August 19, 2015

Youth Ministry + Church Membership

As a youth leader in my church, I am experiencing first hand the upsides and downsides to youth ministry in the modern church setting.  And even though I didn't grow up in a youth group, I can still see the good and bad parts of this extension of the local church. 

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I understand why parents like youth group: it gives their kids an opportunity to mingle with other like-minded youth, in a safe, God-centered (hopefully!) environment, which encourages spiritual growth, ministry, and fun.  And while I spent years opposed to youth groups (and still am to an extent), I appreciate their value when it comes to outreach.  However, one concern I have is for the mindset it may put into the hearts of young people, who grow up with a typical youth group experience. 

At my church, the youth are treated as an extension of the larger church body, and participate in the service.  We don't have a separate youth service, just for the young people.  That is what I find to be dangerous, when the youth are removed from the context of the church, separated by themselves, worshiping in a different area.  

And while there may or may not be something more to this method, I think we should consider the fact that the youth of the church will one day be the 20-somethings, young marrieds, middle agers, etc., and so should have the same worship experience as everyone else.  I believe this brings a certain maturity to their spiritual lives which cannot be achieved if they are isolated. 

The church is a whole body, not segregated into different parts which function separate from each other - everything has to be connected in order to fully function.  So, when our youth are separated from the rest of the church body, they suffer, everyone suffers.  Organic interaction between all ages is the healthiest option, and the most biblical.  

I really appreciate the mindset of our youth directors - each Sunday morning the youth meet in the "prime timers" class to sing hymns and prayer before going to their Sunday school class.  This breeds unity among two groups who would ordinarily (sadly) not cross paths much.  I hope that our church will continue to seek opportunities to bring "groups" together to work side by side, since we are all on the same team! 

The youth are the future leaders and members of the church, and I want them to be truly committed, passionate Truth seekers and sharers who know what they believe and aren't afraid to proclaim those things in their communities.  We need to seek to spur our youth towards spiritual maturity - and I believe that incorporated worship is just one key to this growth.  

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 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12 


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Thank you for sharing!