What do youth groups need?

What do you guys think youth groups need today? What things are we missing or overlooking? How have you seen youth groups flourish and grow in the Lord? If you have any specific and practical examples please share them

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Hi Sadie,

As a high school senior yourself, I would love to know what you think youth groups need. Maybe the first question to ask is what young people need? Can you help me out with that one?

If the primary aim is to provide our young people with a community and context to grow closer to Jesus, what would it look like for you to feel like this was being offered?
What helps you and your friends walk confidently in your beliefs and experience intimate friendship with your creator?
What questions do you have about the Christian faith and life as a follower of Jesus? How might you envision these questions getting answered?
What thoughts are you having as you get ready to leave high school?

I am looking forward to your insights.

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Two things I noticed recently in my youth group are kids are scared to ask their questions and kids are scared to confess sin to one another. Lack of accountability has been a big issue for us as a church recently and something I think we can improve greatly on.
I have mixed feelings about leaving high school. I am hoping to go into vocational ministry and work with youth/students later on so that is part of my motivation in raising this question. When I go to college I hope to get plugged in with a local church and help with their youth program. As a high school student I have already seen how hard life can be but having a good group of dependable leaders and students to go to has made a big difference in some hard seasons. Another thing I have seen very helpful as a student is having some type of youth gathering throughout the week (not on Sundays). It helps split up the school week.
One thing I wanna know- how do you get kids to youth/church because they wanna be there and are excited about Jesus? I think if our students had a desire to be together and learn together and grow together we would be able to grow our youth group closer to Christ.

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Sadie,

I am so encouraged by the amount of insight you have. I do agree that fear can be a damaging motivator in our lives, whether it is fear of what others will think of our questions or fear of what others will think of our weaknesses. This fear can keep us isolated and unknown. Sadly, it can also keep many people isolated from God himself. I think you have definitely observed what all believers need.

We need a safe place to wrestle with our questions in life. The world we are ultimately made for is not the world we currently live in. This is why Jesus was so adamant about our need for truth, himself and a community of people who believe in truth. John 17:15-21. God graciously brought these things into my life as a freshman in college. I entered college not walking with the Lord and it was a mature older woman of faith that walked with me through my questions, taught me how to read the word and connect with God through prayer. She also showed me what it looked like to the part of the body of Christ and express His goodness, truth, and beauty to the world around me. This would be my prayer for you.

As for the many young people you see walking into youth groups and churches who come for reasons other than Jesus, I would not let this discourage you. People living in isolation often look for connections but do not start by looking for God. I am always amazed when God uses the longings of people’s hearts to show them the real need that he meets, a need for Himself. I often think of the woman at the well who had no idea as she was walking to draw water that she was going to the well for one reason but God was pursuing her for another. John 4

Have you chosen a school yet? I know the pressures of school can feel heavy but I’m so encouraged for the heart you already have for other people and I pray he continues to cultivate this in you.

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Good day Sadie, I am a “boomer”, but in my previous congregation I laboured alongside a YfC worker, and I am happy to say that I found the opposite to what you have found.
Now it must be borne in mind that I am in South Africa and there may therefore be a contextual difference. But around a ‘campfire’, he and I were often put on the spot.
Stay blessed
Bill

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Wow that is so encouraging and interesting to hear.

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Welcome @Sgpage.

It’s been a few years since I was an actively involved as a volunteer with our youth groups. But recently I’ve felt led to step into the floundering college ministry at our church. So I attempted to resurrect our college Sunday School this summer. It was not very successful in numbers, but it was still a good start in launching me into a learning mode. And I’m learning a lot. Some of these things may be of value to you.

Be real.
I have to be as genuine as possible. If I’m vulnerable it creates an open space for others to be vulnerable.

Listen. Learn.
Rather than having a mindset of being there to teach, I need to be open to what I can learn from them. I must value their opinions and worldview before they are likely to value mine. I’m trying to think of all our sessions as dialogue not dissemination of information and wisdom.

Love.
One of my weaknesses is in shepherding. It’s really been put on my heart that if I’m going to serve with our college kids I have to be willing to do the work to build a connection with them and maintain it while they are away at school. I have to love them well.

Challenging questions.
They are facing a culture increasingly at odds with Christianity. So challenging questions for all of us are important. Together we can safely dialog how to be in the world but not of it. It must be a safe space where all questions are welcome and we can critically think through possible approaches.

Their call.
It’s also important to remember that God has a call on them. He is calling them to a purposeful life. So if they’ve already heard that call, how do we as their church support them? And if not, how do we equip them to be listening for that call. (By the time our youth graduate they’ve potentially been on 6-10 mission trips. Quite a few have a call into missions.)


For years our youth groups have had one of their weekly meetings be in small groups. Sometimes that was Sundays, sometimes Wednesday’s, but it’s a good way for even the quietest kids to be valued and heard. They also open up to one another more in supportive relationships. Seek the Holy Spirit in the makeup of those groups and leaders so they do not devolve into cliques.

RZIM Connect has been really blessed lately with new members from your generation with a heart for Jesus. It’s encouraging to engage with the new “Timothy’s.” Don’t hesitate to let us know your viewpoint in posts. We can learn from you and definitely be blessed by you.

Our church, and I assume many others, use college kids as interns in our youth department. That kind of thing will be great experience for you and good on your resume when you are seeking employment later on.

God is with you, Sadie. Glad you’re with us.

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I think you’ve covered it well, Jennifer. My observations with my kids (and what I remember) is a safe space where questions can be asked without judgement or pat “Christian” answers that don’t really answer their questions.

One question I have for you, though - are you trying to be a group of only believers or are you wanting to bring in those who aren’t sure about their faith, if they have any at all? When I was in my teens, the youth group I was in at the time said to invite your friends, but when those friends came, they weren’t really welcomed because they didn’t behave like “good little church kids” did. After a couple of them spoke up with their skepticism about Jesus/Christianity, they were taken aside by the Pastor and then I saw them storming out, very angry. I can only assume what he said but I lost a lot of respect for that Pastor and the church that day.

In my case in this college ministry it was initially to offer a Sunday School class for while they were home for the summer. It was a week by week thing and I am trying to be willing and available wherever God leads.

So I’m trying to make connections with them that I can follow through with while they are at school. Meanwhile I’m trying to see if there are enough local young adults that don’t attend school or have recently graduated to start a small group.

Our church is always open to seekers and my hope is everyone will feel lead to bring a friend. I’m also getting involved with a Christian ministry at our local university that offers hospitality and friendship to international students.

After several years of RZIM Academy courses, I’ve felt I was being equipped for a purpose. I believe this is where I’m being led. I’m also standing in faith that if this is of God then He will do the heavy lifting and I will follow His lead. It’s not something that can be forced, but I feel if I’m being drawn to it then there’s a need and a purpose.

Thanks @dckmusic, for reminding me how easy it is to be careless and turn people off of church.

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In spite of that experience from my younger days, I’ve been quite convicted the last few years over not being as welcoming as I could or should be. Its when I took the core module and the discussion about the questioner vs. the question really struck me and its something I continue to struggle with, though I think I’ve gotten better. It’s something I have to continue to learn and just trust God to lead me where he wants me. I shudder sometimes to think of how many people I may have turned away.

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You’ve got a ton of responses. But I would say that authentic leaders would be important. You are raised on the Social Media Stage where electronics are propped up above relationships, kindness, honesty, and being real. The ugly head of the social ‘media popular group’ is always there. I pray God will breaks those chains. It is stifling to feel you are watched and expected to follow, and not just be. Jesus gives us HOPE and a way out.

He reprograms our minds and hearts. Thankfully He rewires us with the Mind of Christ. He gives us a heart of flesh for our hearts of stones. He renews our minds through reading and chewing on His Word. Jeremiah 23 - His Word is like Fire and like a Hammer shattering stone. Talking to God exposing everything to Him is Safe. He hears. He directs. Ask for help. Psalm 34 …I have yet to see the righteous forsaken.

Teens and all of us need to remind ourselves that the LORD God always SEES, HEARS, and KNOWS what we do, say, think, post, etc. – Yet He love us. I survived a 13 year eating disorders as a Christian, bullies in school and while running home. Kids need to remember God is the Ancient of Days. Everything changes and nothing changes, God is always in control. He loves us. He will get them through anything they face.

Teens and kids need LIFE outside the Battery, Humpback creating depressing time absorbing electronic devices.

Jesus spoke the world into existence. Every fabulous bit of it. He is our champion. Our victory, Advocate. Knows our struggles. The LORD paid for.our sins and planned for our lives.

Kids need to know there is life outside of the ‘box’ and ‘popular think.’ They dont control the universe. God does. He will.never leave you or forsake you.

Then expose them to the Bible Study, Prayer, and.Hobbies, like music.instruments, various art, and activities to get out and experience nature.

All girl and all boy conversations about issues. This should provide reasonable accommodations for gender differences and privacy.

Hope some of this is helpful.

Thank you all for the insight and reflections. I appreciate it :smile:

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You do have great insights Sadie!
I have to ask you, apparently you have been in a group yourself with people of your own age, how long did it last? Or hopefully is it still going on?
Coz what really happens is the people get excited at first then drop off.
What things would you’ve liked to change?

I am involved in the youth group at the church I attend. We had some years where no one came and it was very slow but the past year and a half we have been rebuilding. We have seen a lot of people who come for the fun activities but not Bible study or small groups but I have seen a lot of people stepping up recently and helping with things, attending bible study, going on mission trips with us and more. So I’m just hoping we can continue this growth

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Stay with it Sadie.
Bill

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This is probably gonna sound so mean but here goes lol

Teens need a reason for being at church otherwise they aren’t going to want to be there. That’s why I believe in showing them what they are going to face in the world. I think more youth groups should have people no one knows come to meet the youth (in church or normal social settings) and just challenge every thing they claim to believe. When they see that and how they handled it, it can make them realize they don’t have an answer for as much as they thought they did. This can create a hunger for wanting to know more. And the more you know about your faith the more confident you are that it’s true and the more confident you are in sharing it with others.

I’m not saying this works all the time but it’s what got me serious about christ when I was younger except it was a real atheist who basically destroyed me in and out. Lol

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Luna, I understand where you are going with that. The reason I got interested in apologetics was not being able to answer some of my friend’s questions about Christianity in some debates we had. I have also found that when you ask a lot of teenagers about what they believe, they haven’t even thought about it much or don’t know. It’s so important to even ask simple questions like what do you believe about ____ and see what they say. It can definitely spark an interest in them and a hunger for truth!

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Being a student, something which I found helpful in my own walk of faith as a youth was understanding my own ‘calling’ as a young student. Yes there is a general call in all our lives as a Christian, but knowing God’s immediate call in our lives in the present is also equally important and this is not emphasised enough, especially for youths.
Many atimes those of us who lead are fulfilling God’s call in our lives and we have a zeal and passion for God as we enjoy God in our daily lives in His will. But sadly it’s not always true for those who are being lead. Very often they have a compartmentalised life, of studies in one box, church in another, friends in another, social life and family in another and they are stuck in the dichotomy of the secular and sacred. They just don’t know how all these fit together, and very often faith is sacrificed for the sake of genuineness. No one likes a hypocrite.
So if a young boy/girl has experienced Christ saving grace it would be very helpful for him/her if we can show why and how they can live for God and glorify Him with their life, in a practical way, showing them practically how God has called them among their friends, family, in their studies and in their personal life to be a person of impact and good. One way could be showing them how they can study for the glory of God in whatever field they may be(J.R Tolkien, C.S.Lewis, Tostoy, Kepler, Maxwell, Pascal, Boyles were all men of God who excelled in their fields.). Another could be showing them how they can be messengers of the gospel to their perishing friends and dear ones. Many youths are adventure loving too and what better than one in God’s will. This is not to minimise their personal relationship with God and waiting upon Him in prayer and the Word for His will in their lives but God has placed us too in their lives for a reason and if a single person learn to trust God personally in obedience and faith and walk with Him in their daily lives it will go a long way in transforming that life and others around. As someone said- “Knowledge is experiential, not just intellectual.” They will know God’s glory in a far better way when they learn to live out their faith in a daily practical way.
Cheers :slight_smile:

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