Our “Family-Oriented” Youth Group!

For years I’ve been afraid of youth group. That was ok, because for years I didn’t have any children old enough to attend so it was a non-issue! However, I knew that when my children became old enough, they’d not participate. Why? Because I’ve read the books and articles and know the arguments against youth meetings which include:

Parents are to be the primary spiritual teachers for their children.

Youth leaders are generally young and inexperienced and male… not good for our daughters.

Putting teens in youth can set them up for boy/girl relationships.

Our kids aren’t youth. They are young adults. We don’t need to put them in a group that encourages foolishness.

Age-segregated meetings divide the family and take away time we can be discipling our own children.

The entertainment focus of youth creates selfishness.

The purpose of youth group is to reach unsaved kids. Our teens know Jesus. They don’t need it.

All of the above can be true. I’ve been in youth groups (a long time ago!) characterized by entertainment, relationships, and foolishness. I’ve seen youth pastors behave inappropriately. I’ve seen teens look anywhere but to their parents for spiritual guidance.

Youth having a great time with young children at our first VBS.. such a sweet time!

However, might I say that all youth groups aren’t the same? If I were in a church characterized by the above, I’d wonder about the discipling happening in homes of the youth. I not only wouldn’t have my children in the youth group, but I may be looking elsewhere for a church!

My husband and I carried on “not doing youth” until last year when our sweet daughter, who had had a difficult year with leg surgery taking her out of several extra-curricular activities, approached us and asked, “Mom and Dad, Would you consider letting me be a part of the youth group? I know you don’t want to do that, but I’d really like to. ” After talking with her, we could see that her motives were to grow in the Lord, develop closer relationships with her girlfriends, and have opportunities to serve. We’ve always loved our youth pastor. Never, ever have we not trusted him. Our reasons for not participating were fears of other kids’ influences and busy-ness. After praying about it, we felt we should let our daughter attend.

What a blessing her involvement in youth was for her and for us! So often, as Daniel led our family devotions, she contributed wisdom she learned from Pastor Scott’s teachings. We were all blessed by her! We also began to see her truly working on some weaknesses that we’d been praying about for a very long time. Her relationships with her siblings and girlfriends and especially us (her parents!) took on a maturity not present before.

Tonight we went to a youth vision meeting and Daniel and I were so inspired. Tonight we heard the following…

Parents are the most important spiritual teachers. Period. Then we were inspired by a dad who mentored his sons by weekly Bible study/breakfast dates with other fathers and sons for years!

It is the desire of our youth pastor to see young teens develop into mature, godly adults. He stated, “I do not want your son/daughter to stay 13.”

Entertainment doesn’t align with the vision for our youth to obtain spiritual maturity. While the teens will have fun, the worship and teaching are the focal points of the meetings. There are also many service and mission opportunities.

Results of a survey taken by youth members were shared. The questions all involved the discipleship that occurs within their homes: how often parents pray with teens, have devotions, resolve conflict Biblically, etc. Parents then were given tips on how to “preach the gospel” to their children daily – through praying, conflict resolution, etc.

Parents were encouraged to lead or host small group Bible studies for girls or guys (same sex).

Parents were encouraged to set aside at least one night of the week for a family prayer time. “You may get blank stares, ” Pastor Scott said, “and if you do, just do it again the next week!”

Families were encouraged to worship together in church.

I haven’t been as inspired to continue “keeping on” loving, teaching and discipling my teens as I was tonight ever – not even during my favorite weekend of the year at our state homeschooling conference! I need that! When my children were small, I had such great ideas and was always eager to try something new to teach and encourage them. While I love my children now more than ever, that enthusiasm isn’t what it used to be. I’ll admit that I get tired and weary! Having a youth ministry that considers its purpose to come alongside parents to encourage discipleship is what I call a “family-oriented” youth group!

This year I have four children in our wonderful youth ministry. I am blessed. They are blessed. I’m thankful, and on the way home from the vision meeting tonight I heard a little voice in the back of the van that said, “I think Wednesday is going to be my favorite school- day of the week.”

I agree! Mine too!

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4 Responses to “Our “Family-Oriented” Youth Group!”

  1. Libby Dowell Says:

    Tina, I love this blog. I, too, appreciate that Scott’s focus is not “entertaining” my children, but rather challenging them in their faith and cementing the truths that they have heard from Tim and I, their grandparents, and their teachers (when they were in Christian school). We are very blessed to have a family focused youth group.

  2. Janet Wylie Says:

    If we were still in Boone, we’d definitely be a part of the youth group at Alliance. What a blessing!

  3. Christina Says:

    Tina,

    I don’t know you but referenced your blog off of a response you left on a post of Mark Driscoll’s. Loved this post. I have little ones yet and am not in the “youth group” world but agree fully in parents having the primary responsibility in raising their children. I think it’s awesome that you have a youth minister that is supportive of that and is in a place that he points the children back to family, that you open your homes as families to let others in, and that ministry is walked together in this area. What a blessing. I pray this for more churches!

  4. Tina Says:

    Christina, Thank you so much for stopping by! I pray this for more churches too which is why I left a comment after Mark’s post. A youth ministry can be a tremendous blessing for the body of Christ. I’m saddened that many are not.

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