Study Notes (15 JAN 2015)
Notes from 15 JAN 2015 lecture on youth ministry:
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them… –Luke 18:15*
They, the parents, not youth pastors or Sunday school teachers, were bringing their children to Jesus, and it is still the solemn responsibility of parents today to bring their children to be touched by the Lord. As we see from this verse, this responsibility begins even when a child is only an infant.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6)
This advice is given to a parent, not to a youth pastor or a leader of a youth group.
Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Ps. 34:11)
Once again, this is not an example of a youth pastor or a Sunday school teacher speaking to his or her youth group members or pupils. This is a father speaking to his sons. Similar verses can be easily found throughout the Bible.
Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight; for I give you good precepts: do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me… (Prov. 4:1-4)
Yet another example of advice quite different from: “Hear, O sons, your youth group leader’s instruction, and be attentive to your youth pastor, that you may gain insight… When I was a son with my father, he always dropped me off at Sunday school.”
Very similarly, Church Fathers–notably, Saint John Chrysostom, who is often quoted in these matters–spoke to parents about the proper instruction of their children, not to youth pastors. To the best of my knowledge, there was not a separate youth ministry with a youth pastor, secretary, and treasurer in the Archdiocese of Constantinople under Saint John.
Family is the first and fundamental community in which a Christian must learn and nurture in his or her heart the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23 RSV)
The spiritual growth of every child is best facilitated in a strong, loving, and supportive Christian family.
A Christian family begins with the sacramental marital union of husband and wife. The “principal and ultimate goal [of Christian marriage is] the spiritual and moral perfection of the spouses.” (“The Mystery of Marriage in a Dogmatic Light.” Bishop Artemy Rantosavlievich. Divine Ascent: A Journal of Orthodox Faith. (Vol. 1 Nos. 3/4), 48.)