Church Youth Group Emphasis

Should a church youth group be social or spiritual in focus? We're involved in a heated dispute about this at our church. There are two schools of thought. One group thinks that a high school youth group should be primarily spiritual in emphasis, focusing on Bible study, prayer, and outreach or service projects. The rest of us feel that this may be too much, since the kids are already participating in Sunday school and worship services. We'd rather see the weekday youth group organized around social activities, such as mini-golf outings, volleyball games, coffee house gatherings, and time to "hang out" with other Christian teens. The "spiritual" crowd is giving us a lot of flak about this. Is it wrong for a church youth group to be primarily social in purpose?

It’s not “wrong” for a church youth group to sponsor teen gatherings which are merely social in nature and which have no connection with service or Bible study – provided, of course, that your students have plenty of other opportunities to receive serious spiritual input and to reach out to the community with the love of Christ. After all, “social” events can play an important role in building the fellowship of God’s people. And fellowship is the indispensable context for meaningful spiritual training as well as the necessary prerequisite for all effective outreach.

As we see it, there’s something else at stake here besides the “wrongness” or “rightness” of fun social events for teens. The bigger issue you’re facing has to do with conflict resolution. Somehow you need to get your two “schools of thought” on the same page. We suggest you concentrate on arranging a meeting where everyone can sit down together and air their differences. Then work out a plan that’s acceptable to all concerned. It would be best to do this under the guidance and supervision of pastoral leadership. In the final analysis, everything depends upon the needs, desires, interests, and spiritual maturity of the individual kids who participate in the group.

If you think it might be helpful to discuss this issue at greater length, call us. Our staff of pastoral counselors would love to speak with you over the phone.


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Youth Specialties

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