Sex is, frequently, the very last and most infrequent thing discussed in church and is often left to secular venues: the school, the social services office, the clinic. As a result, secular teaching seems more reasonable than the largely non-existent and often incorrect spiritual teaching. Kids come to view God's opinion on such matters as antiquated or irrelevant, and most parents are just out there kind of winging it: reading nothing, studying nothing, taking no courses on parenting, just kind of reacting to whatever curve life throws them as they're dragged by the heels through the winding turns a child’s life can take. Our kids are getting all their info, raw and untainted, from the street and from each other. The black church is losing families by the millions because our kids, frankly, stop coming to our irrelevant Houses of Ignorance and Denial as soon as they are old enough to make that choice. Meanwhile, pre-teens as young as twelve and under are left, by insipidly stupid mommies, parked in front of TVs watching Jay-Z grope Beyoncé. This is an epic and tragic failure on the part of our churches. Real youth ministry requires courage.
Bottom line: most pastors I know are terrified of losing their jobs.
A pastor losing his job often means he has to go back to being the
assistant manager at Walmart or wherever he used to work before he
became "a pastor." For far too many pastors I personally know,
the pastorate is a kind of permanent retirement: he works a few days a
week, he's on the golf course a few days a week, he never uses an
alarm clock. He hands off most of his pastoral care to his staff, his
members wait weeks to get an appointment with him. I know many
pastors who are constantly looking for a bigger church and better
opportunity to make more money, but the majority of pastors I know
are happy and content to do nothing; to tread water there on that
corner where their run-down church is located and collect their
weekly check. Any actual ministry, any work that actually makes a
difference in peoples' lives, puts the church and, therefore, the
pastor's check, in jeopardy. Therefore, actual ministry is always
handled cautiously and with a great deal of discussion and alleged
prayer, "Well, let me pray about it and get back to you," because
most pastors I know are simply cowards who cannot afford to lose even a single
In our culture, effective teen ministry begins and ends with the Mommies, often the Single Mommies. Most Dads I've met have trusted me to lead and guide and teach, while most Mommies have been irrationally suspicious of my motives for desiring to be close to their child, male or female. Their fear is likely borne out of their personal experience as teens, possibly with deacons and pastors, but precious few of these Mommies will actually share that. They, instead, simply become irrationally and unreasonably hostile toward male authority figures within the church. A pastor correcting a child is often received as a rebuke of Mommy; she makes it about herself, the pastor now questioning her parenting which, to my many years of experience, is typically pretty awful for reasons I'll go into, here.
Mommy herself is often the roadblock to any effective ministry to her children because she goes postal and gets all up in the pastor's face and the pastor puts a swift and immediate end to any effective ministry because he is afraid of losing even a single tithes-paying member. Pastor will tell you his concern is for the church, but that's bull; his concern is for his paycheck and the looming specter of Walmart. Many of these guys talk a good game but few are willing to place their churches, and therefore themselves, at any risk at all. They will trade in the health and well-being of kids and teens in a heartbeat, turning deaf ears and blind eyes to the holocaust of apostasy overtaking today's youth. Mommy is protecting her ego, herself, the pastor is protecting his paycheck. Nobody in this equation is actually putting kids first. As a result, this is how our children, in our churches, preteens and even younger, are learning about sex:
“Wide receiver weezy throw da p-ssy at me. Ya p-ssy lips smilin' I make da p-ssy happy. Take your panties off, the p-ssy lookin at me.” —Lil’ Wayne
“Shut up slut, you're causing too much chaos. Just bend over and take it like a slut, OK Ma? 'Oh, now he's raping his own mother, abusing a whore, snorting coke, and we gave him the Rolling Stone cover?'” —Eminem Kill You
“Skeet skeet all up your in your face girl now open your mouth and tell me how I taste, girl. Peaches and cream drippin down our waste girl. Now give it to me. I don't like fake girls she'll be my f--k affairrrrr skeet skeet up in her hairrrrrr. Babyyyy don't be so scaredddd I got a 12 incherrrrr” —Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz Get Low
Many single mommies are stuck in a war zone. Many single mommies became single mommies in their teen years and fear their child will make the same mistakes. So they go out of their way to try and outsmart the child or block the child, but they are playing a reactive game, one bound to fail. Their overly-emotional and over-protective scrambles only push the kids into making precisely the same mistakes they themselves made, the example they themselves set. Any kid who can count can figure out how old mommy was when she got pregnant.
Many single mommies have had bad relationships with men. They can often transfer that bitterness to the child, painting all boys as selfish and evil, and seeming so embittered by life that the child simply wants no part of Mommy’s issues. In an effort to further separate themselves from Nutty Single Mommy, the child will often do the exact opposite, making himself or herself emotionally or physically available in an unhealthy and unsafe way.
Single Mommies are often lonely. The child then becomes a surrogate companion, the only person they have a close and intimate trust with. Many Single Mommies have dedicated their entire lives solely and completely to raising baby and have absolutely no clue what to do with themselves once the kids grow up and move out. The normal and expected rebellious period following the child’s emotional awakening, therefore, becomes threatening to Single Mommy, who confuses her own needs with that of her child. The child has been for so many years, like luggage. Has been Mommy’s Property. Mommy has relied on the child, fed off of the child, when the natural order of things is the exact opposite. Mommy needs the child because Mommy herself is needy. Thus, Mommy experiences rejection by the natural process of the child's pulling away. Mommy is simply not emotionally prepared to deal with being on her own, with facing life on its own terms. Therefore, Mommy becomes the hysterical nut job; professing to protect the child, she’s really being quite selfish, lashing out out of her own fear of loneliness and abandonment.
So, real youth ministry requires courage. Courage of convictions. And smarts. Dr. Phil-level smarts. You’ve got to out-smart these people—not the kids, the Mommies. Too many black churches are still organized around principles set forth in 1965 Sunday School programs. The curriculum is set up to deal with the kids, and assumes the full cooperation of parents who can and often are contentious and difficult people to work with. Any youth program that does not factor in ministering to and dealing with the Mommies is a fatally flawed one. One hysterical Mommy can crash your entire deal.
At a local church, here, I came under fire by one Mommy because I insisted her daughters each read their own scripture lesson. What was happening was, one week Daughter A would read it, one week Daughter B would read it, and they would alternately copy each other’s work. I explained to Mommy the whole point of the scripture lesson was to introduce the Bible to the children and get them to read the bible independently. Mommy let me have it, lashing out at me and making a case that the girls already had enough homework and soccer practice and dance lessons and all of that. To which I suggested that, without Christ in their lives, the homework and soccer practice and dance lessons meant nothing at all. And asking the girls to read two (2) chapters of the Bible per week (not per night!) and answering five questions was no burden on them.
Mommy went postal. Went to the pastor, who backed me up, which only made her more furious. The girls, taking their cue from Mommy, simply stopped doing the homework at all, and I had no way to enforce discipline because Mommy would tell the girls what a jerk I was on the drive home. All of which struck me as an incredibly outsized over-reaction on Mommy’s part. That her anger had nothing to do with the girls reading or not reading the Bible. Had nothing even to do with me, specifically. It was whatever baggage she’s been carrying around, whatever hurt left unhealed in her life. My only avenue to Mommy was other women, as no man, not even the pastor, could have a civil conversation with her.