Growing up, my youth group was the highlight of my teen years. I made my best friends there. Every time the church doors were open, we were there. Sunday morning in Sunday School, followed by a Sunday evening service where we all sat together (and tried not to get in trouble for talking), then Wednesday Bible study, and throw in another night of the week where we hung out. Not to mention summer camps and choir tours. Deep relationships take time. And we surely invested the time, and it shows, even to this day, we stay connected on Facebook and I’m sure they will be among some of the firsts to read this post.
Try as I might, I can’t recreate the same environment for my children to grow up in. In my effort to get them to connect to a youth group, we have moved churches, attended youth camps (with our church and even with friends’ churches), had lengthy discussions about its importance, all to no avail. None of my three teenage daughters feel a connection to a youth group. What is missing? I don’t know, but I wish I had the answers.
It feels like youth today are so distracted—by their phones, social networks, and extra-curricular activities. They are interested in having a lot of “friends”, but are missing out on the depth of those relationships. Even when they are together, they are often looking at their phones and not each other.
Not only did the youth groups of yesterday spend a lot of time together, when we did, it was without technology to distract us from living in the present. We had looooong van or bus rides and spent many a “lock-in” with our main entertainment being talking to each other. We blew passed the conversations acquaintances have, because those dry up in ten minutes, and talked about everything and anything.
I’m not saying our youth groups were perfect. We had cliques. We had popularity issues. But, we did feel connected. We did, and still do, love each other.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope there are still youth groups out there where kids are feeling connected. In fact, if your teen is involved in one and it is totally working for them, let me know what you think is making it work. Is there some way to reach this generation we need to incorporate into our churches? Please share your successes or observations. I’d love to hear them.