Note: If this is your first time reading “Dear Youth Pastor,” please read this post first.
Dear Youth Pastor:
I know that you usually answer questions from other youth pastors, but I thought maybe you might take the time to read my letter and answer it. I am a tenth grade girl, and I attend a small church in my town. I’ve spent my whole life in this church. My mom and dad dedicated me there when I was a baby, I accepted Jesus when I was six during a Sunday school lesson, and I was baptized on Easter Sunday when I was seven. And when I started sixth grade, I became a part of our youth group.
I love my youth group. We meet most Sunday afternoons, and usually there are about six junior and senior high students total. Our church can’t afford to hire a youth pastor, but for the past two years, a teacher at my high school who goes to our church has led our youth group. He’s got a job and a family, but he always finds time to plan a great lesson and attend my dance recitals. The only time he’s ever missed a youth group was when his son was born! And there may not be a lot of youth at our church, but we’re family. When my grandma died last year, everyone in our youth group missed school and drove two hours to be at the funeral. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
A few weeks ago, a friend from school invited me to go to his church’s youth group on a Wednesday night. I love church, so I decided to try it out. Everyone was really nice, but it was a lot bigger than I was used to. There were more teenagers in their worship band than we have in our entire church! I had a lot of fun, the leaders were really interested in getting to know me, and the message was really good (I cried, but don’t tell anyone!). But I like my youth group, so I didn’t go back. My friend keeps inviting me back every week, though. He says that he doesn’t know why I like my youth group so much; he say’s it’s “boring.” I guess he doesn’t get the fact that we’re family, even if only two of us show up some weeks. What can I tell him?
Steadfast in Sterling
Thanks for writing in. I’m always happy to take some time to answer a letter from an adoring teenage fan!
This may not be what you want to hear, but I’m going to have to side with your friend on this one. I mean, youth group isn’t about family. It’s about entertainment! To give you a little insight on the inner workings of youth ministry, let me share with you some advice I always give youth pastors who are looking to attract more students: the only way to be a true youth ministry is to put on as good of a show as you can. This is why I tell larger youth ministries who want to focus on small groups so that they can create more “community” that community is NOT where it’s at. If you put on a good show, no one’s going to care about “community,” “discipleship,” or any other silly notions youth pastors sometimes come up with.
I think you’ll be a lot happier when you start to understand that following Jesus means entertained as much as possible. I mean, did Jesus ever focus on silly things such as how his followers loved each other, or did he ever take a break from reaching the masses to just focus on a few of his followers? Of course not! You’re free to go to whatever church you want to, but remember: there’s only one right kind of youth group, and one right way to do youth ministry.