We homeschool our three children. Now that the oldest one has turned 13, we feel under some pressure for him to participate with the church youth and their weekend retreats. I don’t want him to feel left out, but I do feel strongly about his father and I still being the primary influence in his life. Thank you for helping us get this far.
We get thousands of letters from our readers and have counseled many. I have known very few parents who feel that their church’s youth group is beneficial. I have heard hundreds say, “The youth group or retreat is where we lost our children or where my daughter, who had never been kissed, got pregnant. It was the youth director that first introduced my son to porn, “etc.” In our counseling, many adults have told me that they lost their virginity on a church-sponsored event and even on the church property. I wish I could write a different story, but we base much of our knowledge on what our readers tell us.
You must create a social circle for your children. It may be limited to just one or two other families who share your world-view, for you can be sure that when a handful of teenagers get together, at least one of them is going to introduce corruption to the others. We never allowed our children to stay overnight with other kids. When they wanted to go down to the local church on Saturday night to skate, Mike went with them. We never allowed them to go to parties unless one of us was there. We created our own fun that was far more exciting than the church gatherings. They never felt they were missing anything
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I agree 100%. I think the time youth groups could be beneficial is when the home life is much less than ideal. I have a 14 and 12 yo and we try to spend all our social time as a family. We are very selective about our children's activities, and we do get a lot of pressure to send our children to our church youth activities. I don't let it sway my feelings. Trust the spirit to guide you.
Teri, I agree with you and the Pearl's answer wholeheartedly. I have a 7 month old baby. My husband and I were just talking about this today. We feel that church youth groups can create feelings of independence from their fathers. We must turn the hearts of the children to their fathers...not to the "youth leader" on Friday night "services". Of which many that I attended in my recent youth, finished at 12 or 1 a.m.! God bless & keep you Teri & Pearl Family!
I couldn't disagree more! Good church youth groups are wonderful places for our teens to grow. For the most part church youth groups in good evangelical churches are lead by caring people. You as a parent have the responsibility to know those who lead these groups. To say< "I have known very few parents who feel that their church's youth group is beneficial," is a terrible misrepresentation of the majority. It only instills fear into already fear-focused parents. Church youth groups lead by godly people provide a good and necessary next step for our children to learn to apply the leasson we have been teaching about becoming adults, e.g., how to choose and make good friends, how to be a positive influence in the lives of friends whose faith needs strengthening, and how to stand for what you believe. Yes, there will be teens in these youth groups who may not share your perspective on life and faith. But if you restrict/control your teen's social life to "one or two other families who share your world-view" they will not have the opportunity to apply what you have been teaching them. By the time your teen is 16 going on 17 they need to be making many of their own decisions with you acting in an advisory capacity. Church youth group is a great place for your children to be launching from home. If you "over-parent" your teen through their young adult life they will fail to develop in their final stage of becoming a well-balanced Christian adult. Concerning the "hundreds who say they lost their children/virginity, etc., at a youth group activity, those parents need to re-evaluate their parenting and not blame a youth group activity. It is wrong to blame someone else or an outside condition/environment for the worng decision made by your teen. If you train up your child in the way they should go, that is the best protection against way-wardness. Yet, you CANNOT guarntee they will not make some wrong choices. I believe it is safe to say that Adam and Eve were the best parents ever with the best Advisor ever on parenting and their experience was to have one of their children murder his brother. My wife and I have raised five children through various public school districts throughout the U.S. One in Oregon located in a county that, at the time, raised the most Marijuana in the states. What we as concerned parents did was work with the school district to put in place a mandatory drug test in the school. Yes, the ALCU fought it and it was taken all the way to the US Supreme court where we won. The result was that many teens wrote letters in the follow years thanking us as parents for carrying enough to do the right thing. Many declared that we saved their lives. All this to say that in our experience in raise our five children we chose to help them have influence in their friends lives instead of withdrawing from the world. Of our five children three are married, we have five grand children, another is engaged and the last is a junior in college. They are all walking with the Lord and have are involved in various ways, influencing their world for the Lord. And, yes, some of them were very involved in their church youth groups. Actually, when our two older boys were teens our church was too small to have an active youth group and we feel they struggled for not having a group available. Each of our other three teens were strengthen through their youth group participation. I know this is long, but just a final thought. It takes a parents continual participation in their teens lives as they learn to apply what they've been taught, right up through their older teen years. Help them work through their challenges, even the ones they may face at church youth group. Jesus prayed for even your teens, while they are "in" the world, and not to be kept "from" the world. I am a father and grandfather approaching 40 years in full-time pastoral ministry. I have an earned B.A. in Christian Education and an M. Div. in pastoral ministry. In all my years I have not experienced one terrible incident as mentioned/fear by parents. I have known of many terrible abuses that have gone on in families, even Christian families. Good church youth groups are good for your teens. Don't let fear back you away from "gathering together" as God's word commands (Heb 10:24,25). It is the devil who delights when Christian fail to gather. If you need to work through some concerns, feel free to contact me at [email protected]. God bless you and He will keep you!!!
Dear Pearl Family and readers,
I read this article a while back and couldn't agree more. My husband and I have been convicted over and over about letting our children be involved in youth groups, sunday school, childrens church and many more worldly groups. As homeschoolers, we homeschool to keep our children away from clicks and intimidating bus kids,
bullies, perverted kids and adults! I'm not saying every kid in church youth groups are bad but it only takes one to ruin the whole thing. Our eyes, minds, and hearts should be fixed upon the Lord not all the other things that don't really matter. So many good Christian families and that includes pastors families are pushed into these things and it's ruining them and confusing them. The Bible says Be ye separate!! We have seen good inocent christian preachers teenage daughters get sucked into this world of boyfriends and girlfriends in the youth group. We shouldn't want our children to feel pressured into these things! No christian parent should allow there teenage daughter to even have a boyfriend!!!
Yes! We are incharge ! Or did we forget! Our children are our responsibility! Don't be scared to be ye separate! The Lord will make a way for our children. Pray for them!
As I grow in the Lord and look back at the things I have done for Him, I am amazed. The more wisdom I gain of His righteousness enables me to see what filthy rags all "my" works are compared to His truth. None of the Youth groups I ever went to Admonished, Trained, or Disciplined me at all, even when I sought it out with sincerity. I was however offered drugs, and sex by the more spiritual members, along with rebellious advise from adults. These adults need to wake up and see their rags, they have been deceived in so many ways. The leaders thought some of these kids were so close to God, but they were sadly mistaken. They thought they were giving me Godly advice, but it was rebellious foolishness. My husbands stories are worse and we are 100% in agreement with God concerning our Children. We believe the Pearls are also 100% in their understanding of this problem. Open your eyes the eternal souls and lives of children are at stake!
I agree. there are people that say that youth group isn't bad and its true I've seen good come from it but i've also seen the bad side of it. my parents were youth group sponsers when i was younger and the kids that at that time were being molded by the youth pastor are, I think, worse off because of it. also, about 5 years ago I went to youth group and I know from experiance that its not a place I would want my children if I had any. kids don't nesecarily want their parents with them when they are in youth group and even in a small group the adults don't know every thing that goes on. thankyou for advising parents not to allow their children go to youth group. you wouldn't let your kids do drugs if they wanted or hang around those that did so why let them hang around anyone that walks into the youth room?
My husband and I work full-time as youth leaders. I am so thankful that the parents of the teens in our church do not share these feelings that most of you do. we understand 100% that we are not their parents and that we are trying to open up a relationship between teens that have started to close thier parents off. We need to very be careful about demonizing everyone except few and far between. Yes you should protect your kids! But I do not think protecting them form someone who is ther to reinforce your position as a parent is always the smartest thing to do. I feel bad that there are some youth leaders out there that are bad. I had one growing up that really hurt our some people and caused a church split. That gaveme all the more reason to be different and be the person that the parents want us to be.
My husband just became the youth minister at our church. However, our church is moving toward family intergration and away from the age-segregated model. I have worked in this ministry and at another church volunteering, teaching whatever class my daughter was in for the last 9 years. I have found that most parents do not get involved with the youth ministry but use it a babysitting service. Very few of the kids are biblically literate, even those attending on a regular basis, which tells me they are not being taught biblically at home. I am not sure how my church will make the transition but our pastor has seen the lack of retentention of young adults and has been moved to switch gears. I praise God that I have found this ministry and others and passed information along to my husband who will have great influence in the shape the new "youth department" takes. God Bless you Pearls!
I have to respectfully disagree. It was my youth pastor who was very straightforward with me as a teen, and he had an impact on my life that to this day I praise the Lord for! I had a good relationship with my parents, and I had a good relationship with my youth group. I was able to wittness to my other high school aged friends, and it made me feel like I was a part of the kingdom of God, which of course I was.
Teens are very special people! Please do not insist that they stay by their parents heels.. I have seen more kids shattered with overbearing and protective parents, than I would even want to mention. Kids have a desire to be independant. In fact, the whole idea of "teenage" is very modern. We teach kids to stay inmature longer, when they should be ready to be on their own. When they are forced into a period in life that never used to exist, can you blame them for feeling a little out of ballance?
All of this to say, don't throw out the youth groups. It was God's intervention in my life.
What kind of church do these people go to?? Don't throw the baby out with the bath water, please. Get to know the youth leaders & the events. Be involved! But this can be a great resource for a child. see http://thewaythingsshouldbechildcare.blogspot.com/2007/06/childrens-church-to-send-or-not-to-send.html for why.
Based on our experiences there is basically no "safe" place for our teens. Sin is in every and all churches. Until the blessed return of our Savior we will have to deal with the awful ramifications of sin in this world.
My husband grew up in a youth group environment and knew it was NOT what he wanted for his children. In the past we chose churches and fellowships that did not have youth groups, where there were homeschooling families, etc. The activities were always family oriented, with whole families gathered, etc. However, even in this environment a young man was found to be sexually molesting not only his sister, but other young girls in the church. All while playing hide-and-seek or flashlight tag....with parents playing as well. Also in this environment my teenage daughter was introduced to anorexia. There wasn't ONE slightly overweight teen girl in the church...this put tremendous pressure on my oldest daughter, who quickly realized to be accepted there you had to be super thin. Also, in this environment there was more than one situation where teens were found drinking, and/or sexually active.
So....I guess that's why I find it hard to agree or disagree. In ANY setting sin will be present. Lord Jesus come quickly!!
We have been the youth leaders at our church for the past 6 years and have a great group of kids. We are so thankful that the Lord put us in the ministry to serve. We are very involved with them and have activites often. We strongly feel that the teens of today need a good youth group to attend. As far as the parents being involved we think it's great too. We encourage our parents to come and be apart of our activites and Wednesday night services. There have been parents who have felt they need to be present in some of our activites and services because their teen was going through a "trial" period with their parents. We think thats great that they are involved and know what's going on in their kids lives. God has richly blest us with a wonderful church family who are raising godly young men and women to serve Christ and we are feel so priviledged to be apart of that.
We recently have had several teens come on our bus whose parents to not attend and they do not have these godly leading partents that the others have, but we are SO thankful God has brought them to us to teach. God can use them too. This is were you have to be careful and keep a very watchful eye on your youthgroup. We are very open with our teens parents and what is going on in our class.
I would encourage all parents to get your teens involved in a good youth group but be involved yourself!
Warriors for Christ
I agree totally. I grew up in youth groups and found that very few kids were actually christians. Mostly it was a place that everyone let their kid go to (because it was at church, after all) and there was little supervision. One "youth leader" per 10 to 15 kids is not good supervision. I know that at my conservative, evangelical, small town, church, youth group, out of about 15 girls there were only two of us that were virgins (ages 15 to 17) and we only remained that way by learning defensive manuevers!! Some people say that you can't "smother" your children and keep them from making their own choices forever, but there is a responsiblity as a parent to guard them against situations for which they are not prepared to handle or even shouldn't have to be prepared to handle. That's almost like saying that you should let toddlers play in traffic so that they learn that it could be dangerous. After all many adults struggle with sexual issues, alcohol and drugs, why should we just hand over our even less prepared kids to the same temptations.
I want a family integrated model of ministry for the church I attend. While I do not have teens yet and I can't speak on the issue of youth ministry as to being bad or good, but I can say that I see no evidence in the Bible for Youth Ministry. In Acts 2:42-47 where the fellowship of the believers in addressed, I see no age segregation. In all cases everyone was together. It states in v43, "Everyone was filled with awe," in v44, "All the believers were together," and v46,"they continued to meet together."
I simply see no Biblical evidence for age segregation. A family should fellowship together, learn together, and worship together.
With much prayer, we have recently decided to pull our daughter from youth group. Though we have never belonged to one before, I had guilt issues when we recently moved and thought it would be a safe way to foster new friendships (telling myself that the groups of MY youth were just unfortunate churches and not the norm). In the one year we have allowed this, her attitude has suffered.
I have always been skeptical of these gatherings, as I once was a participant and I can attest that the LAST thing we did was learn about the Bible....mostly it was an opportunity for us teens to humor our leaders, then ditch them to participate in more "fun" activities, including smoking, making out, encouraging one another's rebellion...etc....
I do not think our leaders are bad, but they have this romantic idea of saving the kids and the kids loving them for it....Honestly, in most cases, kids are only there because they are made to be. Those who claim to have "reached" a child through youth group....Fabulous! Ask yourself this....was that child's homelife already a mess? Were you offering something BETTER than where he came from? What about a child from a home where love, teaching of the Word, and family togetherness abound? My hunch is the "saving" and "reaching" aspect is much less frequent. The same ideas that would possibly help the unfortunate child (segregation, independence, relying on yourself-since the parents arent around-) aren't great for the child that already has those things.
Family is important, working together and respecting the individuals God has given into your household are important. What I have noticed from my teen in the last year is an air of rebellion. Her behavior upon returning from these meetings is often worse when she returns to her family, as if we are unenlightened buffoons and her siblings only "cramp" her style. The ideas perpetuated in this environment are those of disrespectful independence. I do believe the youth pastor (meaning well, Im sure) specifically stated to our teens that "your parents need to learn to trust you and understand that not all teens are causing problems" Sounds innocent enough, until my previously docile daughter begins accusing her parents of "not trusting her" to "make important decisions about her OWN life". Now instead of being partners with her, we are being demonized as outsiders and "not with the times". Her life is being marketed as HER OWN...not GOD'S. They are inadvertently training her to "lean on her own understanding"....
Is this the fault of the youth leaders? Maybe...but in their ignorance, I do think they want whats best for the kids. In my opinion, though, whats best is a strong parental relationship, which is not being forged in this particular youth group. I will go back to multi-generational, whole family worship, thank you very much.
I grew up in a Christian home and attended church whenever the doors were open. I was present at every youth group event since a few months before I was old enough to be in the youth group. I did love having our "own thing" at the time. I remembered just the other day that some of my youth group friends and I used to joke about all the things that happened on buses for school trips and the church van on youth group trips. We would say that "if people onIy knew what went on on the back of the bus/van...". I unfortunately remember that MOST of my encounters with boys, even the very first, was on a youth trip. The LORD has saved me and washed all those sins away, but I still have a memory. Now I am married to an amazing Godly husband, and we have decided to not have our daughter participate in the youth group unless one of us is able to be there as well. My past experience, which is not very uncommon, helped us to make this choice. Thank you soooooo much for your Godly stand even when it isn't popular at all. I think we all know that truely living to please God guarentees you unpopularity. I would also like to ask Teri and any others to speak with your grown children and ask if they've ever had experiences with the opposite sex( or these days the same sex) while part of there youth groups.
Wow. It's amazing how much judgment comes out in the Pearl's response. As a youth pastor, I can assure you that of the thousands of youth who have passed through the doors of our church in the last 8 years, NONE of them have even come close to getting pregnant! I laugh at this, no one even is allowed to touch each other! Your advice drives parents to FEAR and fear is not of the Lord, it is of the enemy. It promotes distrust in God and I believe you are gravely wrong.
There are MANY unscrupulous people in the church, of this there is no question unfortunately. I think that the strongest point to be made here is that parents need to know who they are entrusting their children to. If your youth leader is encouraging the teens to disagree with their parents then why hasn't that been brought to the head pastor of that church to be addressed? At our home church there is a FABULOUS youth program. The leaders are parents themselves (A point I think is ESSENTIAL!) and are strong Christians who live their faith (another essential). The evening is comprised of lesson time and fun group activities. The kids are expected to sit, listen and be resepectful and PARTICIPATE in the instruction. They are expected to be kind and encouraging to the other kids and respectful of the adults. It is a place where teens are able to spend time with other people their own age who are encountering the same difficulties and gain experience as to how they can best deal with that, guidance from adults and other teens who are farther along in their walk are helping these kids become stronger in living their faith. If a girl (or boy) is misbehaving at a youth function that isn't really the fault of the youth program is it? WE are commanded to train up our children, not the youth group. When I was a teen I was involved in my church's youth group and while I was involved in things "outside" that I shouldn't have been I would NEVER have dreamed of bringing those things into the youth group. So maybe where these parents first need to look is at the lessons they are teaching at home. If you are training your children correctly at home this won't be an issue...they will be the ones helping the troubled youth find a better way to deal with the situations they are encountering in their life. And if there are situations that need to be dealt with then the thing to do would be to go to the leader or pastor and say "I have a problem with ..." they are not perfect or all seeing, they would probably appreciate your concern adn the information. If you are participating in a church with a strong youth program it is a wonderful way for your children to grow in love and faith. If you are participating in a church with an unhealthy youth program...why? If you have children you should be finding a church that encourages them and grows them in all manners. When we moved away from our home church we went to different churches in order to find one that had a children's program that we were excited for our children to be a part of. If as we attend we find that there are things that don't meld with what we are teaching our children at home we will discuss it with our children, the youth leaders and the pastor. If its not a concern for the church we will change churches. Its that simple. You can't grow in fear, you must grow in love. Telling people that every youth group is an unhealthy place to allow your children to be is the same as the nonbelievers who say that all Christian are hypocrites and judgmental. Its wrong and unfair. I hope that the people who are truly SEARCHING for a great place for their children to have this type of involvement will not be discouraged by your prejudices and blanket statements. I normally agree wholeheartedly with what you are teaching but this response from you made me very disappointed. May God continue to bless you and your ministry. May He also help you to see that you may not be right in this response and enlighten you to the positive aspects of MANY church youth groups in the country and the great disservice you have done to them.
I feel that Sunday School is ok and even Wednesday night youth class, assuming that the teachers are God fearing leaders and I prefer husband and wife and the class should be inside the church building, this is a time when youth can be together and explore the Bible. However, youth activities outside the church doors and outside of the service times are another story. My oldest of 3 is 7yrs. She is not yet old enough for most of these get-to-gethers. My husband and I have decided that she will not be allowed to go anywhere that we are not welcome to go with her. No overnighters, why do Christian youth need to stay up all night and out all night when they could do an all day gathering, where the parents could participate. I also think that by youth leaders being confidential go to people, that they are taking the parents place and drawing the kids away from talking to their parents and mostly to avoid "getting in trouble or a lecture". I was in a couple youth groups, and I'm not saying that it is always the leaders wrong doing, but lets face it leaders can't control or moniter every word, action, youth or circumstance. Did I mention that my husband and I mostly headed up the youth committee at our church for 6 yrs. We got so tired and frustrated with the other members being too liberal and getting over stepped by some members who thought all night lockins and co-ed swim parties were a good idea. We decided that we would never allow our children to participate in that group so we got off the committee. We still currently teach a class on Wed nights (I teach the teenage girls and he has the guys) but we are just burnt out. The youth just don't care it seems like and they only come to socalize and the sad part is that the worst ones are the ones whose parents come. Pray for us; we want to give up our classes and focus more on our children, but no one is willing to take our places. Any advice?
I really appreciate all of the discussion on this site. I read many of the comments on this article, but I admit that I
I disagree, as well. If we are talking about training our children, by the time they reach the teenage years shouldn't they be making more decisions on their own? Shouldn't we have equiped our children enough by then that they KNOW what is right and wrong. I was a homeschooled pastor's child. I attended children's church and youth group and played every day outside with the "worldly" neighborhood children. I NEVER even wanted to try drugs, porn, alcohol, or cigarettes... I knew what was right and wrong. Was I tempted in certain areas? Yes! We all are and if we sheild our children too much we teach them and unhealthy dependecy instead of shaping them into responsible, mature adults who can make wise decisions. We must teach them reality. Show them the side effects of living a sinful life. Show them the bessings of living a life that is glorifying to God. Teach them BY EXAMPLE to love the Lord with all their heart so that they will hate the sin which nailed Jesus on the cross and when sin is offered to them they will reject it- not because mom and dad said "no" and you must obey them, rather because they love their Savior and above all they desire to honor Him. This is how my parents trained my brother, sister and myself. We all gave our hearts to the Lord as children, never turned away from him. Now we are all married have our own children and are in full time ministry. My sister and I are missionaries to Croatia and my brother is an assisant pastor. This just goes to prove that its not a youth group, children's ministry or even public school that is going to "ruin" your children. It is a lack of proper training and in many parents a lack of zeal for God. Train your children to obey, YES! Why? Because their Savior comands it! It all comes down to this.
I must say from personal experience that youth groups, for the most part, are a bad idea. I cannot speak for all churches. But when I first got saved when I was 16, I was so excited when I heard about "youth group". I thought, "Wow! A bunch of people excited about God that are my age, to pray with, study with, and encourage in the Word!?" I couldn't wait to go! And when I got there, I couldn't wait to leave. It was a bunch of kids together for the soul purpose of goofing off before and after a "Bible lesson". I was a newborn Christian who took studying the Scriptures, walking by the Spirit and obeying the Lord very seriously... and these "church kids" didn't walk in the truth, didn't encourage others to walk in the truth and didn't even read the Bible. I tried going to be an encouragement to others. And finally, after much prayer, I had to leave because it was effecting my own walk with the Lord for the worse. I had other friends who struggled with the same thing at the time.
I understand that many churches do this to "reach out" to the youth. The best outreach for the youth is to get them around the believers that have experience. Intermingle the generations. Don't separate them. When I left youth group, I started going to the adult Bible studies and looked for older mentors who had something to offer. It helped me to grow in wisdom because I was able to learn from their testimonies, life experiences and knowledge of the Lord.
I would like to say that I am so thankful that God has placed our family in a church where the leadership absolutely practices what is preached from the pulpit, and our youth director and his wife live a life that is above reproach, as do all the staff of our church. Not to say that they they are perfect, none of us are, but they are godly people, and good friends of our family. Our church youth group does not regularly have overnight get-togethers, but when they do, the boys camp out and the girls are in a completely different location, doing "girly" stuff. The teens in our church sit in the front 5 rows, directly in front of the pulpit, where our pastor freely and frequently preaches directly to them. The teens in our church are servants, and leaders in their own right. Our girls dress modestly and our boys dress like men. I am proud of our church youth group and am excited for the day when our children are able to participate and receive encouragement from Christian friends. We homeschool all three of our children, and are so thankful that they can have friends that we approve of through our church family. Maybe, instead of so many people being down on youth groups, they should consider finding a church that knows how to cultivate and develop godly, respectful teenagers.
I must also respectfully disagree that youth groups are places of corruption for our teens.
I believe that the examples given here of drugs, sex, etc are, while unfortunate, very isolated, examples. I attended youth group as a teen and the impact our leaders had on us, to this day still impacts my life. Youth camps were times of deep spiritual renewal and commitment - and the impact of those times is still felt in my life today.
As one person stated, if a child chose to participate in sinful activity in a church youth group, the culprit is NOT the youth group (or any group at all). You cannot isolate your children from every form of evil in this world. What you CAN do and MUST do is teach your children how to stand for righteousness in the face of evil.
Isn't that what we read in the Bible??? God didn't isolate Israel from the pagan and godless nations around her - she didn't huddle in a cave somewhere fearing the evil influences of the idolatrous nations - she defeated evil by the help of Almighty God! In every instance, when we read of God's people rising to victory we see that they marched forward in the power and might of Almighty God and brought His truth and power to bear in the midst of wickedness.
Would it not be a greater testimony to the world that we would train our children, preteens, and teenagers to take a strong and vocal moral stand in the midst of corruption - to influence their ungodly peers to do the same - bringing the light and truth of God to bear in this corrupt cesspool of generation we see that is addicted to Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and all other kinds of moral depravity we have as role models for our children?? To bring a revolution of morality and righteousness once again? Would that not be a greater testimony than us huddling in our homes out of fear that our children will be defiled by a mere touch of someone who is "worldly"?
This is what is termed monasticism - and every time the church went monastic moral depravity, paganism, and darkness ruled because the church CEASED being the church - a light in the world. They huddled together fearful of being defiled.
"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." - you do not have to fear defilement because you will have the ability to shake it off and, in fact, bring the light of God's Word and His Holy Spirit to bear in the situation and turn it around for His glory and honor.
Jesus didn't remain huddled in the manger - no! He went and touched the demon possessed, immoral, cheaters - He touched the lame, blind, and leprous, He loved the unlovely, and against the moral and cultural code of the day even *gasp* spoke with an adulterous woman. And didn't rebuke them - but loved them and through by loving them and instructing them about what is right and godly showed them the way to the Father.
We cannot extend Christ's kingdom on earth and win the lost by remaining huddled in our homes with a "social circle of just a few". If our social circle does not extend to the unsaved how can we be an influence for the Christ Jesus??
Isn't that, after all, why we are place here on this earth? Are we not all missionaries - bringing the light of Jesus Christ to a dark world??
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
I envision the youth ministry as an outreach for those children who do not have spiritual guidance. Because God has placed us in a family, I believe that we should listen in church as a family. Their are Christians outside the church that pour into their children's lives also. Because I came to the Lord when my children where 6yo and 10yo, they were not ready to confront temptations or afflictions from the lost who attended children's church and youth. We shouldn't have to compete with the world when we are trying to train our children. That's what we end up doing when youth leaders are trying to win the hearts of the lost and steal my child's by using treats, goodies, expensive ski and beach trips, etc. As parents we should be training and equiping our children so that they can teach and share what they learn. If you can teach and share, it's in there good.
I have to agree with the Pearls. We as parents have an obligation to protect our children. The reason we throw them to youth groups is because the "world" says they will not be socially stable if we keep them near us. Why can't we take our example from the bible....families stayed together. When the children were old enough, they had their own tents, but, they were still in the same vicinity of their parents. Only in America do we live by this creed that a child is grown at 18. Most parents do not prepare their children to meet the terrors in this world; yet, at 18 we expect this miraculous metamorphasis to take place. I don't buy into the American Dream because it does not exist....our children need their godly parents to hold their hand until they reach maturity. I give all the glory to God for allowing me to receive this revelation before I dropped the ball with my children. I will not let my kids intermingle with any kids that are not being raised in a christian home....that includes all relatives also. And guess what? I am a youth leader in my church. My kids can sing in the choir with the others, but, that is as for as it goes. The other kids parents' are not Christians. Those kids can swear, have full access to the internet, and have cell phones. Parents please pray and let the Holy Ghost lead you when it comes to your children...because you don't want to wake up one day and your child that has been raised by two saved parents is indulging in pornography daily right under your own roof. Put the word of God in them, not over or around them. Be Blessed!
While I understand the point being made, I feel that it is important to not subject ourselves to narrow mindedness. While I have personally witnessed many people "go wrong" on excursions with youth groups, I have seen the flip side too. There are important questions to ask, such as "Can I be the influence instead of being influenced?" If this question can be answered in the affirmative confidently, then I would not discourage the situation. Who knows- your child might even be able to help someone else stay away from temptation. Another important area of youth groups is realizing that "youth groups" are NOT bad. Generalization has put many people into bad predicaments. While some youth groups may have problems and be inappropriate, don't generalize! Look at each scenario in a case by case way and determine if it is something God would approve of. I feel that it is essential for youth to surround themselves by Christian youth, conservative when possible. Teens need edification as much as anyone else and need to learn to stand on their own in midst of others. God bless!
I led a youth ministry at one time as something happened with the youth minister we did have. Two others of us picked up the slack. We had church members saying that they were only coming for the hot dogs we served or "Just take them outside and play basketball with them. Their coming here just gives them a safe place to come and keeps them off the streets." I tried to find useful youth material. There was not much that met what these children needed. I used the Bible, of all things, to teach them, and received criticism for not using an "approved" resource. (Huh?) One day, I was running late for work and decided to take the advice given by the elderly church leaders and let them play basketball. We had a van ministry and on the drive home, one of the young men (who needed this the most because of his horrible home life filled with drug use and dealing - I found out later - by his parents) said, "I come to youth to learn about God, not to play basketball. I can do that anytime." That was what I needed to know - that they were hearing the word of God and learning. We reached out in the community by going and visiting nursing homes and through other activities. I helped plan a mission trip for the youth. Several of the youth and other adults participated and some experienced growth through that, others did not. I would not lead them to a retreat for the very reasons that the Pearls listed. I also did not like the grouping by age, but we did have middle school and up in one group and elementary in another because of difficulties with some of the students and also because it was easy to see the elementary girls with crushes on high school boys and the girls flirting with the boys. As the school included all ages, I could not control what went on at school, but we could address that at church. When my son was a teenager, we did permit him to go to youth group. After football games, they had 5th Quarter activities. There were a couple of times when students from a neighboring town came to start fights - at church! It is sad that the Bible is not taught at home by many people. As we do teach the Bible at home, for my daughters, we will not participate in activities for children unless we can be there the majority of the times. I do not believe in using church as an ethical babysitting service. I am also disappointed at some of the youth retreats that encourage the youth to eat disgusting things and then video-taping them throwing up to release their inhibitions and to get them to all come down to the same level. Back at school, the same thing happens, it's when kids have parties with alcohol and encourage their friends to drink and to do so to excess to fit in. My son is led to youth ministry. That is not my desire for him, but God is in charge. If, through his experiences, he can change the life of a student for God who can grow into a godly man or woman who does teach his or her child the Bible because they see that as important, it is better than not giving them any knowledge of the Bible because their own parents don't bother to take them to church or talk to them about the Bible. Am I ambiguous, yes. I believe that God can use these things for His glory, but as parents, we must be involved in our children's lives and know what is going on and draw the line when things go over the boundaries. The dilemma is that there are youth leaders who add to the sense of antagonism to Christian families who are active but do not agree with certain youth activities. That adds unacceptable tension to families and undermines the parents' authority. This does happen. If your congregation offers youth ministry, be involved with the youth board and with the children if you think it is beneficial for your children to participate. If your congregation does not offer it, but a local congregation does and you'd like to allow your child to participate, be involved with that congregation's youth board as an ex oficio member and participate in the activities. Know what things are planned beforehand so that your child is not swept up in something that goes against your views only to cause problems. As I feel that most people reading this are from Christian families who do teach the Bible to their children, follow the Pearls' advice and invite families with similar values to your home (or go to their home) to have appropriate Christian activities. Above all, be present and active in the child's life to be guide that child. There are so many new feelings, temptations, experiences coming at children during these teenage years that the impulse to go along and fit in makes it hard to nearly impossible to guide them, talk to them, and help them understand how to make wise choices in the way they should go if you are not consistently present and active in their lives. I do agree with teaching them to be young adults all along, but also, as a parent, it is our job to accept responsibility for being a parent as long as we are responsible for our child.
I would not send my children to a youth group for the same reason I would not send them to a Christian school. (And never, ever, to a public school) Simply, that the last thing teens need is an age segregated peer group. The damage that can be done is incalculable, and all the more dangerous because often it is subtle. I am not talking about drugs and sex. So many people seem to say, "well, I never got pregnant, never did drugs, never smoked or stole, so my experience in youth group/school did me no harm." May I say that there is a lot more to developing Christian character than such a list?
I would like to echo what someone else said about first show me the scripture to support it, and I'll reconsider. The idea of age-segregation has only been around for maybe the last hundred years. No, your child does NOT 'need' children his own age. If you are in a local fellowship where there is another child his age, and they become close, wonderful. There's nothing wrong with that; the problem is in the mindset that that is a 'need', and if you don't have it where you are at you had better go seek it out. But especially grouping large numbers of similar-aged-children together with only one or two adults is very destructive. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him." (I'm sorry, I can't remember the reference, although I know it's in Proverbs, and I am quoting it from memory so it may not be word perfect) Permit me to paraphrase; children are born fools and it is only through the training of the parents that they can grow in wisdom. Also, "he who walks with the wise shall be made wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." My father always likes to say, when you put fools together, foolishness will occur. Children, and also teens, do NOT need to be grouped together by age. They WILL breed foolishness. Now, that being said, I do not mean to imply that your child or teen should NEVER be in company with someone, or even a group, of people their own age. Occasionally it is all very well. It is the regular grouping that is dangerous. My parents did not send their children to Sunday school, children's church or youth group. But we never lacked for friends or social interaction. We never lacked for challenge and stimulation as growing Christians. Especially by the time we reached our teens, my parents had us take part in every Bible study, Sunday school, or sermon that they went to.
The term 'teen' can be a stumbling block, in that in encourages the idea that teens are their own group. A person is either a child or an adult. Yes, the transition is sometimes bumpy, and is not defined by age, and will be reached by different people at different times, but there are only two categories. You never see 'adults' categorized by age, do you? "Okay, the 20-30 year olds will be in this classroom, the 40-50 year olds over here, etc."
One person at least commented that it was her youth group that led her to Christ. While I rejoice in her salvation, and do not mean to cast any aspersions on the well-meaning, kind and generous youth group leaders that are out there, and that I have known, I must respectfully point out that the use of something for good does not make it right. God can take anything and use it, but we can not use that as a justification, for did not Joseph say in Genesis that what man intended for evil God used for good? I think none of us would argue that kidnapping and slavery is therefore okay.
Growing up in 'the church', and participating in youth activities then, and seeing what our church has now - no regular meeting, but occasional get togethers (which do not go passed midnight) with Godly leaders in charge. There is a world of difference. We firmly believe in the parents do the training of the children (that's why we all homeschool) but we also know that occasional youth functions are very beneficial. The biggest things to remember is balance, and discernment. We have absolutely NO problems with our young people, and very very few have ever left the church.
We have been greatly blessed by ultimately being family oriented with the Sunday School, Children's Church, and Youth meetings being a secondary thing.
With balance I believe it is possible to have a great family and a great church 'family'.
Thanks for this article because we as parents always need to think and pray for the youth and know when we need to step up to the plate.
At this time I would totally trust my young people to the youth leaders of out church for their occasional meetings, with, or without, my presence.
I plan to stay on top of what's going on and always 'be in the know.'
My husband and I are youth sponsers. Meaning we go to youth group, get to know the kids, teach classes, help the youth minister, ect. I will never send MY children to youth group, ever. My children go spend time with their grandma while my husband and I work with these kids. We've seen youth ministers council teens caught in sexual sins with- "everyone makes mistakes." We've caught several couples "making out" during youth group time. The youth minister we have now has turned youth group into boys have fun, and girls babysit his daughter while his wife is at work.
Many of the teens in our youth group are from the area, and not from the church. They just want a place to hang out. So we (my husband and I) decided to give our time to teach them as much as we can, and hope that some of it sticks with them.
Our children, on the other hand, have this knowledge already. They aren't lost souls looking for a savior. They don't need to be thrown in with kids with few morals, and hope they don't drown. We will try to reach the lost kids, but I don't need to lose mine in the process. We also don't need a minister using our daughter for his own selfishness, and our son as his "buddy." He has a buddy, it's his dad, and they are a great team!
Come to think of it, I stopped believing in God my jr year of high school - the year I started going to my friend's youth group.
I am not going to say one way or another on youth group. I have seen some dynamic truly great things happen in youth group at a couple of churches I have been to and worked with the youth. Then there have been other churches where the youth ministry was terrible. One church I am thinking of called parents cryptonite. My children are 7 and 4 right now. I do not know if my husband and I will send them to youth group or not. Most likely it will depend on a few things-- suchas the attitude of the leaders and the group dynamic itself. I can assure you that my husband and I would be involved if we did choose to participate. We do need to guard the influences in the lives of our children so we need to check out their activities including at church and help them learn how to make choices for themselves.
I can understand the perspective of staying away from youth group. In my experience growing up in the church...there were plenty of the typical bad influences. Now, as a parent of five children I have and still do protect my children. my husband makes final decisions for where the children spend time and with whom. we take the approach of thinking through each opportunity (for socialization) as they came up. We have said no a lot...but we also say yes and prepare them by explaining the issues they may face and allowing them to go to an event..youth group thing, etc My oldest became very involved in a youth group of her choice when she was about 15 yrs old. She became commited to helping in leadership..and took interest in leading the younger girl's Bible studies, etc. She is now a college student and commited to the Lord..she is a joy to be around. My next oldest (now 15) has minimal interest in youth group (that is just his personality)... he is a boy to be trusted to stand for moral behavior and we'd let him go almost anywhere but he likes to hang around his younger brothers and Dad instead:) Anyway, my point is not to be overboard in our thinking. There are some church kids I'd prefer my kids not spend time with...not to mention some homeschool kids as well. In fact, one of the most upright and well mannered influences was a neighbor girl of a different religion than our family. Hmm!? Basically, I see church youth group as a place to gather...some what like an adult goes to church fellowship. My teenagers have brains in their heads..they can separate most of the good from the bad. We will continue to use judgement to always know what is going on with our kid's social environment.. My husband and I have learned to think things through without fearfulness. It helps to have seen God's continued protection through the years. God is the best parent! Your youth group may (or may not) have a place in being part of a healthy community and God will lead individual parents who ask Him for wisdom.
@Alison - Michael is speaking in general and what is the norm of the vast majority of youth groups. Those that focus on growth, ministry and service can be very beneficial to the willing participants in developing a heart and skills to continue doing it. Where the focus is on entertainment and self-gratification, youth groups just become a mirror of the world.
The Pearls say they are just going off what their readers tell them. Well, here's one for the pile, though I doubt it will change anybody's mind. These fear driven parents are afraid to send their child to youth group, but would never consider going themselves as chaperones so their child can learn to interact in a positive and Godly way with other people? My parents took an isolationist view like this for years, and guess what, it in no way prepared me for adulthood. The minute I could get out in my 20s (yes, that is the age of adulthood just about everywhere else on this planet) I was totally unprepared to deal appropriately with the opposite sex (which is really what all these parents are truly worried about). I made many sad mistakes before becoming wiser on my own. My husband grew up under the nurturing of a Godly youth group where parents of the church discipled and guided him, and he choose his choices wisely, and when he married me he was a virgin. If any set of parents believes they can equip a child fully for adulthood by themselves, they are in my opinion very arrogant. It takes a community! If your churches are such cesspools of sex drugs and porn, find a real church! Oh and I really am not trying to flame here, but most homeschooled kids I know (and I grew up in this movement) actually found porn in their Dad's internet history - not at youth group. I was no exception. So much for insulation. It's just the truth, unpleasant as it is.
@Megan - You are attempting to present your own limited experience as the norm. The article does state that there are few good youth groups but on average they are focused on entertainment and immediate gratification. These are the extremes that are being addressed. Those youth groups that are spiritual growth, ministry or service focused would be the exceptions. The Pearls are by no stretch of the imagination
In my opinion, we can't hide our children under a rock. If you can't trust your leaders in your church. You probably need to find a new church.
Youth Ministry isn't ONLY for spiritual development. It's also for friendships with your peers. Much like Church. If
In Acts we see that the believers were all gathered in one place. TOGETHER... This is about life. Our children need God experiences with their peers.
The majority of homeschool children who backslide are kids who were in a strict household. When they leave the "den" of family, they rebel.... Why not allow your kids to make mistakes and teac
Virginity is important, but sex education basically from cruch is more important.
Virginity is very important. I am not sure what you meant by "but sex education from cruch is more important", but sex education is very important, especially in helping to maintain sexual purity. I recommend the audio "Sex Education for Children" for parents of young children and the book Holy Sex, booklet To Betroth or Not to Betroth, and the audio Young Adults and Marriage for all parents. They are excellent tools to help parents in addressing the subject of sex with their children. Samuel Learns to Yell & Tell and Sara Sue Learns to Yell & Tell are good resources for parents to protect their children from sexual predators.