Tozer on the Holy Spirit and Entertaining Teenagers at Church

In A.W. Tozer’s book, Alive in the Spirit (a series of Tozer’s sermons on the Holy Spirit, compiled and edited by James L. Snyder, a Tozer expert), he writes a very poignant and prophetic evaluation of the Evangelical Church of his time. He writes of the Church’s woeful dismissal of the Holy Spirit in ministry, in favor of the world’s methods to entertain and increase numbers. Though writing in 1960, Tozer’s words are chillingly relevant for today, especially when it comes to Youth Ministries today:

“I know there is pressure to win people and fill our churches today. We look to the world to see how they are filling up stadiums, concert halls, and theaters, and we are trying to adapt their methods to accomplish our goals. Friends, the two do not mix.

Then, when we get these people in the church by using the world’s methods, we need to continue using the world’s methods to keep them. The church with the latest method is the church with the largest crowd. We have trained this generation of Christians to follow the method instead of following Christ.

Today’s generation has become addicted to entertainment, and this spiritual virus has seeped into the church. If the only way we can get people is if we entertain them, the only way we can keep people is if we continue entertaining them with the newest and most popular form of entertainment. People do not come to church anymore because Jesus Christ is glorified; they come to church because that is where they can be entertained and feel good about themselves.

We need to understand that the methods of the world cannot be used to accomplish the goals of God. We need to turn our back on the world completely and finally. We are not of the world and therefore we need to leave the world behind us and concentrate on the Lord Jesus Christ. The focus of the Holy Spirit will always be on Christ. Whatever is not focused on Christ is not the work of the Holy Spirit.”

(Alive in the Spirit, 44)

A.W. Tozer. Alive in the Spirit. Compiled and edited by James L. Snyder. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

Clark is the Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church SF, and has served in Youth Ministry in the Asian-American context for over a decade. He received his M.Div. from Talbot Theological School in Southern California, and is a Doctor of Missiology (D.Miss) candidate at Southern Seminary (SBTS). He is also an emeritus member of Rooted’s Steering Committee. He and his wife, Janet, have two daughters, Kara and Nora.

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