Thursday, September 16, 2010

Is youth group the answer?

I am not anti-youth group. Honestly. My church took a different approach with their youth a few years ago. Up to that point, the youth group was ages 13-40. We would have a weekly service in the main sanctuary, which anyone could attend, and then monthly we would have an outside activity for the teens, and every 2 months or so, something for the younger married couples or singles my age.

Then some people decided that needed changed. They put the teens through age 22 or so downstairs in a cramped room. They made a Bible study for everyone else in the sanctuary. The new group is called "youth focus"...... and focus is exactly what it is. It seems to someone like me who was away and moved back, that that is all the church cares about - the youth. And yes, they are important, but what about the rest of us? Outside of making me feel that way, I have  another issue with it. One of the reasons put forth by the supporters of it was that we are losing too many of our youth and the church needs to do more. My dad got up at that point and said people need to quit blaming the church. That the parents are at fault, not the church. His remarks were not met with much reception, but I think he is right. You can't just dump your kids in a youth group and expect them to sail into heaven. The parents need to do more. Show a better example, be more careful who their kids hang out with, what their kids see and are exposed to.

A friend of mine sent me the following email after seeing the movie "To Save A Life". Names have been changed to protect the innocent. :-)

"it saddened me because it is NORMAL in this day and age for 1 out of every 10 or so kids or even less... I don't know the statistics... has to deal with that kind of a life.

I experienced it in the church I attended b/c of the Youth Group. Even as a teenager I knew that it would hurt our little Independent Baptist church.

I voiced my opinion and the Youth leader (who was barely over his teens himself) acted like I was an idiot.

He took us out of Wednesday service downstairs to play stupid, childish games instead of getting real spiritual nourishment. Honestly, I probably should have just stayed upstairs and listened to our wise pastor.

Yeah our youth group grew in numbers (because of the "fun"), but it also went downhill morally. I struggled too after awhile.

Youth group (at least the way most churches do it) really isn't the answer in my honest opinion. Young people need the love and nurturing of their parents. And pastors need to be teaching FATHERS how to disciple their own children instead of parents turning their parenting over to the church. It doesn't work and it's unbiblical. Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

John Smith, (who teaches our teen SS class) was talking about doing outings with the teenagers and said he needed chaperones. I said, "That would be great if the parents could come too." His response was, " I doubt if any of the parents would want to come." To me that was discouraging!

My thing is that families should be building relationships so close that teenagers love their parents instead of wanting to be away from them.

It is sad that it doesn't happen this way. If parents knew what was going on and LISTENED to their children, these problems would virtually disappear.

I think about the Johnsons.... they are prime examples of close relationships with their children. I want to be like that.

O.k,. Off the soapbox and back to work. :-)"

I think she raised some good points. Yes, we need something for our youth, but it DOES need to be more than fun and games, and sometimes it is just a place for bad influence. What IS the answer? I think parents do need to be more involved. Not with just their kids, but with the youth group. Go to it occasionally, see what is going on, who your kids are hanging out with. We get one chance with raising kids in this life, we can't just throw the responsibility off on the church and youth group. Step up to the plate and take charge.


Rachel said...

Not only do parents need to be the ones teaching their kids spiritual truths, but if there is a youth pastor in place, there needs to be accountability for that person. We have our own "horror" story with youth group for our kids, but thank the Lord for the strength it's given our kids spiritually. Not to toot our own horn, but had we not been involved, the ending wouldn't be being quite as good as it is. Good thoughts, Mark!