Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders Ministry Lessons From the Deconstruction of YouTubers Rhett and Link

Ministry Lessons From the Deconstruction of YouTubers Rhett and Link

Link discusses his frustrations with growing up in a legalistic and fear-based local church. He ends episode 227 with hurt and frustration over his desire to support LGBTQ marriage and relationships in conflict with the orthodox Christian view of human sexuality as defined in the Bible. In their deconstruction stories, hurt, anger, fear, anxiety and emotional discomfort are evident.

So what does this mean for youth ministry leaders? People often leave the faith not for rational reasons but for volitional or emotional reasons. This may be because the church has hurt them (such as through legalism) or because they’re uncomfortable with a biblical worldview (such as the sanctity of human life).

A hurt person may look for “evidence” to support deconstruction or even use “absolute certainty” as a way out of their confusion. But a highly relational church can relationally pursue and love young people, invite them into conversation to equip them with knowledge, and close the gap on pain.

4. Conversation is essential.

The comments about Rhett’s faith deconstruction were chilling. Coming from a relatively young audience, they represented nearly complete affirmation. And don’t forget, many are current and former church kids.

The greater context of the cultural challenge we face is this:

  • A Barna group study in 2018 showed that only 68 percent of Protestant youth pastors were comfortable talking about the origins of the Bible and historical evidence. Only 48 percent felt comfortable talking about science and the Bible.
  • Unfortunately, many adults fear this type of experience with teens. In the Barna Group’s research on Gen Z, they say, “It’s important for pastors, leaders and parents to be prepared to discuss the real issues of the Christian faith, historical evidence, origins of the Bible, science, and inter-faith dialogue. This is the ‘acid-test’ for real belief in the next generation.”
  • In Kara Powell and Chap Clark’s Sticky Faith research, they discovered that only about 12 percent of youth have regular dialogue with parents on spiritual issues. 

 A Different Kind of Disciple-Making

A few decades ago, if youth pastors could be engaging Bible teachers and throw a good pizza party, they were atop their game. Today, with increased access to information and the onslaught of secularism, ministry leaders can’t just be Bible teachers. They also must guide teens and families through issues relating to science, sexuality, textual criticism, the digital disruption, apologetics and more.

We need a new kind of discipleship. It must intentionally elevate belonging, relationships and conversation. Navigating these shifting landscapes is difficult for the most seasoned of Christ-followers—even much more so for today’s children and students. So how long will we continue to do youth ministry as if nothing has changed?