Last year, in June, I criticized the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway Christian Resources over their advertising of a few products. You can read it all here. However, in the interest of fairness, I thought I should share a good thing I saw from them this past week.
Last week I went to M-Fuge, part of the student summer activities Lifeway puts together. It was a well-run camp/mission activity that we'll talk about later. One of the activities was an adult Bible study while the youth had their own Bible studies, and as we were getting ready for this Bible study time, there was always a short video profiling some aspect of Lifeway's student ministries system. (Ok, it was a commercial.)
One of these was for the curriculum directly related to young women. It was a video showing some of the various temptations and issues girls face, and and expressing some of those emotions. It also shared the viewpoint, repeatedly, of "you can't protect me," addressed to both parents and youth leaders.
And when you reach the end of the video, the statement was essentially that you can't protect, but you can prepare, encourage, guide spiritually. And then Lifeway expressed that they can help adults know how to handle being there for teenagers.
This is good. Very good.
Why? A few reasons:
1. Lifeway isn't claiming they can solve all of a student's problems with a book or a class.
2. I took the primary audience for this advertisement as parents, with church ministries as a secondary target. Which is good: parents, especially Christian parents, are responsible for helping their children grow in Christ. The church should help, but one of the dangers we've fallen into is farming out our kids, even to churches. How do we expect church to be more effective than the home? If the home is filled with Believers, then church is a supplement, not the whole meal. Kids whose parents aren't in church is a whole different story. Still, and this is a whole long thought, the ministry to youth and children is a ministry of the church not a small or solo volunteer or a hired gun. Any ministry that separates the church into isolated groups is not building the body of Christ.
3. The point was, to me, clear: no one program is the solution. Individual relationships are the the key. This is a good point for all involved in discipling (which should be all Christians). Relationships are the center: relationship with Christ, with fellow believers, and with those who need to come to Christ.
Anyway, I just wanted to post that bit of positive. Something I've seen in my personality is a tendency to see problems and express that I've seen problems but not to express positives. It's not that the problems aren't there or aren't serious, because they are. We have a lot of issues that we've borrowed into the church that we don't need. Yet I want to do a little better about highlighting the positive.
So, just as I pointed out a missed point, here's a hit mark: literature doesn't solve your problems, but it can help you be able to know how to work through your relationships to build disciples. And that's a good thing.