My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Youthgroups in the spotlight – part 3

This is my last part on youthgroups (for the moment). The first one dealt with my own past and experience with youth groups. In the second I listed a few things that I see as rather critical concerning youth groups. But, in general, I think youth groups are a good and useful part of church life.

1. One of the criticisms is that youth groups are often mixed and contain Christians and non-Christians. Very often that is true and, as problematic as it seems and sometimes is, this is a wonderful chance for youth from non-Christian families to meet people with a different view on life, different believes, etc. It may be the only time in their lives (or at least for a long period of time) where they have a chance to learn about Jesus and what it means to be a Christian. This is definitely true for summer camps. I’ve been a leader at several camps and we always had very many youth that had had hardly any exposure to the Christian faith.

2. It is a good place for Christian teens to meet other believing teens and to form good and important friendships. Friends are very important to teenagers. I don’t want to say that friends should replace the influence of family etc., but it is just a fact that most youths at least care a lot about what their friends think/like/believe and there are things that msot of them will only share with their friends, not their parents. I met most of my best friends among the youth from my church and it was (and is still) wonderful to have friends who believe in the same things you do and with whom you can discuss spiritual as well as other questions. They just understand your basis. This is especially important for Christian youths whose parents are not Christians.

3. If the youth pastor/director/volunteers are mature Christians who really love the Lord, they can be wonderful role models. They hold such a different position fom parents in the youths’ lives. They are somewhere between parents and friends. They are a good place for the youth to turn to if he doesn’t want to ask either his parents or his friends.

And I personally consider it huge fun to discuss spiritual/biblical/life questions with youths. They are often so interested and they have so many questions. It can get very challenging, cause if they ask it’s probably the hard questions! It is wonderful to see some coming into an ever closer relationship with the Lord (through all the doubts and questions), and it can be hreatwrenching to see some coming so close and never taking the dicisive step. But it’s so worth it!