Youth pastors are always asking themselves, “How can I foster a committed, unified youth group?“
Many church attenders would judge a youth group’s success based on numbers. Perhaps, base it on a unique and exciting program schedule. I will admit, these can be great achievements and benchmarks for growth.
However, most youth pastors would trade half of their attendance, for students who were unified and committed to truly following Christ teaching. Specifically, within their daily lives and not just at youth group.
I’m currently a few months into my fourth year as youth pastor. Most would say I’ve had a very successful youth program. Yet, much like other youth pastors, my opening question has come to mind many times throughout the past few years.
Most of the students I work with are three different people; depending on whether they’re at church, at school or online. I believe that most of them truly have an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. Still, they never seem ready or willing to fully dive into daily, unashamed commitment to Christ and each other.
Some of you may be thinking, “with teenagers, is that even possible?” Well, I know it’s possible because I’ve experienced it; not as a youth pastor, but as a student.
Half way through my high school career, I was blessed to enter into a thriving youth group. Their were loads of students and plenty of trips and activities to attend. Better yet, the friends that I made at this youth group were vastly different that the christian kid that I claimed to be.
I wish I could say that it was due to the great youth pastor we had, but he had moved on soon after I started attending the youth group. The difference was in the students. Specifically, with the guys that befriended me.
These guys really desired an authentic relationship with Christ. Their passion ran so deep, that they attended a weekly Bible study together at a youth worker’s home. Soon enough, they invited me to attend.
Now, just to be clear, these guys were not wacko Bible-thumper types by any means! There’s plenty of photographs to prove that. Still, they applied what they learned in Scripture.
For the most part, our fun and entertainment seemed to always fit within the boundaries of whether or not our relationship with God might suffer. What was considered cool was not good enough to move away from what we understood from Scripture.
Flash back to this year, and my ongoing reflection of what creates this type of youth group environment? What qualities keep a youth group committed to Christ and each other?
Fortunately, Francis Chan has answered this question within a couple of teaching series’ for students. The first is titled Surrender: Others Before Self and Christ Above All. The second, titled Courage: Developing Character to Stand Strong. See the following series trailer below.
As I think back to my youth group experience, it’s true. Many times, we chose to surrender what was cool in the world’s eyes; to create our own styles, speech, behaviors and entertainment. For the most part, we were also courageous enough to state our belief in and commitment to Christ. Even though, we knew that in certain circles we may be ridiculed for our position.
Last night, I explained much of this to our students, youth workers and couple parents. I followed with the promotional videos for Francis Chan’s Surrender and Courage teaching series. This semester, I hope to challenge our students to surrender the things in their lives that are keeping them from consistently following Christ.
Following this series, I hope the students will learn to courageously embrace their positions in Christ, to the point where they can daily walk with confident faith.
What tools do you use that unite students and develop their committed to Christ?