Supercharging Church Youth Groups. I look at some issues in the church’s youth, and what is wrong and what is right.
What is the Church supposed to be?
The problem with modern churches today is that they don’t have a good grasp on what the church is supposed to be.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The first thing about this verse is that the church is the possession of Jesus Christ. It is his, it is for him, for God’s purposes. The church is not a community center to entertain our youth. Essentially, “good churches” today make the youth ministry into an entertainment center, or a religious club, where our Christian youth can have fun with other Christian teens, most probably most are not “worldly”. But the truth of the matter is that there is very little difference between Christian teenagers and worldly, unsaved teenagers. Maybe the extremes are not seen so often in Christian teens, but they are all headed that way.
The next thing we see is that Jesus “is building his church.” I understand this statement in two ways. 1) God is recruiting or saving people to add to the church so that there are more saved. He is doing this through evangelism, and this evangelism is done by his redeemed children, adults AND TEENS. So the purpose of the youth ministry has to have a primary focus of getting the gospel out, presenting the gospel forcefully, with emotion (“compelling them to come in”), and getting anybody who gets saved grounded in the principle doctrines of the Bible.
Second, to build his church is to edify the believers. This is not a feel good emotional thing, but rather a training of the believer for life. Every believer must “have their head screwed on straight” so that they can fulfill what God wants of them in this life, and also be prepared to live the Christian life correctly and fully as a good child of God. Again, entertainment is hard to fit into these concepts. It just isn’t a consideration. The problem is that teens want fun. That is their idol. So, basically, the majority of our teens are 1) unsaved, or 2) saved but without spiritual strength and knowledge as to what they as Christians should be “wanting”. Again we return to the idea that teens need orientation as to how to live the Christian life. Motives are a big need in their lives.
How to Achieve the Proper Spiritual Goals in a Youth Group
Practically considered, there needs to be a lot less games and fun (entertainment) and a lot more Bible study, and spiritual activities to develop a good Christian life. Here again, we have “drugged up” our teens with fun and entertainment so much (even their adult parents were brought up on fun activities are what teens do at church) that to break the habit of “fun” is a hard sell. Basically, teenagers go where the fun is, and if a church tries to change fun for Bible study and other spiritual activities, they will change churches if at all possible. If it is not possible, they will “drop out of church”, and a fight will break out between these teenagers and their Christian parents.
But I must insist that we can only fight spiritual problems with spiritual principles. We preaach to solve our problems.
Prayer for our Youth
By this, we need to pray for the youth ministry. If we understand our reality, our teens are the next generation of Christians. If we fail with them, then Christianity “in our town, in our church” has failed, and with the death of the older folks, the church will shut down or will lose the Christians that make up that church. Reproduction of Christians through evangelism will cease. This prayer for the youth is a life sustaining activity for the church.
Leading by Example
Another problem here is hypocrisy. People observe through seeing spiritual principles lived in front of them. Teenagers are extremely keen eyed when somebody tells them to do something, but the person telling them is not themselves living by that principle. Actually, there is a spiritual principle that is applicable to all teaching situations. You teach by words, but your students learn through watching you live those principles you are teaching. Hypocrites need not apply.
So to focus here, if the parents and ministers of the church are not praying, studying their Bibles, inviting people to come visit the church with them, if these adults are not fully engaged in participating and supporting the work of the church, getting the teenagers to do all that is totally hopeless. Adults have to lead by being examples of what they want the teens to be.
Supercharging the Youth Group
Firstly, we need to define what “supercharging” is or should be. What is it in your mind? Does a supercharged youth group mean that they have parties every time they meet? That your teens are begging to go to church constantly because there is going to be this game, that experience (like going to some entertaining place and spend a lot of time and money there), having social gatherings where the main point is for boys and girls “to connect” or date. While that is something that should be happening, this is not the primary purpose of a youth group.
In larger churches, adults don’t want babies in the services because they make a lot of distractions. So the church have nurseries where the point is to attend to the babies so that the parents can listen undistracted. Unfortunately, we have removed the teens from our preaching services on the same basis. Anything goes for the teens meeting apart during the main church’s preaching time, as long as they don’t distract the adults in the main church. That is extremely sad.
Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
If you think about what we have done, we are preventing the youth from coming to Christ. What goes on in the main adult preaching time is really Christian life matters. That is where the youth should be, and what they should be learning. If we remove the youth from that service, and then in their own service, we water down, or complete abandon preaching for them, we have prevented the youth from coming to Christ.
Christ was addressing this exact point. We have to respond correctly to this in our plan for our youth.
So, in the minds of so many of our youth, they unilaterally reject “preaching.” They see anybody who tries to tell them how they should live as somebody and something that they will not tolerate.
Bait and Switch Methodology
So many churches use what is called Bait and Switch. “We are going to have a youth war at our church, and it is going to be fun, fun, fun.” Once at church, they do something along those lines and then try to insert preaching and the plan of salvation into the activities. Usually this fails horribly, and with time, worldly or unsaved youth just never darken the door of the church. Is that good? No, it is not.
Matthew 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Morality can only be communicated between people when the “teacher” lives what he is teaching. By using Satan’s methods, we teach our people hypocrisy, not biblical principles. There lies the real problem. We, as adults, are not living our salvation as good Christians, and when we see the effects of our hypocrisy in the lives of others, we get upset. But, the solution is not using persuasive tactics to get people to do what we want, but we oursleves need to be examples of those moral goals.
Supercharging Church Youth Groups