Sunday, March 4, 2012

the problem with teen church and youth groups...

...and yes, there is a problem.
most definitely.

the other day, 
while walking on the beach with one of my own teenaged girls
she said something interesting.
something i had long been thinking myself.
she said "mom, you know that church service we love,
the one by the park, where the minister is so good?"
i knew which one she meant, because it is our favorite around here.
she said "can we stop with this youth church thing and go to the church we WANT to be at,
the church we love, where we come out feeling as if we learned something good,
feeling a little closer to God each time?"

funny how kids do that.
they cut right to the chase.
after years of trying to find that one youth group,
the one that would provide tons of christian friends,
service opportunities,
church involvement...she got to the point and asked to stop chasing something
that just isn't there anymore.
at least not at the ones we have tried and/or know about.
not the way i remember youth groups to be.
and believe me, mine wasn't perfect.
in fact, it was perfectly dysfunctional.
yet in a strange way, it was perfect that way.
 or maybe we just knew why we were at church.

anyway, i looked at her and simply said
YES.
yes, we can go to the church by the park.
they still have to "get involved" with their church.
but at this point, i don't care if their involvement consists of visiting
elderly members of the church in nursing homes or wherever there is a need.

you see, i personally think we have gotten WAY off track in churches today.
in a desperation to attract every possible teen,
we have taken youth out of church and given them their own 
"teen church".
why?
so we can water the message down, make it more palatable for today's youth,
more fun...more worldly.
i'm not uptight.
i like praise music.
but dressing up a tiny bit is simply showing respect.
they don't teach it at schools and many parents don't teach it at home...
and now we don't teach it at church.
i know the doors are open to everyone...as they should be.
but it sometimes seems in the process of doing that,
we lose the original message.
by the way, this looks like an interesting read on the topic...

how about this...
my eldest has a Facebook but is rarely on it.
she just doesn't have much time.
and at an early age, recognized the phoniness of it
and the time wasted on it.
not to say she won't enjoy it as time goes on...just not right now.
my youngest doesn't have one and doesn't want one...yet.
but guess what?
every church has a Facebook page and announcements and photos are on it.
gee...our churches are trying to force us to be on Facebook?
excuse me while i get sick.
because it makes me sick.
Facebook is a choice.
no church or youth leader should make someone feel they are "missing out" 
by not being a part of something that is NOT in any way, shape or form
biblical. christian. fellowship.
sorry...it's not.
yet this happens every sunday.
because it's all a numbers game anymore.
but i guess that's another topic.
(i'm sure this blog post is all over the place as it is:)

i have good girls.
not perfect...good.
they could very well hit a major roadblock and get screwed up someday.
but not because they don't know better.
because they do.
we homeschool because we like it.
not because we have to.
not because we shelter our girls excessively.
they are "out there".
they hear the language.
see the drugs.
know of kids who are sexually active.
in trouble with the law.

and guess what?
they know of these kids often times from a youth group.
you know, the place you send your kids to "fellowship" with other youths.
but it's okay.
ever notice many of the teens in youth group walk right by an elderly member
without a glance, greeting or kind word.
but see their youth leader or other teen and they are whooping it up?
whatever happened to a "church family"?

looking back, i LOVE the group i grew up with.
we had fun.
went on trips.
had parties.
were FAR from perfect.
got up to no good...but boy, was it innocent compared to today.
and church was church.
Sunday school or youth group was our time.
we worshipped with our "church family".

we visited nursing homes.
worked in the church nursery.
helped with children's church or sunday school.
worked in vacation bible school.

no loud bands. 
 flashing strobe lights.
no drugs allowed.
parents were notified of problems.
expectations were given to us.
there were "games"...after the message.
and there was always a message.
we knew why we were there.
in so many youth groups,
they try to make it fun.
not preachy.
because, oh my gosh, the kids might feel like they are at church.
(a youth leader told me this once)

the last time my girls were at Sunday night youth group,
two of the regular boys wandered in and were very high.
nothing new, apparently.
but hey...at least they were there.
yes...and so were the other kids.
the ones there for the right reasons.
the ones who wanted to be there.
this is disrespectful to the families who try to get it right.
i know we have to reach out to the lost.
evangelism, right?
but at what cost?
i can tell you, the cost is WAY too high if we manage to screw up the young people
who are trying to get it right.

i have no doubt that i will anger some of you who read this entire article.
Friday i had over 3,000 visitors to my blog.
i hope i get that many to read this.
 maybe we can find a way to make our churches and in particular,
our youth groups a fun house of worship,
instead of JUST a fun house,
which is what many have become.
not all.
not by a long shot.
but many.
too many!

it was very easy to tell my daughters they can attend "adult church".
i don't blame them.
so far, they have chosen good friends, with or without a youth group.
maybe in spite of them.
it's too bad they have to go it alone.
and don't worry, they can still take part in various activities.
for the most part, i'm referring to a separate "teen church"
they want to be part of a church family and not a weekly party
masquerading as church.
they want to have fun...AND be supported in their own christian life.

rare for me to be on my soapbox.
i'm sorry to have to say this.
some churches aren't doing the average christian youth any favors.
if they were, they would be better equipped in college.
and wouldn't drop out of a church because it wasn't FUN anymore.

life is tough enough for teenagers.
especially christian teenagers.
too bad we are turning their youth groups into an extension of their
schools.
YIKES...now THAT is one very scary thought:)

i hope i haven't offended anyone.
like every mother, i simply want what is best for my children.
and i want them to know that they ARE different,
and as such, they are expected to BE different.
to live different.
i want them to know that it won't always be easy.
but it will be worth it.
XOXOXO
Suzanne

1 comment:

  1. I was raised in a church that did not have separate "youth groups" for the kids... but we went weekly, and I still go weekly... though (same church) has youth groups now, I would rather see those kids in a row with their parents at Sunday morning service.

    ReplyDelete

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