Your church’s youth group is a complete waste of time and needs to be put out of its misery. If you care anything about your church, you’ll do everything you can to get rid of the youth group as quickly as possible.
I’ve spent my whole life in church so I’ve seen my share of youth groups. Without exception, every youth group that I have encountered has served no purpose other than to give teenagers a place to sit and complain while their parents are in church. Here are some other things that youth groups have in common. Again, not a majority of youth groups. Not 75 percent of youth groups. Every youth group.
Youth groups are like religious gangs where every week there is a turf war between the kids that go to School A and School B or between the kids who are friends with Ex-Boyfriend A and the ones who are still loyal to Ex-Girlfriend B.
Youth groups are Nickelodeon with a few Bible verses. It’s all entertainment, all the time. Everything, including the Bible portion of the show, is silly. Rather than raising expectations, youth groups pander to the lowest common denominator of spirituality by settling for fun, games and clichés.
Youth groups give parents a false sense of security by making them believe that simply keeping kids busy for an hour or two a week will build them a solid enough foundation to get them through life. It never does.
In short, youth groups do not produce disciples. Instead, they churn out thousands of self-segregated, overly amused and deceived teenagers.
So like I said, if you care anything about your church and the future of the young people in it, do everything you can to get rid of the youth group.
And replace it with a youth ministry.
A youth ministry isn’t too spiritual for fun and games. There’s plenty of that. But it’s never the final objective. Rather, a youth ministry is concerned with, well, ministry. That means ministry to each other, even if each other means talking to kids who are different. And it means ministry to others, whether those others sit at a lunch table by themselves or they live in a mud hut in Romania.
But a youth ministry is more than just a place where teenagers get along with each other and do nice things in the community and around the world. It’s where the gospel is taught. Clearly. Passionately. And so persuasively that students can’t help but live it out the rest of the week.
Youth groups make me sick. And I think that they make Jesus sick too. Nothing in regular church life is more disturbing than a room full of bored kids who hate each other yet claim to love Jesus.
But youth ministries are some of the best things I’ve ever been around. They are never perfect. And every member isn’t best friends with each other. But they do at least love each other. And their neighbor. And, most of all, Jesus. And it shows.
Jesus never told us to keep students busy, entertained or occupied.
He did however tell us to make disciples.
And that’s one command that is nearly impossible to obey in the context of a youth group.