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Youth ministry requires the Bible, Holland says during Emphasis Week
March 07, 2005
By Philip Martin

Rick Holland greets students after his Boyce chapel address Feb. 9. In his address the night before Holland emphasized the place of the Scriptures in all ministry, especially youth ministry. Photo by David Merrifield

In 1961, Daniel Boorstin wrote a book entitled The Image, where he noted a cultural shift of icons from heroes to celebrities.

Forty-two years later, contemporary youth ministry is experiencing this same unfortunate shift, Rick Holland said Feb. 8 at Boyce College as part of the 2005 Youth Ministry Emphasis Week. Holland called for a new vision in youth ministry that would reverse these contemporary trends and institute a more Bible-based youth ministry.

"Nowhere is this shift more epic than in youth ministry," he said. "In an arena where heroes are needed, [we need] people who can be looked up to and respected for being above reproach [and] being honorable before the Lord."

Holland is director of student ministries and college pastor at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., where John MacArthur is pastor. Holland also serves as adjunct professor of youth ministries at The Master's College and as a faculty associate in homiletics at The Master's Seminary. His experience in youth ministry includes 22 years of service.

Youth Ministry Emphasis Week, held annually on the Louisville, Ky., campus and hosted by the college's International Center for Youth Ministry (CYM), dealt with the topic "Training the Next Generation: Teaching that Transforms." In addition to the student attendees, the event assembled 55 youth leaders, who also gathered for a meeting of the CYM advisory board. The conference itself featured 32 different classroom presentations by guest youth pastors.

In his address, Holland said that today's youth ministry often stresses celebrity over substance. Holland claimed that much contemporary youth ministry and its ideals jettison scriptural authority.

If the Scriptures are the authority for the church, then it must also be taught to everyone in the church and must be the basis for every ministry in the church, Holland said. The Bible is rated "G" for everyone in the church, he said.

"We [youth ministers] tend to think that we are the only one's who have the Bible," he said. "We interpret it for them [youth] and [think that] they can't really handle the Bible."

He said that whatever a youth pastor uses to draw a student into their ministry is exactly what they will need to use to keep the student there. If it is games and skits, the pastor will have to exhaust their supplies on getting bigger and better skits and games. However, if it is the Scripture, then there will be no need to get bigger, because there will be no exhaustion of supplies.

"All the trends that are going away from biblical youth ministry can be corrected by the preaching of the Word of God, expository preaching," Holland said.

He said it is easy for current students to say "Amen" to this statement, but once a person is in the ministry five years down the road, the youth minister will face temptations to compromise. It is easy then turn from the preaching of the Gospel message and turn to games, skits and "next-thingism."

Throughout his lecture, Holland said youth ministers need to bring their youth ministries back to the Bible. He applauded Boyce College for challenging the contemporary climate with a Bible-based youth ministry program.

"I praise God for the program here at Boyce that is going counterculture to what is happening in youth ministry today," Holland said.

This year's Youth Ministry Emphasis Week was noteworthy in that it featured a youth missions emphasis, said Troy Temple, associate director of the Internation Center for Youth Ministry.

"This year was a special year as the CYM brought in two individuals from Kiev, Ukraine Mike Manna, director of the National Center for Youth Ministry at Kiev Theological Seminary, and Anotoliy Voloshyn, the first youth ministry student in the youth ministry program at KTS. This began an annual focus of Youth Ministry Emphasis Week on youth missions."

Temple added that the week helped to enliven the passion of students at both Boyce College and Southern Seminary to reach adolescents with the Gospel.

"It raises the awareness of both youth ministry in the United States as well as international youth ministry," Temple said.

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