In the bedroom of an average house, you see a 16 year old girl looking for an answer. She’s already flipped through the television channels, magazine pages, and self-help books. Every so often she glances at her dusty bottom bookshelf. The tears stream down her face until finally she ventures to that shelf of unused sources. The book she picks up is under her category of “Christian Books I Got for Confirmation, But Never Read.” You can’t help but notice that she is spiritually confused and vulnerable. As a youth leader, you want to step inside that room and show her the Answer.
Fortunately, one of your youth, by the Spirit’s working, will.
That alienated adolescent was me, at a place in my life where nothing made sense. How perfect was that place for God’s perfect work in my vulnerable heart. One Sunday night, when the only thing I could think of doing was numbing my mind to the pain of my world, the phone rang. On the other line was an older friend of mine with one question for me,
“Do you want to go with me to youth group? We’re having a Movie Madness night.”
After that night, I continued to come to youth group looking for answers. Through the church and the youth group, I was shown Jesus is the Answer. It was not long after, that youth group gave me a sense of belonging. It did not seem right for me to spend my Sunday nights at home by myself. God was working through my youth group and my faith was being fostered.
All youth groups need to be Christ-focused. This principle seems like such a no-brainer. Anything you do with your youth group needs to be centered on the message of the Cross. If you want to do a fundraiser with your youth for an upcoming event, find the connection between your car wash and the Gospel. If you can do this for the events you hold, your youth will learn to not compartmentalize their life as well.
Even with a clear focus on Jesus Christ, youth workers need to meet the youth where they are. If, on that particular Sunday night, I would have stepped into that youth room and watched my youth leader hop onto his soapbox and preach to me about how he was living the right way, I certainly would not be writing this article. Youth spend the majority of their time listening to “grown-ups” tell them what to do. In many situations their opinions are pushed to the wayside and adults naturally dictate their routine. Most of your youth want to be in a place where they feel that they count, where what they have to say is willing to be heard. Ask your youth what they need. I guarantee they have something to say. There is no set of rules that will give you the best youth group. There isn’t a program recipe that will produce Christ-centered youth, only Jesus can work such changes. But there is a bunch of youth in your congregation that know there is something missing from their life.
Youth will come to youth group with wants and needs, and youth workers have the answer to help them find focus. Most high school students need direction. Their life feels out of control physically, mentally, and spiritually. That’s where I was. I couldn’t control what was going on in my life and I needed someone or something to stop my world from spinning and give me something on which to focus. The youth in your congregation will find someone to provide it. There are plenty of things in the world in which high school students can place their faith: drugs, alcohol, sex, and other things of this world. Pray for the Spirit to use you as a tool to reach them and direct them to Jesus Christ.