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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.

Youth Pastorate 201: Protecting Yourself From the Doctrine Dogs

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.

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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2 comments

  1. You have some solid points here Jeremy. Good post.

    I’ve never been one to care too much about others theology. After all, they have be debating theology for centuries and information hasn’t changed so much that we are going to come to a conclusion today.

    But, as with all things, I have found out that as a Youth Pastor 1. I need to have a theology of my own and be confident in those beliefs. 2. I can learn from anyone and any situation. It’s when we stop learning that we start becoming less effective. And 3. As you said, be gospel centered and not compromise Christ.

  2. Good stuff! “…people who only define themselves by what they’re against” This is so right on! I wonder why some focus so much on how others are “wrong” and less on what they actually affirm. Of course we need to have a spirit that corrects but simply out of love for the Gospel and the person, not to win an argument.

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