Theologically trash talking among other trained youth pastors can be fun, but one needs to be careful and mindful. It doesn’t matter if a youth pastor is a fundamentalist, hippie, Pentecostal, legalistic, compromisers, sinner, left wing liberal, tattoo artist, and/or religious; you are going to get doctrinally attacked at some point in your youth ministry career.
Some youth pastors (I call them doctrine dogs) love taking this verse: “Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the doctrine, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” to literally by rebuking everyone and their mom who disagrees with their doctrine paradigm.
I agree there are some crazy and wacky doctrines out there that need to be corrected because they are not about Jesus. Youth pastors need to contend (Jude 3) for the essential doctrines of the Christian faith and contextualize (1 Cor 9) truth by many means as possible. The problem is some youth pastors enjoy only contending for the Christian faith, which means they are mean spirited, legalistic, fundamentalist, religious people who only define themselves by what they are against.
Personally, I think the best way to go is being theologically conservative and socially liberal.
My point: It is not a bad thing to hold closely your life and doctrine (1 Tim 4.16), but one doesn’t need to be so eager to correct “doctrine”. Jesus biggest concerns are: 1. Love God and 2. Love people.
So how do youth pastors handle themselves when they get doctrinally corrected?
1. Affirm one or two points in their theological argument
It does not matter if your opponent is dead wrong, there always a learning moment in any argument. Learn from everyone, but have the discern what to take from the conversation.
2. Have a theological position, but don’t alienate yourself
Be passionate, but don’t let your passion turn into anger. Anger leaves you isolated and removed. Communicate in a rational and calm way while still showing your passion for why you believe what you believe.
3. Be Confident and Considerate
Use sources and make sure you have done your homework. There might be a slim chance you are wrong, so be open for correction. Be prepared to give a response, but do it gently (1 Peter 3.15). If you are frustrated, consider it a “sanctification moment”. Humility needs to be presence in a “sanctification moment”. It is about becoming more like Jesus, not like the Pharisees. Sometimes it is more about being right, than it is “correcting doctrine”.
4. Do Not Attack Their Persona
It is so much easier to start making fun of someone’s hair, than it is to prove them wrong. I am notorious for this. Deal with the content at hand, not their character or fashion style. Shy away from sarcasm and blow the belt jabs.
5. Refer To Theological Experts That Agree With Your Position
By referring to the experts not only shows you have read what other intelligent Bible scholars have said about the doctrine, but illustrates to the other party there are other theological views he/she needs to consider and be aware of.
Bottom line: Stay Gospel centered, don’t compromise, and don’t let the doctrinal police bum you out.