"Singing our way to hell" : WELS Youth Night

The WELS is neither careful nor discerning in its introduction of Evangelical songs into our hymnal. 

The WELS is introducing "WELS Youth Night" a quarterly event to gather the youth within a circuit for fellowship. They provide resources for devotionals and activities, along with a "suggested song list." Check the list below. All but three are licensed by Getty, two are contemporary and licensed elsewhere, the final hymn is an Anglican hymn. If we were filling in the matrix above, we'd have 11 hymns in the lower-left and one hymn in the lower-right, if we make the most generous allowances for "Before the Throne of God above." It did not appear in the previous hymnal or TLH. 

The WELS is reinforcing the thought that the youth need something different, new and special to bring them closer to Christ. This is flawed for a number of reasons. First, "teenager" as a distinction is a mid-20th-century invention. Second we know that God works through means - the word and sacraments - and we don't need to sex it up for the youth. Third, by giving them something different, new and special in isolation, they come to church and find something different. Imagine going to the friends' house where you always get junk food and coming home to pot roast and potatoes - disappointment, ableit misplaced. Finally, you are separating the youth from the congregation. The old songs their parents and grandparents sing aren't being reinforced, they are given a different dispensation of hymnody. They lose a touchpoint with their elders. As a mid-career adult they will work and worship with people twice their age and half their age. Why do we silo them as teenagers into a slice of contemporaries no more than five or six years apart? Thank God our doctrine of election reminds us that none can snatch any out of his hand. However that doesn't absolve us of placing road blocks in their path.

The WELS will find out the hard way that being knockoff american evangelicals is not a winning strategy. You will lose the faithful Lutherans and the 'youth' will discover how much better the megachurches do it.

(The title is a homage to the Magpies, Singing Our Way to Hell, Part One and Part Two)