By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
The ideal purpose for youth group is to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. Do all youth groups succeed at this? No, and that’s ok. Here’s a reason why: The church is supposed to pursue this goal and the youth group is one of the ministries supporting it. That’s why I am confident that youth group is important at Trinity. The highest priority at Trinity is to make disciples. We pursue this through growing in knowledge of Christ, worshiping as a faith community, loving one another, and serving the greater community for the transformation of the world.
Therefore, there are a few things that I keep in mind as youth leader to ensure that we are supporting the overall mission of the church.
Vision and Purpose: Is the youth group aligned with the vision and purpose of the church? Do we have other agendas? In some churches, the youth group feels like a separate entity rather than a natural extension of the church. The staff and I try our best to be on the same page so that anyone serving or participating in youth group experiences unity.
Rhythm and Flow: Is the youth group aligned with the schedule of the church and also with the greater McLean community? We want to be counter-cultural, but do not want to compete needlessly with the flow of society and especially with the church. Many times I’ve been at churches where different ministries were competing for the participation of the same people. This lack of planning placed ministry leaders at odds with one another. In terms of being mindful of the McLean community, this will help us to coordinate rather than antagonize.
Integration: Is the youth group helping teens integrate with the church? Are they asked to volunteer for VBS? Are they encouraged to participate in the greater church events and programs? I see all of Trinity’s activities as part of the youth group’s program; the Wednesday dinners, choirs, work day, missions, children’s education, etc. I want our youth to feel that they belong at Trinity rather than become a subgroup that meets at its own time and schedule pursuing their own goals.
These three things are very important not only in developing a healthy youth group but also helping teens integrate into society as adults. If they have a positive and encouraging experience at church, I pray and hope that they will transfer those skills and experiences to thrive in institutions in their future.