Ingrid Schlueter at the blog Slice of Laodicea reveals the dark underbelly of contemporary youth ministry that seems particularly prevalent in the mega-church mentality of today:
The old Romans had a Latin phrase, panem et circenses (literally, bread and circuses) that was used to describe a decadent citizenry that could be pacified with free food and circuses. Today, much of youth ministry consists of bread and circuses handed out by youth leaders eager for
Schlueter goes on to describe a literal "traveling circus" extreme sports youth event dubbed The Freedom Experience that promises "freedom from sin, freedom from darkness, and freedom in Jesus." Here is a consumer culture-driven orgy of distraction that will supposedly bring kids to Christ through a 2-3 day event of "dramatic stunts, amazing illusions, loud music, exciting school assemblies, and death-defying escapes"! Check out the promo videos here and here if you don't believe me. Pay particular attention to what the teens say as opposed to the adults interviewed.
Schlueter goes on to lament that:
The bread and circuses will only have to get bigger and better to draw the kids. You can hear the youth leader [in the video] say that pizza at church doesn't cut it any more. I have news for him. Pizza at church never did cut it when it came to the teaching and preaching of the Word, which is the only thing God has ever promised to bless.
(Bonus points if you have any idea what the above photo has to do with this entry!)