There are three things that a teenager can tell their mom or dad to get out of having to go to Youth Group. I got these from my friend Bob Long a few years ago, and I really think he hit the nail on the head. Here they are:
- “The youth leaders don’t like me.”
- “The other teenagers don’t like me.”
- “It’s boring.”
Do these sound familiar?
Here are a few questions of my own for students who say this to a parent:
- Do you really mean it, or are you just saying that so your parents don’t make you go?
- Did you really give Youth Group a shot, or did you decide ahead of time that it would be lame and the people wouldn’t like you?
- Did you give other people the impression that you didn’t want them to include you in things? If people try to greet you and you give them the cold shoulder and your body language says, “Leave me alone!” then they’ll probably leave you alone. I know this can be a real struggle for people who are naturally very shy, but maybe you’re accidentally giving off the impression that you don’t want them to talk to you?
- Are you expecting Youth Group to be the most amazing and fun thing you’ve ever been to… every single week? Youth leaders have good weeks where they have lots of time to plan, and they have really busy weeks where there’s not too much time to devote to finding new and exciting games.
- Especially if you’re a Junior/Senior: Are you going to serve or be served? Is Youth Group all about you, or do you go in order to make sure others are greeted and welcomed and have a good time?
- Are you rejecting Youth Group because you don’t want anything to do with God? Sometimes, it may not be about Youth Group at all… sometimes there’s sin in your life that you don’t want to deal with, so you create reasons to avoid Youth Group.
- Are you really pursuing Christ, or do you just want people to think you are? If you go to Youth Group and everyone’s “too immature” for you, then maybe you aren’t as mature as you think… start serving! Talk to your youth pastor and ask how you can get involved.
Parents: Do any of these three excuses sound familiar? Try asking some of the above questions to your teen and see how they respond. Have you talked to the Youth Pastor – not to tell him how to do his job better, but to share what you’ve heard from your teen and to hear his perspective on it? Are you praying for your Youth Pastor, the other Youth Leaders, and for the Youth Ministry as a whole?
Students: Be honest about why you don’t want to go. Maybe you’ve listed one of the above reasons above and you really mean is! Try an experiment: Go to Youth Group every week for a month and be intentional about YOU being the one who welcomes people and tries to make things more enjoyable for everyone. If you still hate Youth Group after a month of really doing that, then maybe it’s time to talk to your parents and/or your youth pastor about things.
Youth Pastors: I think I can speak for all of us when I say I’m very much aware of how cliquish Youth Group can be for a first-time visitor. Are we doing all we can do to encourage our students to be reaching out to visitors and to break down the walls between the groups within the group?