Have you ever played the game clumps? It’s a kids game where the game-leader calls out a number (“four!”) and everyone rushes to clump into groups of the right size. If you get left out of a group then you’re out. The game moves on for a few rounds or until there are only a few people remaining.
Doesn’t life feel like that sometimes? You’re “in,” or you’re “out.” You belong, or you don’t. The worst is when you’re surrounded by other people, but you’re really all alone. It’s a terrible feeling we’ve all experienced, and we want to make sure that no one ever feels that way at youth group.
How Will They Know Us?
Jesus said that one of the most obvious ways people will know we are his disciples is by the way we love one another (John 13:34-35). People are always watching, if we divide ourselves and treat each other the same way everyone does at school… then what makes us any different?
One of the most important things in a healthy youth group is to create an “atmosphere of love.” Where people can come, take a deep breath, and relax because they know they can let their guard down and be themselves. Without fear of rejection or judgment. Freedom to peel off the masks we wear to protect us from hurt and rejection…
Instead of diving ourselves into clumps or cliques, we care for one another. I’m pretty sure we all want to join a group like that!
What If I Don’t Love Everyone Here?
“If anyone claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister he is still in darkness.” (1 John 2:9)
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
So, what you’re telling me is that my salvation is in question if there’s someone at youth group who I really just can’t stand?!
No… I’m not saying that. The Bible is saying that! Here’s why this is so important: When you become a Christian you become a child of God. That means you join a whole big family of other children of God, and they are members of your new family. Just like your biological family might really bug you but you continue to love them despite their personality quirks; we need to love one another because we’re family.
Do I Need to Be Friends With Everyone?
The most obvious question is if you need to be friends with everyone in the group. I mean, seriously, you can’t possibly be best friends with everyone in youth group. And that’s ok. But don’t you think we should all care for each other and be respectful to one another?
There will probably be someone you find annoying. There will be others who you just don’t know how to talk to them, because you don’t have anythign in common. Again, that’s alright. Show them that you care about them. Listen to them. Let them talk about the things they care about. Take an interest in them, without a concern about you talking about yourself.
You don’t need to be best friends with everyone. But you should make a genuine effort to care for each other. What a powerful witness of God’s power when we love each other despite all our differences, all because we share a common faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who makes us united.
Creating an “atmosphere of love” is work. If it was easy, we’d feel that way everywhere! It’s not easy, but we all need to make the effort to care for each other.
Over the next few weeks in youth group we’ll be talking about what it means to be a PeaceMaker and how to resolve conflict.
Until then, start thinking about whether or not there are any relationships you need restored… and start praying for that person (and for your attitude towards him/her).