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Outreach or Pandering?

When I was Boundless editor about eight years ago, my favorite compliment we got came from a secular, liberal-leaning site. They praised us for running thoughtful articles for a young audience instead of making embarrassing efforts to sound young, as many other Christian groups did: We never said things like “Jesus is radical.” In my thank-you note, I promised that we never would. Subsequent editors, happily, shared that philosophy.

Obviously, we believe in outreach here. But there’s outreach and there’s pandering. From youth-group days onward, you’ve probably seen both. Some ministries for the young focus on solid, biblical stuff. Others try so hard to be hip — desperately trying to get young people to like them — that at best they distract from a biblical message, and at worst they replace it with others they presume will be more popular. Still others land somewhere in between.

Where have you seen ministry for the young (anywhere from teens through young adulthood) being done right? Where have you seen it done wrong, and how? No need for names, of course (“Here’s how the church where I grew up, St. Andrews in Searchlight, Nevada, messed up”). Just examples.

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About the Author

Matt Kaufman

Matt Kaufman has been a columnist for Boundless since the site’s founding in 1998, and did a stint as editor in 2002-2003. He’s also a former staffer and current contributing editor for Focus on the Family Citizen magazine. Matt is a freelance writer/editor who spent some years in Colorado, but gave up the mountains for the cornfields: He now lives in his hometown of Urbana, home of the University of Illinois. His house is a five minute drive from the one where he grew up, and he enjoys daily walks around the park where he used to play baseball.

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