Isn't working with youth the best? Better yet, isn't being a youth the best? Some of my favorite memories from high school came from youth group. I remember when I was finally at the age where I could start participating in the youth group (my church called it "Teen Club"). I felt so cool, like I was part of the 'in' crowd, just being that age. I even got to play in their worship band, even though I wasn't the best of guitarists. We took fun trips, had bonfires, played ultimate frisbee and, in general, made a ruckus in the church. We went on mission trips all across the country and raised money for those trips in all the usual ways, washing cars and flocking the congregation with flamingos in their yards. All around, youth group was a great experience for me.
But when I graduated, all that changed. I didn't go straight to college, so I wasn't really a 'college kid'. And at the same time, I wasn't really a 'youth' anymore, at least as far as church programs were concerned. I was in what you might call limbo. Church Void. Young Adult Purgatory. You get the idea. The church had done great things for me, as a youth, to make me feel included and make me feel like a part of the church. But once I was past the traditional youth age, it was either the college group or the adult group. And I didn't feel like either.
Many churches have run into the same problem. They've created great programs where youth can learn and grow together in discipleship, and they're encouraged to succeed in high school, celebrated as they graduate, and then pushed right on out the door. They send nice care packages to the ones who are in college and encourage them to find a church or some kind of college ministry to become part of. And that's about the extent of it. We've drawn the wrong finish line. Youth group and youth programs are great. College ministry is great. But somehow we've got to connect the dots. Don't leave the youth, who are quickly becoming young adults, hanging. Remember, we're all in this together. We all live under the grace of God, as Christians, both young and old. Let's keep the fire going!
- Thomas R. Myers
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future