who are adults in teaching them and assuming church responsibilities in the future when they grow older. In contrast, the youth today have been known to take a nosedive into the technological and consumerism distracting worlds that lead to destruction of their spiritual attachment with Jesus as well as their ties with the family. As is evidence, the dominating secular culture in the world deprives the youth of personal, economic and spiritual tools which will aid the young generation into being Christ’s disciples. In turn, the young generation has sought to neglect their role in spreading the gospel and settled for less since they have been ignored by the church and the society at large.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Review of Related Literature
Summary of Literature Review
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
1.1 Background of the study
Church Growth is a movement within evangelical Christianity which focuses on developing methods to grow churches based on business marketing strategies. It cannot be disputed that youths play a vital role in the life of a Church as they are the leaders of tomorrow and future of the church. The elderly stands out but youth’s contributions have been shinning and have always been flag bearers of every Church. For any tangible growth to take place in any Christian community, the youth must be significant in that process of growth. This is the more reason why wise nations, countries, groups and organization focus more on the development of youths so that the future of such investments would never be improvised or blind. It is therefore of vital importance in today’s Church to prepare assiduously youths for the tasks they would naturally face in the coming future. It is only when we have nourished our youths that they in-turn develop the Church. The questions are “what amount of attention do we give the youths and what level of devotion does the youths give to the church.
The youths of today have very high ideals, and to deny this would be grossly unfair. But we must admit that very often these ideals can sour, can be perverted and can be exploited. Often young people ultimately relinquish their ideals if they suspect that the situation is hopeless; if they conclude that nowhere can these ideals be fulfilled. Unfortunately, this is the usual progression of events today. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity …” 1 Timothy 4:12. This is an admonition on the need to live a Holy and blameless life addressed to a young man, Timothy. But, premarital sex, insolent speech, materialism, ruthlessness, theft and violence are some of the common vices generally found among Christian youths today.
Disappointments lead to abysmal falls, often to depths lower than those they condemned when their idealism was fresh. Where this does not happen, ideals are exploited by false prophets of good. The sectarians far from the fullness of truth are able to inspire youth to make such amazing sacrifices Yet at the same time, the Orthodox Church, possessing the fullness of Truth, has a real difficulty in keeping her youth(Abednego: 1989). It could be that in ignoring the high ideals and potential moral heroism of our youth we have failed to familiarize them with our examples of such heroism, displayed by our own young, even the very young, who loved Christ and His Church in past ages. The youths are important fabrics in the society. Can there be any society without youth? Obviously no, that is why we must see to it that our youths find their rightful places in the church. David and Pat Alexander emphasized that:
“Salvation is God’s gift, but it carries with it the obligation to live and behave, from that point on, as God wants. This means deliberately discarding the old (selfish way of life), shedding former habits, and letting the new life change our thinking and remold our pattern of behavior.
According to the Alexander’s view, supra, our salvation carries with it a responsibility for a new lifestyle; we are expected to change our thinking, remold our lifestyle, and to live a life of obedience to the word of God. Our Lord Jesus explained that:
Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beats against that house and it fell with a great crash (Matthew 7:24 – 27).
Church growth begins with church health and not the other way around. We see in nature that healthy things grow. This is by no means a new concept, but it’s still true. From this research, we will discover what a healthy church is like and how youth life style can boost church growth.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
One key problem is the inability to examine youth ministries and church growth today. Another problem is how best to measure numerical growth. A variety of indicators for attendance and occasional offices are available, but all are affected to some degree by measurement error and random fluctuations. Such variability poses particular problems with small churches, where the addition or subtraction of just a few people produces large proportional changes in the totals. Today, a great percentage of our Christian youths are living a life of disobedience to the Word of God, they are copying the patterns of this world with dexterity. Today, the lifestyle of the youth is such that it is very difficult to have a distinction between Christian youths and of those who are not Christians. How can we change the perspective of our youth who are easily lured and enticed by worldly lifestyle? This research is vital because it aims at making an analysis on the impact of youth ministry on church growth, enlightening them and warning the victims of the dangers ahead. Most organizations especially in church set up always want their youths to live and practice the godly lifestyles (character trait of Jesus), the absence of this brings a very big problem between the youths and the leadership of the church. In some instances, the youths are removed from position of leadership or placed on church discipline. This indicates that Christian organizations are after godly lifestyles that will lead to a very good behavior and achievement of its goals and objective.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this present study is to examine impact of youth ministry on church growth. The researcher intends to cross examine the following sub objectives;
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated by the researcher to guide the indebt of this research;
1.5 Research hypotheses
The following research hypothesis will guide the study;
Ho: there is no significant relationship between the youth ministry and church growth
H1: there is a significant relationship between the youth ministry and church growth
Ho: the youth ministry does not go in line with the church doctrine
H2: The youth ministries do go in line with the church doctrine
1.6 Significance of the study
This research work will assist churches, ministries, pastors, etc in discovering the vital roles youths play in the life of a Church as they are the leaders of tomorrow and future of every church. From this research, we will discover what a healthy church is like and how youth life style can boost church growth. This research is very significant because youths are the future of every organization especially the Church. Many, if not all church denominations in Nigeria have been affected by the change in the lifestyles of their youths. The researcher aims at digging the root cause, the effect and the appropriate way of solving the worldly lifestyles affecting our youth ministries so that organizations, parents and youth will benefit from the research findings.
1.7 Scope/Limitations of the study
A research of this nature on the impact of youth ministry on church growth seems broad such that it cannot be exhausted in this research work. For this reason, the research shall focus on what the Bible teaches about Christian youth and godly lifestyles, the root causes of moral degradation and eroding of our Christian values among Christian Youths, its effect on the youth and society, and how they can overcome these negative tendencies. On the other hand, this research shall focus on some selected churches in Nigeria only because of security challenges, time, and budgetary constraints. The researcher shall sample the opinion of some selected Christian youths from different churches in Nigeria through a questionnaire.
Limitations of study
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Definition of terms
Many terms have been used in this work but few uncommon English terms are defined below. These definitions should be understood in their utility for our purpose:
Youth Ministry: Youth Ministry, also commonly referred to as youth group, is an age-specific religious ministry. Faith groups or other religious organizations carry out youth ministry to involve and engage with young people who attend their places of worship, or who live in their community.
Church Growth: is a movement within evangelical Christianity which focuses on developing methods to grow churches based on business marketing strategies.
Youth: Youth is the time of life when one is young, but often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity).
Life style: Lifestyles define us; they are the way we live our lives, what we do, with whom, where, how and what we use to do it.
Acculturation: “is the encounter between one culture and another or encounter between two cultures… it is of course, it is an encounter between two sets of symbols and conceptions, two different interpretations of experience, two social identities.”
Cult: “is any religious group which differs significantly in some one or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious groups which are regarded as the normative expressions of religion in our total culture.”
Culture: Culture “refer to the common ideas, feelings, and values that guide community and personal behavior that organize and regulate what the group thinks, feels and does about God, the world, and humanity.”
Culture Shifts: “occur not only because of outside influence, but also because of the invention of new ideas and products, which make old things and old ways obsolete.”
Keywords: THE IMPACT OF YOUTH MINISTRY ON CHURCH GROWTH