I’d like to make a case for the youth group.
In my mind, there are three types of people reading this. There are those who never got involved in a youth group and never wanted to. There are those who got involved in a group but had a terrible experience. Then there are those who got involved and had a wonderful experience.
I fall into the last category. I was fortunate enough to have been blessed with a wonderful church.We weren’t perfect to say the least, but I like to think that our leaders were doing something right.
My youth group was also a large one. On any given Wednesday, we had 150- 200 students in the room. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized how unusual those numbers are. I also didn’t realize that it is unusual to have a functional youth group with those large of numbers. But some how we did.
I’d like to make a case for the youth group because I was involved my whole life. From the time I could go to church I was in the nursery. Then I was in the next level up and the next level and so on until the Middle school and High school youth group. From summer camps to Sunday school, to Wednesday nights, to retreats, to small groups, this group was my life.
Now, I want to stop here and assure the skeptic that I am not some brain washed little Christian girl. Trust me, I’m not. I was never forced into this, never force-fed the Christian doctrine. Never. Not once. I understand other points of view about God. I’ve had my fair share of doubts.
Yet, I’ve also had my fair share of the most wonderful experiences while in my youth group. It gave me a place to get connected outside of the public school system. It recharged my battery and gave me the strength to finish out the week in the public school system. My small group knew me, the good and the bad, and still accepted me. We were the church.
My youth group was also a little different because we took whole years to focus on a certain social issue that we could impact or change. For instance, my sophomore year was also known as KIN or Kids in Need. That entire year we focused on kids around the world and in our backyard that were in need. We organized a silent auction, a 5K run/walk, and other events that raised money and awareness about the different issues we were tackling.
I know that not every youth group does things like that. In fact, I realize that’s rare. Yet, a youth group gives young people the place to act on issues that bother them. It’s different than doing this from high school because the youth group approaches it from a Godly perspective.
The youth group was the one spot that I felt 100% ok to be myself. School is hard. It’s one thing to go to a Christian school. Its a whole other to attend a public school. Those were rough years filled with peer pressure, rejection, teasing, and the constant bombardment of what felt like everything bad. The youth groups was a breath of fresh air and a place that I could leave my guard at the door.
I could write a whole book on a case for the youth group. That one group completely defined me as a kid. Looking back, I can see the pivotal role it played in my development as a Christian. It taught me how to live like a Christian in a place that is not easy to live like that. It taught me to trust others and to open up to others as well. I realize that some may not have been fortunate to have the same experience I did. I also realize that my youth group is not the only one that is awesome. Yet, I want to make a case for almost all youth groups. They are there for students in the most crucial time of their lives. I’m incredibly thankful for mine and think it often even though I am now in college.
So, I’d like to make a case for the youth group. Despite its flaws, it is more influential than most of the bad things that society throws at students.