I’m taking this course with the EPC about Youth Ministry. For this course we are reading a book called Starting Right. The chapter “Theological Framework for Youth Ministry: Repentance” by Robin Maas uses clever but chilling analyses that I will share.
First, Maas re-tells the story of the Pied Piper. In the story, there are so many rats in the town of Hamelin that the mayor promises to pay a Pied Piper 1,000 guilders if he will play music to charm the rats out of town. After the Piper fulfills his end of the bargain, the town reneges and only pays him 50 guilders. In response, the Piper plays to entertain the children and leads them out of town with promises of magic and delight, but he only leads them to their doom and only one child returns to tell the tale.
Then, the author asks us youth ministers, “Are you a piper or a prophet?” We are tempted to have games, fun, and happy messages that will make kids and parents happy, yet the kids learn nothing about theology or about holiness, and their souls are not saved. However, there is a biblical example of a man who was every bit as alluring as the Pied Piper, but he only led people to the truth: John the Baptist.
He lived in the desert, ate only bugs and honey, never combed his hair, and wore camel skins. He probably smelled terrible. But people flocked to him to get baptized in the middle of nowhere because he called them to repent. These people wanted freedom from the Roman occupation, and John offered them a hope for the soon-coming Messiah who would free them from their sins. Later, the Messiah came to him and he revealed him to the crowds.
The difference between the Piper and the Prophet is only one thing: ministry that draws people to a certain leader versus ministry that points people to Jesus. Is my ministry self-centered, or do I care more about teaching Jesus? This same applies to all people, especially to those raising kids. Are you going to let the kids do whatever they want, or will they have higher expectations to want to be more like Jesus even if it means being less popular? The correct answer is only possible if we keep looking to Jesus and showing our kids how to get to him.