Contend Earnestly: Youth Group

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Youth Group

I know there are a lot of opinions about having a formal youth group around churches these days yet the conviction that I hear has little to do with the practicality of the situation. Let me explain. I know that some do not believe in having a formal youth group because of what the normal youth group in America looks like, which I would agree, most that I have seen are garbage. But, I do believe if done correctly they can produce great theological study for our younger generation. I am currently about to complete Mark Dever's book, "The Deliberate Church" and he is one that doesn't not endorse youth groups. I have also seen and spoken with other's about youth group's as well. The interesting thing is that most of the people I talk to still do ministry to the youth in some way, even Dever does this in their own way. Yet, they will still speak out against it. I guess I just don't get why it is so wrong to have a youth group that meets during the week for study and then also on Sunday morning before church. I do find it very laughable that most that don't have youth group's still have some sort of "activities" for youth, even though it is not "formal." Most will say, "there is no such thing as a 'youth' pastor in the Bible!" Well, there is also no such thing as an "associate" pastor either, so why don't we just throw those out as well.

The point is that most are just arguing over titles and not the need to gather young people to learn about God's word.

Here is how our youth group is run, just to give you an idea:

The Lord's Day: Meet at 9:00am to usually go through a book study, we just finished Colossians and my pastor is now going through a walk through of the Old Testament. Then at 10:15am the youth join the main service for our corporate worship.

Thursday Nights: We meet at 6:15pm and go until 8pm. This time is dedicated to preaching, singing, accountability and prayer. There is a 15 minute time period at the beginning to talk and fellowship and the sort but then the rest of the time is dedicated to worshiping God. Currently we are going through "What the Bible says about..." which is really a Systematic Theology class. If you would like to hear my introduction click here.

Activities: We are currently getting a homeless ministry and a Senior's living facility ministry up and running. Our first time of ministering to the homeless will be June 2nd. We are also going to be going to Mexico on August 4th to do a VBS and service projects at a church in Reynosa, Mexico.

Our youth group is focused on living our theology 24/7. When done correctly, I believe youth group is a great time of learning, engaging and worshiping God. I don't care what you call it or who leads it, if you don't believe that our youth need special care in this world you're not opening your eyes.

I pray that God continues to use our little youth group to impact our communities for Christ.


David Shaw said...

I agree completely. I wonder if those that think that churches shouldn't have youth groups also think that there shouldn't be Sunday School classes by age group? Also do they believe that there shouldn't be mens or womens bible studies? Youth groups are wonderful programs that churches have. Many provide real discipleship for the youth and care more for their spiritual well-being than whether they have enough pizza during the meeting.

But there are also many youth groups that are not focused in discipleship but on "having a good time." There is nothing wrong on having a good time in church but they will ultimately alter what they do so that youth will continue to have a good time. To explain - they will create activities that will make people comfortable at their church. This will lead to teachings that won't offend anyone because they want people to feel good and come back. This is the worst kind of youth groups.

May God continue to bless your ministry.

Seth McBee said...

What I have run into is that they won't call it Sunday School but will call it "Bible Study"...again just like with youth group, really just a function of what it is called. But most of the time it is not separated by age group. Bible studies are the same way. I could be wrong, but I wonder if all those in common with this are also RPW guys...seems to be the continuity within this...

Maybe some of my friends will join in on this discussion that I know have these convictions...I just hope they know this wasn't a "challenge" on their convictions but just some thoughts on the issue...

Stefan said...


I just sent you an e-mail on this subject, but having read your comment here, I would be careful to draw the connection between the regulative principle of worship and certain views on youth groups.

I am convinced that one's view of a youth group is related to one's view of worship. But, remember, the RPW (historically understood) is concerned primarily with what goes on during public worship, not, strictly speaking with activities extraneous to it (e.g., a youth group).


Stefan said...


Your comment about Dever is confusing. Does he or does he not endorse youth groups?


Seth McBee said...

No, he doesn't endorse youth groups. From what we have talked about he would endorse exactly what you would endorse. Every once and awhile gathering the youth is fine but separating them week in and week out he would not do.

Seth McBee said... far as your comment about the RPW, I understand completely (well, not competely) but my question was simply I wonder if they connect in any way?

I understand that this isn't what the RPW is speaking of, but I thought there might be a "loose" connection.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughts on the issue. The main point is indeed to get younger people to learn the word of God, I don't think anyone would disagree with that. The issue is, how should you go about doing that. Its more than just an issue of title. Dever does not mind using the term "youth group" to refer to the teenagers in the congregation, although he does go about educating them in a different way. Here are a few thoughts about the youth group at Capitol Hill Baptist Church:

1. Dever expects that the teenagers are smart enough to be able to handle adult Sunday School. They teach the basics of the faith, which youths should be able to understand

2. Dever wants to build a close-knit structure where the older people in the congregation are befriending and teaching the younger. It is a mark of health when the congregation does not pay attention to the dividing lines of race, job, financial status, or age. He is trying to get the congregation to love all of the members, and encourage them all regardless of stage in life.

3. He recognizes that the main spiritual influences in the lives of children and teenagers should be the parents. That is who is given responsibility biblically, so the church should not try to take it away. With that said, it is certainly understood that not all of the children and teenagers have the greatest parents. So he encourages teenagers to be in discipling relationships with other people in the congregation, just as he would encourage anyone else.

A few considerations concerning the youth group at CHBC:

1. It is very small. If there were more youths, then things would be done somewhat different. As it is, there are a lot of young children, so the church is pouring a lot of time in that ministry right now, and will probably have to rethink youth group ministry sometime soon.

2. The youth group does meet regularly for Bible study. It is completely false to think that CHBC does nothing for the youths or does not believe in youth ministry. Dever is happy to have the church minister to youths, although he does not approach that ministry in a programmatic fashion.

Well, I hope this was helpful. Please do not think Dever hates youth ministry. He doesn't. He does not approve with many of the methods used in that ministry (or in many of the other church ministries at that). He is not speaking out against ministering to youths, but about how that ministry is preformed in many churches.

I hope that the Lord blesses your ministry to your youth groups with much spiritual growth. God bless!

Seth McBee said...

Thanks for stopping by. I can only assume you are a leader or congregant at CHBC. I in no way wanted people to think that Pastor Dever "looked down" on the youth. So, if I did that in any way I completely apologize.

He does speak out in his book against a "formal" youth group though, with no (from my remembrance) exceptions from what I read. Again, this doesn't mean that he in any way dismisses the youth, so I thank you Royce for stopping by and taking time to clear up CHBC's thoughts on youth ministry.

Also, I would like everyone to know, and you will see with my book review, that the book, The Deliberate Church is VERY well done, and I have a great deal of respect and gratitude for Pastor Dever's ministry.

Reforming Baptist said...

I just read the Deliberate Church also, and it is so foreign from what I am used to. In a little over a week, I will know whether or not I will be the full time pastor of the church where I serve. I have been reflecting greatly about the spirtual health of the congregation, and how people are so disconnected from eachother, even in a small church. Brotherly kinship is almost absent among many. How can I get these people to become a loving family unit?

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