Okay, let's see if I understand you: It's Sunday morning. You're hip-deep into your fire and brimstone sermon. Every teenager in the joint is either sleeping or talking among themselves. It's Wednesday night. You're finally getting deep into your discussion of Leviticus chapter nine. There are ten people in the sanctuary, not a one of them under thirty-five. It's Friday morning and you're having a wonderful sunrise prayer service. The congregation is in the single digits and not one kid is in sight. I just want to see if I'm getting this right: this is your effective youth program.
As a little boy I spent most of my time over my grandmother’s
house. So much so that I ended up spending more time
with her than I did with my own mom, even into my teen and adult
years. I adored her. Even through rebellious youth I tried to
spend time with her whenever I could. She and my mother had a
falling out when grandma, a Holiness minister, had me
re-baptized in Jesus’ name (as I had been earlier baptized in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost).
Mom didn’t like that and didn’t want me anywhere near “that
woman.” But, see, “that woman” was my grandmother.
And that’s the lesson learned here: be careful who you leave
your kids with.
Today, most of us leave our kids with the television. With the cell phone. With the Internet. With other kids being raised by half-wit, lost mothers who are still kids themselves. Or, worse, who are not being raised at all. Grandma didn't let me watch a lot of TV; made us go outside and play. My values came from her because she spent time to invest those values in me. These days, many parents seem more preoccupied with keeping peace in the home than they are in raising their child. Many of these parents, particularly single mothers who usually get riled up and want to hang me for talking about this, seem more invested in being their child's roommate or buddy or something. You'd never snoop around your roommate's room, you don't tell your roommate to go to church. Mommy: she's not your roommate. She's your kid. Trust is something she must earn, and privacy is something she must pay for. You know when I finally gained complete privacy? When I started paying rent. When I got my own place. Under my mom's roof, I was subject to her law. She didn't need a search warrant to enter my room or GPS to locate me. These days, most teens are a law unto themselves.
My mom was fine as long as she was being a mom.
Where she went wrong was in my teen years when, failing miserably with her
daughter, my mom decided to switch tactics and become my friend.
Which wasn't at all what I needed. I was too stupid (kids being
stupid) to articulate it at the time, but that was the nature of
our differences: she was trying to be my buddy, which was
confusing. I mean, for fifteen years, she'd been my mom. When my
mom got saved, the whole house got saved. There was no question, no discussion. Secular music, no matter how benign,
was simply not allowed, let alone this cussing, fornicating crap
you mommies allow into your homes every day, and then cry to us
about how the devil done took your child.
There's this weird psychosis going on where many of our mommies (1) try to be roommates or buddies with their kids, (2) look to the school system to raise them (thus, instilling secular values in place of spiritual ones) and then (3) either meddle with church youth programs or ignore them. Youth participation in many churches here has fallen off exponentially over the past decade, with many youth either not coming to church at all or crowding the back pews playing handheld video games and text messaging. When I was coming up, if an usher saw you doing something like that, there'd be a belt in it for you.
These days, over-protective mommies guarding Little Precious would sue any church who took their bratty kid out back and walloped him the way he deserves for not having respect for God's house. I had a healthy respect for the ushers and deacons and mothers of the church which was borne out of fear because any one of those people could literally lay hands on me. They were all my mother, they were all my father. Today, kids know none of those people will even say anything to them, let alone hit them. Thus, they have no fear of these people, thus they have no respect for these people. Thus, they have no respect for the church whatsoever, an anachronistic mausoleum that rarely speaks to them at all. Thus, most tragically, they have absolutely no fear of God whatsoever, and thus no moral imperative to seek God's approval and guidance for their conduct.