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Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Monday, October 27, 2003
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Featured: READERS RESPONSES TO "SHOULD YOUTH WORKERS DRINK ALCOHOL?"
By Jonathan McKee
October 27, 2003
If you missed the last EZINE with Jonathan's article answering "SHOULD YOUTH WORKERS DRINK
ALCOHOL?" CLICK HERE http://www.thesource4ym.com/archives/
Wow! Nothing like polarized responses. I might as well have talked about gross games!
We received a ton of responses and I'm going to post some of them below. But first, two
- I encourage you- whenever you see scripture quoted, LOOK UP those verses so you can
read ... (as Paul Harvey says) ... the rest of the story! (I provided the ENTIRE verses in
parenthesis in some instances for your reference, marked by the words "VERSE ALERT")
- Also- I need to clarify my final sentences in the article:
"So the bottom line is ... if you decide not to drink. Good for you. But when others
look at you, do you want them to see a condescending jerk ... or do you want them to see
Christ in you. Your choice."
I received numerous responses, some interpreting it the way I meant, and others interpreting
it at least 3 different ways I never intended. Some thought I was calling drinkers
"condescending jerks." Others thought I called non-drinkers "jerks." Others thought I was
implying something completely different.
Regardless what you believe, here's what I meant by it:
That sentence was immediately after this C.S. Lewis quote: "An individual Christian may
see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reason- marriage, or meat or beer, or
the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking
down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning." (Mere
Christianity, 1952) My closing statement was referring to the person who "looks down his
nose" at others. I basically was saying this:
Whatever you decide - that's your choice. But how we treat others is of the most
importance. Wouldn't it be cool if others saw Christ in us, not US in us, no matter what
opinion we have regarding drinking.
Thank you all who sent in responses to this article. I'm sorry I couldn't post them all - I
tried to include an accurate representation of the ratio of positive/negative and for/against
responses that we received.
Here they are:
I haven't written for awhile, but continue to appreciate your weekly emails as well as your
This email demands a response, however. I want to give you credit for tackling such a slippery
subject! Thank you for taking a stand that isn't wishy washy or caves in to traditional
evangelical thinking. Somehow, I suspect you've received one or two responses to this email!
As a youth leader, church leader, worship team leader and who knows what else, I frequently
consider the impact of alcohol consumption as well. I agree with your position here - that it
is important to consider the perception of others.
I am more concerned however with the true impact of the church - in other words, let's not get
hung up on what constraints we put on each other - rather let's be concerned with how we as
believers show love to each other - and probably more importantly - how we show love to the
world around us.
Too many Christians use behavior (and their behavior list) as a way to judge one another and
put themselves up a rung or two on the ladder. All the while ignoring the guy next door whose
life is in a shambles.
I for one, think it makes more sense to share a beer with my neighbor after helping him dig a
trench in his back yard - giving me an opportunity to build a relationship with him and talking
about his marriage or raising his kids - and now even talking about spiritual things. Would I
get drunk with him? No. But we Christians make way too much out of this subject.
Thanks again for your ministry.
God bless you,
Jonathan, I don't agree with you on that issue. Read Proverbs 20:1, (VERSE ALERT: Wine is a
mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.) and also we are suppose
to be witnesses for Christ and living Bibles, setting examples for other people. So I strongly
Dear Jonathan, Thank you for your perspective on this topic. I am impressed with the way you
explain issues and I believe that the last line could be applied to so many issues of temperance.
Great quote from CS Lewis. My 17 year old son will appreciate that and we will have a good
discussion using this article as a beginning point. Thanks!
Dear Jonathan, I am a Youth pastor in a Southern Baptist church that was called late in life to
full time ministry. Let me tell you your response to "J-Dog" was completely wishy washy. I mean
come on, lets look at the true biblical response to this horrible situation. WE ARE CALLED TO
BE MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST AND WE ARE CALLED TO A HIGHER STANDARDS then the
world. I am called and expected by God and the parents of our students to be a role model for
my students. In my studies of scripture where the use of Alcohol was talked about they were
talking about a drink that was not even close to what we drink today. The solution that they
used was made from a paste of Wine and then it was put in to wine skins and that past was mixed
with three gallons of water. Which would be a drink with an alcohol content of about .78 % this
is much less than the Weakest drink that we have today. For the people of biblical times to drink
a drink with the alcohol content that we have today would be absurd. Ok lets look at Paul telling
timothy to take a little Wine for your stomach. Hello they didn't have tagement any other type
of medications. This is nothing more than another attack by the liberals to say that its ok to
sin as long as no one else gets hurt. In faithful service to him,
Thanks for the courage to tackle a very controversial issue. But what I appreciated the most
was that you stuck with Scripture and didn't quote all of those false assumption that I used to
hear all the time when I was growing up about how the wine of the New Testament was deluded and
mixed with gallons of water. I always use to wonder how the Corinthians were getting drunk at
communion on diluted wine that was mostly water (I Cor. 11:21). Those assumptions remind me of
the statement by Will Rogers, "It's not what we know that is the problem. It's what we know that
ain't so." It is so sad when we try to convince people of our view by quoting assumptions that
just ain't so. Thanks for not taking us down that road.
Dear J-Dog, On the question about "Should Youth Workers Drink?", You gave an answer to someone
that said that it is basically ok to drink but don't drink enough to get drunk. But if we were
to look at what the bible points out about drinking we would find that your answer is completely
wrong. For in Judges 13:4 it states "...and drink not wine or strong drink..." (VERSE ALERT:
Judges 13:3-5 The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless,
but you are going to conceive and have a son.  Now see to it that you drink no wine or other
fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean,  because you will conceive and
give birth to a son...") and in 2 Corinthians 6:17 it also states "Wherefore come out among
them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive
you," (VERSE ALERT: 2 Cor. 6:16-17 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among
them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."  "Therefore come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.") So what I'm
writing about is before you give someone advice on the way they should walk in the Lord and
teach others how to walk maybe it just might be a good idea to go to what the word of the Lord
really says instead of giving them unbelievable opinions.
A Concerned Member,
Jonathan, I was reading your poignant mailing where you said this:
"For that reason, I personally think that drinking wouldn't be a bad thing for youth workers
to avoid. I'm not saying ?it's a bad thing.' I'm just saying that there can be consequences
for drinking ... and there are little consequences if you avoid it all together."
I understand and respect this viewpoint, and I think we need to be especially sensitive to youth
who grow up in families with alcoholics etc. I'm a person who rarely drinks myself-probably only
half a dozen glasses of wine in an entire year! However, I look at it from another angle. Most
likely, they are going to encounter alcohol elsewhere as they are growing up. I think that it
can be a really good thing to help teach the youth how to responsibly deal with alcohol, as in
(1) not drinking till they are of legal age, (2) taking in a drink of wine with a meal, as
opposed to going to a bar just for drinking or using it as an escape etc. We can be role models
in this. I think avoiding it will not help prepare them for real life.....
I think we also run the risk of teaching them legalistic thinking if we avoid it altogether,
which can hurt then spiritually as well as emotionally (I have seen this happen in very strict
churches). I'm just saying that we have to be careful not to encourage legalistic, black and
white thinking on issues where the Bible does not speak in "black and white." I think the Bible's
message on wine is responsibility and wisdom, avoiding drunkenness etc.
God bless you for all the ministry you do with youth, and the heart you put into your work!
Jonathan, Great Points! I agree with what you had to say. I personally do not drink for the
fact of mixed messages that it gives students and their families. I have seem too often the
destructive nature of alcohol and have vowed to not drink, one from my own convictions and the
other for the perception that it does give non/or struggling Christians. Prior to being in the
ministry, I owned a Construction company with around 120+ workers. Being around them every day
motivated me to live a higher standard in the areas of drinking and even language. I realized
years ago what the message of alcohol gives in this world - it isn't Godliness. Thanks for
addressing these issues. Always for Him,
Dear Jonathan, Thanks so much for your response to this question! I thought you put it very well
and it is something my husband and I have to think about from time to time. Although, we drink
pretty rarely (he is a deacon in our Baptist church and I work with the youth and teach Bible
study on Sunday mornings).
But if I were to be seen, by one of my youth, at a public restaurant with a glass of wine, you
are very right -- it would be blown out of proportion and the wrong conclusions would quickly be
I also appreciate your including the thoughts on how we view others that partake of activities
we may not agree as "appropriate" and not letting ourselves be, like you say, condescending
Thanks for all you do and how you do it!
Amy - Nashville TN
Dear Jonathan, The bible says in Proverbs 20:1 "Wine gives false courage; hard liquor leads to
brawls; what fools men are to let it master them, making them reel drunkenly down the street!"
You might say that, you occasionally take a drink with some pizza while watching the football
game, or maybe only when it is available. I honestly don't know your situation but do keep in
mind that, statistically speaking; alcohol is the drug that leads to stronger drugs. It's just
like eating, if one day you ate so much your stomach has expanded therefore the next day you
will eat a bit more. It is just an example but that is the way that it happens with liquor and
other types of drugs.
Now check this out, in Proverbs 23:29,30 it says, "Whose heart is filled with anguish and
sorrow? Who is always fighting and quarreling? Who is the man with bloodshot eyes and many
wounds? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, Trying out new mixtures." This
refers to a person that drinks and drinks wine as an excuse of a relax ant or just an occasional
drink, then you will always be followed by problems.
Thank you for your attention I hope this has been of grate help to your spiritual life.
Jonathan, I appreciated your thoughtful and insightful remarks on this subject. I wanted to
pass on something I heard several years ago on this subject from a young lady by the name of
Lori Salierno. The gist of what she said was: Any good thing that we as a youth leader or
parent do in excess, our kids will do in moderation, and any questionable thing we do in
moderation, our kids will do in excess. Personally, I have never taken a drink because of what
you so clearly pointed out ... the perception that people have of people who drink. In my
opinion, it's just not worth the risk of jeopardizing my ministry or witness.
Dear Jonathan, I appreciated your response to the question about drinking. As a teen, I was
apart from Christ and drank much. After receiving Jesus into my life, I had to decide what to
do about alcohol. Some said any drinking was a sin; others said drinking in moderation was no
problem. As I prayed and sought the Lord's leading, this question came to mind: would
allowing myself to drink in moderation enhance my testimony for Christ or diminish it? It was
clear to me that although drinking in moderation was not particular sinful, in our American
culture ?not drinking' was the better choice. I don't look down on those who disagree, but I'm
glad I made the choice I did. You're absolutely right. Perception is important.
Hey Jon, Interesting article...in the UK you can legally drink (with a meal) from the age of
6 years old. It is interesting to see that my minister (church leader) at certain church
socials like harvest and Christmas he lets his children have a small glass of wine. In fact at
these social events I go around and ask the young people's parents if they can have a glass a
wine and on every occasion the parents say yes. I am there to supervise. I drink.
I just want to say that the Christ that is in me once drank at parties and had a great time
while he was telling stories, pastorally caring for his disciples and sorting out people's
thinking. It's good to know that the Son of the most high God could drink and be an example to
us all! love your work!
Jonathan, I would say it is bad - period. I would also step up or stand up at any chance
that I got and state my position. Students need to know that it's not OK!
Jonathan, I am a youth pastor in Hamilton, New Zealand. New Zealand has a problem - teenage
alcoholism. And if you read the stats, we top the world. (As we do with youth suicide,
cannabis usage and petty crime). Here, the issue isn't that too many people are drunkards,
it's this: New Zealand has such a long history of teen alcoholism that it is expected that
Teenagers and Uni. Students (the drinking age is 18) will spend a time of their life as
habitual binge drinkers. This pattern doesn't continue, it sets in between 17-19 and usually
lasts a couple years. Here is my quandary. I live in a country in which the adults fail to
reprimand the children for their drunkenness. This is because the adults exhibited the same
behavior in there day, and refuse to cast the first stone, for better or worse. "I survived
it, so they will" is the common logic. So here I am, an intermediary, I am not "Adult" and I
am not "Teen" But I speak for both, and live in the gap between the two groups.
If I don't give these kids a good moderate example, who will? If I can have the wisdom of the
parent and the peer respect of the kids, shouldn't I exploit my opportunity to model temperance?
And shouldn't I help these kids understand how to be Christ to their friends who follow so
rigidly the paths of the world?
I have never been drunk. I have enjoyed alcohol the way God intended ... And I shall continue
to do so. Surely we are educators of Children, teachers and guiders.
Seth, New Zealand
That's it - thanks so much for your responses.
Keep up the good work!
President, The Source for Youth Ministry
Jonathan's "Reaching The Unchurched" Training in Cincinnati
Youth Specialties/Zondervan is publishing Jonathan's new book, REACHING UNCHURCHED STUDENTS
(coming in 2004), but don't wait for the book ... get the training now!
If you are in driving distance from Cincinnati, you won't want to miss this!
Tic Long, President of YOUTH SPECIALTIES EVENTS says "We had Jonathan do his REACHING
UNCHURCHED KIDS seminar at our National Youth Workers Convention and he did a great job. Not
only is Jonathan's presentation dynamic, his information was extremely helpful to those in
attendance. In fact, that's why we're publishing his book."
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: December 6th, Jonathan is doing a Saturday workshop (9AM to 3PM) for
youth workers in the city of Cincinnati. If you're a youth worker, barely paid or a volunteer,
this is for you! Here's the details:
WHEN: December 6th, 9AM to 3PM
WHERE: Christ Lutheran Church, 3301 Compton Rd., Cincinnati 45251
COST: Three affordable choices:
$15 a person if the church receives payment by Dec. 1
$20 at the door
ONLY $10 a person group rate (3 or more) if your youth staff pre-register by Dec. 1
TO REGISTER - CONTACT: Carol Arszman at (513) 385-8342
FOR MORE INFO ABOUT THIS TRAINING OR HOW TO BRING IT TO YOUR CITY:
or contact Jonathan at Jon@TheSource4YM.com
by Jonathan McKee
October 27, 2003
Looking for some good ideas to use this week while every body is thinking about Halloween?
Check out last October's EZINE article, bringing you games, ideas, discussion starters, links
to other discussion starters and agendas, and even a talk you can use for this time of year:
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