2 Kings 12:17-21 – OK God! I Get The Message: Building Youth Ministry On Solid Ground

Posted: July 24, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 12:17-21

The End of Joash’s Reign in Judah

One of the great challenges that I am facing in my new church is the re-development and growth of my new church’s youth ministry. I received some great advice yesterday from my former senior pastor at my previous church in Illinois. Before he gave the great advice, he did say that youth ministries go in cycles. He said he has seen the youth ministry at the church he founded almost 25 years ago go through about six cycles of being strong, falling off and then being strong again. So, his first advice was to realize that may be what is happening right now – a down cycle. However, given that, he said when rebuilding a youth ministry, you must never be about numbers. He said that when he first started Calvary Church that his youth ministry was purely about the numbers. He was able to grow it to almost 400 youth at one point and it was like the second largest youth ministry in the country at that time. He said that sadly though it was about bringing kids in and being somehow proud of how many kids that they had on campus on Sunday night. And it was not about developing and discipling the kids. That it was about the show and not the substance. He said youth ministry can so easily be about the fun and not about discipleship.

When it is that way, you must sustain the show and anything showy is not sustainable. It becomes about topping what you have previously done and that is simply not sustainable. What he said that he learned from that experience and subsequent cycles over the past 25 years is that you must disciple the kids. You must develop a solid core and develop the youth ministry slowly. That solid core beginning is ever so important because it is that core group, those kids that you find that are on fire for God (and their whole life shows it) that you build a ministry upon. They are the ones that God has given you to grow your youth ministry. Sure, you want to make youth ministry fun and attractional, but you want to build a solid core of youth that “get it”. He said that you must build that solid core on a solid foundation of biblical teaching and teach the Bible in ways that connect to their everyday lives. Without that solid core built on a solid foundation, youth ministry is like a leaf in the wind. It gets blown by whatever the latest attractional strategies are, gets blown by which church is doing the latest cool things, and ultimately is not about teaching kids how to live life according to God’s will. He said he would rather a youth ministry that is built slowly on a solid foundation that some flashy, fad-driven, attractional style any day – and that is a hard lesson that he has learned over 25 years.

That is the thing that, with God’s help, that I must do with the youth ministry here at my new church – build it solidly on a firm foundation of biblical teaching. Yes, we must engage the community to reclaim kids that have walked away and to introduce our ministry to kids that have never been in our midst before, but it should never come at the cost of sound biblical teaching. Fads, allowing cliques to develop, just doing things because they seem cool or what the latest thing may be is not what we need to do. We must begin with and end with the Bible. Sure, we will need to package the message in ways that are relevant to kids today but the package is not the message. What the intent always should be is to develop young men and women who have a solid faith of their own that can deal with a faith-hostile world when they leave our midst.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through 2 Kings 12:17-21. It is the story of the end of Joash’s reign as king of Judah. His faith was not his own. He followed God as long as the priest Jehoiada was around. As soon as Jehoiada died, Joash followed the beliefs of whomever was surrounding him. We must raise kids in our churches that have their own faith and not simply a reflection of the environment of the church. Let’s read this passage now and see how Joash apparently did not have his own real faith and that it was simply a product of being under the supervision of the priest Jehoiada:

17 About this time King Hazael of Aram went to war against Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem. 18 King Joash collected all the sacred objects that Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, and Ahaziah, the previous kings of Judah, had dedicated, along with what he himself had dedicated. He sent them all to Hazael, along with all the gold in the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace. So Hazael called off his attack on Jerusalem.

19 The rest of the events in Joash’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah.

20 Joash’s officers plotted against him and assassinated him at Beth-millo on the road to Silla. 21 The assassins were Jozacar[a] son of Shimeath and Jehozabad son of Shomer—both trusted advisers. Joash was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then his son Amaziah became the next king.

In this passage, we see, if you read 2 Chronicles 24:17-26 along with this passage, the reasons for the officers’ plot against Joash. Joash had begun to worship idols, had killed the prophet Zechariah, and had been conquered by the Arameans. When Joash turned away from God, his life began to unravel. The officers did not kill him because he had turned from God, they killed him because his kingdom had gone out of control. Though God saved his life and provided all that he needed to reign, and to have a good and godly reign, through the instructions that He has given through Jehoiada. Joash has chosen to reject God and not to follow His ways. His unbelief led him to this end. It wasn’t an end God has in mind; it was an end he has chosen. Joash failed to treasure the privileges God has given him. He did not know God personally. He has no personal faith in God. All we read about is the faith of Jehoiada. All the good that happened, happens only because Jehoiada was around. The moment Jehoiada was removed from the scene, Joash was swayed by whoever filled that gap.

Reading this passage along with my conversation yesterday with my former boss, my former senior pastor at Calvary Church, is one of those things that I call God’s synchronicity. That’s when God gives me the same message from multiple different sources – something I read, something someone said to me, all within a very close time period. That’s when you then OK God, I get it. I get what you are trying to say to me. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed but even I can get it sometimes when you synchronize the same message through multiple sources.

That message is that, with God’s strength and supervision, I must re-develop our youth ministry on a solid core of biblical teaching. I must build it on that first and attractional strategies second. I must be willing to lose kids that who would rather have a good time that hear God’s Word so that I can concentrate on that solid core of kids that want to be challenged by God’s Word. I must not shy away from the realities of God’s Word as it applies to our kids’ lives. I must not allow having fun activities that attract a bunch of kids to overrule the teaching of God’s Word. We must build slowly and solidly. Yes, we must do things to attract kids for sure. Yes, we must do those fun things that allow our young people to invite their friends that are not in church. But it should never be the overriding thing about youth ministry. It is our, it is my responsibility to ensure that our youth are made ready with their own faith.

They must leave our midst and go into the world with a solid faith. They must leave our midst with a faith they can defend. They must leave our midst with a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. They must leave our midst with a faith that allows them to be convicted by the Holy Spirit to be able to withstand the challenges to their faith that inevitable come against them in young adulthood. We want to have young people who do not fall away at the slightest wind of the culture. We must send them out grounded in God’s Word.

Amen and Amen.

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