So We Shouldn’t Be Students?

I received the current issue of Group magazine a couple of weeks ago and was immediately intrigued by one of the headlines on the front cover. It read “Don’t Call ‘Em Students.” I wondered what this could possibly mean, so I flipped it open with much intrigue (due in large part to the fact that in our ministry we are changing the culture away from “Youth” ministry language toward “Student” ministry language… and my degree is in Student Ministries). Normally I value Group as a great resource to those of us in full-time ministry, but in this instance I have to say that I was quite disappointed by what I read.

Before I go on any further, hop on over to the article (it’s a pretty quick read. It should take you 5 minutes) here.

The author (Christian Smith) boils his argument against using the word students to apply to teens in a “Youth Ministry” setting down into three points. He believes that it is incorrect and damaging because

  • Not all teenagers are students, in fact many are dropouts or home-schooled
  • It singles out teens from the rest of the church
  • Using student lingo allows the culture to shape and form the church’s ministry and how the church thinks of teens

I disagree completely. Well, almost completely. Smith makes a case for multi-generational incorporation within church ministry, and I agree that this is the best direction. But to get there in the way that Smith wants to put across, we would almost need to shut down any age-specific ministry altogether. I want to take the next couple of posts to respond to these three bullet points. So take some time and read the article, then check back here for my thoughts/rebuttals/rants/answers/questions. It’s bound to be at the very least interesting.

Other Posts in this series: