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Youth groups
#1
This is something our church is facing and I'd like to hear your thoughts on this:

My church is quite small (approx 50 members). Mostly made up of fairly senior-aged people. We've got about 6-8 people we consider 'youth' ranging from 5 years up to 19 years. We're struggling to keep our youth in church, not because they hate church, but because they're going to the larger churches where the youth programs there are bigger and better.

I admit that it's important for a young person to find a church they can fit into -especially one where they have people around their age they can relate to. But how does a small church like ours compete against a large church with 1000 members and the resources to fund their activities like large concerts and events?

I know we're all one body of Christ and there really is no 'competition', but how do you retain youth in your church when there is every encouragement for them to attend another?

I've always thought that if you could involve your youth and get them serving in areas of the church where they feel needed, then that would solve the problem. But it doesn't always work out that way. They have their friends at school that attend these large churches and hear about all the great events coming up and getting invites, and they want to hang out with their friends and go to these great events.

It's also not possible for the large church to restrict people and say you can only attend if you're from this church. That would be silly and in fact they always say "come along and bring your friends!".

So, are the local small churches doomed to having an aged attendance? Is there no hope of us ever having a growing and vibrant youth group in our church?
God has placed me on earth to accomplish certain things.
Right now, I am so far behind that I will never die.
#2
I dont know of any cure, but with my parish, its the same problem.
My area has alot of old people .. and apart from those in primary school,
the amount of teens and young adults have declined quite a bit. Since there isnt really any youth base its almost impossible to start up a youth group even if we wanted to.

In some ways i think its better for people to go where they fit in. I mean, let them enjoy being young. Im not sure if this will be the case, but it likely that they will probably come back when they have had enough of the fun stuff.

I dont know why though, ive never really thought of switching to another parish because mine was too boring, ive been at the same one all my life. It doesnt matter where you are though. Church is a celebration of Christ, and no matter where you are celebrating it, it is still a celebration nonetheless...
#3
Same situation with us... we joined a pioneering church this year, so they're quite small in number at the moment, though growing slowly. Trying to grow the youth group, or any ministry for that matter - is quite a challenge because of the resources available, and when everyone has to wear multiple hats -- we don't want to burn people out.

It seems the big churches don't have any problems with attracting crowds - it's almost like the old adage "you need money to make money" (but with people of course).

But nonetheless - we're trusting that God has a plan for the church and I guess we just have to serve faithfully and leave it up to Him and his timing... Big Grin
#4
Quote:We're struggling to keep our youth in church, not because they hate church, but because they're going to the larger churches where the youth programs there are bigger and better.

From my experience in Youth Ministry, bigger is not always better!
Small youth groups offer people intimacy -something which can't be easily found in a big youth program. Individuals crave intimacy (whether they admit it or not!), and have the need to be personally understood and valued. On this note, I think it's important to really focus on having youth activities which intentionally promote building and strengthening relationships.

Also, you could strengthen relationships by simply taking time out during the week to call your youth members (or even chat to them on MSN/Yahoo), to see how they're doing and if they have any they'd like you to pray for, or even just to be a sounding board for some of their ideas and concerns. You don't necessarily need to solve all of their problems. Simply being an adult with a listening ear makes a world of a difference.

You could also make a difference in the lives of your youth by spending time with them outside of the usual Friday night activitiy. (e.g. have lunch together after church, watch a movie with them on the weekend, maybe attend one of their basketball matches). This is a way, you get to know them outside of the programs you normally do and you'll be surprised how interested they are in getting to know you as a person, not just as the "youth leader".

Hard as it is to do, the focus should not always be on quantity but the quality. I think that if the youth you are currently leading in your church are growing together spiritually and relationally, the growth in numbers should come naturally as a result of their increasing awareness that "Where two or three are gathered in my name," says Jesus in Matthew 18:20, "I am there among them."

In other words, because they're having such a blast hanging out with the group in your church (irrespective of numbers), they'll be not want to be elsewhere....and even better, eventually they'll discover something really special about their own church youth group and will want to invite their friends along! Smile
#5
Just another word of encouragement for you de_axeman ....

Jesus told a parable in Matthew 25 to illustrate how we would be evaluated by our heavenly Father. It is known as the Parable of the Talents. In the story a rich man went on a journey and entrusted differing amounts of money to his servants. When he returned, he rewarded the servants based on their faithfulness, not their success. He said to the faithful ones, "Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master." One had gained more than the other, but both were rewarded for their faithfulness. If we would receive this kind of reward, we must be faithful, whether we are leading 8, 80 or 800 young people in our churches! Smile

Quote:It doesnt matter where you are though. Church is a celebration of Christ, and no matter where you are celebrating it, it is still a celebration nonetheless...

I'd agree to this to a certain degree, HOWEVER, if this statement implies that it's OK to go "church-hopping" and attend other church youth groups on a sporadic basis (depending on what program or activity they're offering), then I would have to strongly disagree with you. I think it's really important for each of us to identify ourselves with a local church as a COMMITTED member. In being a committed member of a church, you make a commitment to one another, to love one another, to share with one another, to care for one another and to grow with one another. It is a commitment to become a participant, not a spectator; a contributor, not merely a consumer.
#6
haha.. yeah thats true.. what im saying there is that there is no need for me to go somewhere "better" because it doesnt really matter where or how im celebrating Christ, as long as i am celebrating it. Thats why i dont feel the need to go church hopping..
#7
Thanks for the encouragement and advice - I'm really challenged now to spend more time with our youth, outside of our normal church activities. I guess building relationships is never easy, and it's going to be hard changing the 'seeker-oriented' mentality of our youth, but I'm gonna give it a go! Smile
God has placed me on earth to accomplish certain things.
Right now, I am so far behind that I will never die.
  


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