The following is a transcript of an interview with Ken Lasater, SBTC church ministries associate and the author of the newly released book study titled “Home-Based Student Ministry: Leading a Student Ministry Focused on the Family.”
Published by the SBTC, the study is based on extensive research of parents whose children have been actively involved in church life from youth through young adulthood. Lasater spent 23 years in youth and music ministry before joining the SBTC staff. The book is available at sbtexas.com/hbsm ($14.99 plus $5 shipping).
How did you get involved in tackling the research for this book?
There has been a lack of resources in Southern Baptist life for involving parents in student ministry. It’s been a need for a long time and it’s been on a lot of radars, yet we still lacked a working model for that to take place.
Also, there have been many voices out there questioning the role of the youth minister and even questioning whether or not it’s even biblical. We needed to answer, “If there’s going to be a student minister, what can he do?” And then, “what might that ministry look like?”
Several studies show that about 70-80 percent of students are not attending church after high school?at least for a few years. How much did that trend influence the writing of this resource?
It really didn’t help form this material. But what the statistics caused was a question as to whether the youth minister role is valid or not. It was because of these statistics and the decline in baptisms that caused a second look at how youth ministry was being administered and the recognition that there were ministry approaches that were not building the church, not reaching students, not hanging on to students. And so the statistics indicated there was a problem.
This material grew out of a completely different perspective. What really began this material was asking the question, “Who really has the answer to these problems? Who can guide us in the right direction?”
What about statistics that show that multiple positive influencers in a student’s life make a difference in whether or not he is a lifelong disciple?
That comes from several studies, and it’s not just students. It also applies to new church members?that they need more than just one or two connection points. They need to be immersed into a community of believers who are involved in each other’s lives in a positive way.
Who is the book written for?
The book has been mailed to churches for the pastor and the student minister. It provides how-to information for the student ministry leader. This material will show how to implement an effective student ministry that will keep the parents connected and involved. But it also puts the parents back in charge of the discipleship. The student ministry may choose to do a lot of that teaching through Sunday School, discipleship classes and other means, but it does put the strategy in the parents’ hands. It puts the tools in their hands. They are kept abreast of what the studies are going to be so they can discuss that in the home. In a lot of churches it is the pastor who makes the decision on the ministry approach, and so this resource is for the pastor as well.
What did you learn in preparing the book?
We didn’t want to ask the general culture about where we are as a church culture. All of the studies had already shown there was a decline in baptisms, that students were failing to stay connected. We didn’t want to find that same information again; we already knew that.
But what we wanted to find out was, who was doing it right? Who was turning the tide? Who has corrected this and who is bringing about the kinds of results we want everybody to have? And so the question was, what are we going to shoot for? And we wanted as the end product students who are connected to the church all through high school, through college and into young adulthood. Students who are prepared to become leaders. Students who are supportive of their church staff. We wanted to find students who want to develop other students who love the Lord and are committed to the Lord. And so we started with those criteria.
These are the kind of students we want to have. And the only place to go to ask the right questions were the parents who had produced those types of children. And so we identified these parents and asked them very pointed questions?27 questions?each with nine possible responses.
We asked them about who is responsible for the spiritual discipline of the student? Who is responsible for the character development of those students? Who is responsible for the biblical instruction, for the biblical worldview? Even questions like who is responsible for your student’s recreation experience in the context of the church setting? The survey really revealed some pretty surprising results.
NEW BRAUNFELS?President Barack Obama earned praised from Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President Richard Land for the example he brings to the White House as a father who stands up for his family. And yet, Obama’s selection of key cabinet leaders devalues the sanctity of human life, diminishes the importance of the traditional family and threatens religious liberty, Land told members of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board April 27.
“It says something important that Barack Obama is demonstrably committed to his family,” Land told the board members gathered for dinner prior to their meeting. As Land reviewed the course of actions taken by Obama in his first 100 days in office, he offered a forecast of what might be expected on the home front.
Regarding charitable giving, Obama’s budget plan reduces the deductibility of contributions by high income earners, with one analysis projecting a reduction of nearly $4 billion a year in charitable giving, he said.
Early indications of Obama’s perspective on the sanctity of life were revealed as he lifted restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, reversed the policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from funding international NGOs that perform or promote abortions, and contributed $50 million to the United Nations Population Fund, supporting China’s coercive population-control policy, Land said.
Land said Obama signaled elimination of conscience protections when he began the process of rescinding regulations protecting health-care workers from being discriminated against for refusing to participate in abortions or other medical procedures that would violate their religious convictions.
Reauthorization to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program lays the foundation for a possible “Trojan Horse” to introduce government takeover of healthcare, Land said. Furthermore, the economic stimulus bill opens the door for socialized medicine, he said, mandating $1 billion to “lay the initial building blocks in the foundation of a national healthcare superstructure that will ration medical care to the sick and the elderly, with government bureaucrats?not doctors?making medical decisions.”
A newly established Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research will evaluate medical treatments and drugs using a model from the British socialized medicine system. Land described comparative effectiveness as a euphemism to either grant or deny health care based on whether it is cost effective or not.
Among the nominations Land found troubling were:
?Deputy Attorney General David Ogden who “pushed repeatedly for a loosening of pornography restrictions” while representing Playboy and Penthouse and considers abortion a fundamental right, having represented Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women and People for the American Way;
?Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, who represented Terri Schiavo’s husband in seeking to remove his severely brain damaged wife from life support;
?Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who vetoed regulations on abortion while serving as Kansas governor, and;
?Assistant Attorney General Dawn Johnson of the Office of Legal Counsel, who directed a pro-abortion lobbying group and described abortion restrictions as tantamount to “involuntary servitude.”
Repeating a warning he issued to an earlier gathering of the Mega Metro Pastors’ Conference in Denver, Land said: “The changes hostile to traditional values we’ve seen thus far and the additional anti-family changes we can expect to come, make it all the more important for Christians to reach beyond the four walls of our churches to be salt and light for the gospel while at the same time raising our voices in support of God-honoring policies in Washington’s corridors of power.”
Urging Southern Baptists to remain steadfast, Land said, “Whether they succeed is dependent on whether they can discourage us from defending our beliefs and engaging the culture.”
He urged leaders to remain committed to allowing God’s Spirit to work to transform families, churches, communities and the culture.
A detailed account of Land’s analysis of the “First 100 Days” is available at the website for Land’s radio broadcast, richardlandlive.com.
The threat of being caught in the crossfire of drug-related violence just inside the Mexican border is enough to make summer mission teams refocus their efforts in safer climes.
And that, some say, is not a bad thing.
Violence between the drug cartels vying for control of regions throughout Mexico and between the cartels and the Mexican Army compounded with the swine flu scare was enough to make any casual visitor cancel plans to the troubled nation. But for the individual or group who believes they are called by God to go, backing out is tantamount to lacking faith.
Pastors along the border and IMB missionaries within the country have said the way missions have been done in Mexico needs to be reworked to equip Mexican believers to carry on.
For years missions teams, predominantly Baptist, have sent buses and van loads of enthusiastic teenagers and their adult chaperones to the border for Vacation Bible School, building projects, clothes and gospel tract dissemination, medical aid, and a host of services intended to meet the perceived physical needs of the residents.
MEET SPIRITUAL NEEDS TOO
Douglas Cantu (a pseudonym), an IMB missionary, urged mission teams to not be so overwhelmed by the physical needs of the people that they lose sight of the spiritual needs.
“We’re going to help those poor people down there,” Cantu said, giving an example of what is often the mind-set of relatively wealthy Americans. American Christians need to partner with their brothers and sisters in Mexico and not patronize them. That, Cantu said, is a foundational element of mission work in Mexico and one that has been forgotten.
“We take all our money down there and we ‘bless’ the people,” said Mike Due, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Port Arthur.
Tiffany Smith, SBTC missions mobilization associate, said, “[Americans] don’t feel like we’ve done missions unless we’ve built something.”
She was quick to add that God can and does bless the efforts of those who work in God’s name for the Mexicans, but what is more profoundly needed are long-term commitments by churches in the U.S. to partner with churches in Mexico to help them be witnesses in their communities with or without a team of Americans.
Otherwise, she said, Mexico ends up with churches that cannot stand the test of time and the gunfire of drug lords.
Scottie Stice, former IMB missionary to El Salvador and an SBTC field ministry strategist, said if American churches weren’t willing to make changes on their own, the situation in Mexico is forcing the issue.
He said, “With the drug violence and now the flu, it doesn’t change what God will do but makes us change the way we do things. And that has been overdue for a while.”
He said missions to Mexico need to be redefined in the simplest of terms?”Go and make disciples.”