My childhood church was a revolving door of youth ministers. I honestly do not recall most of their names but three incidents vividly stand out when I think of my time in youth group.
I remember one was fired because he got an earring.
(It was the early 90’s people. He also had a mullet…which should have been the deciding factor for his termination not the earring. I’m kidding, kind of!)
Another youth minister got the axe because he didn’t fit the particular church youth minister mold.
(I slightly recall him resembling David Koreish.)
But the one I recall most vividly was the one who was fired for doing his job.
(Literally, three of the students came back from church camp wanting to be youth ministers and all-of-a-sudden he was brainwashing us. I’m sure there was more to the story but that was a tipping point.)
Come to think of it, maybe that is why I have such a strong distrust of youth group.
All joking aside.
I find people are somewhat surprised when I tell them our family is not actively involved in youth group. In order to remain respectful, I will only say this. We tried it and it was not a fit for our family. And I must say I was relieved when the decision not to go back was at the request of my child.
Before you check out on me.
If your child goes to youth group I am not saying pull them out. Youth group can be really good, especially for kids who do not have spiritual mentors at home. Youth groups are also really good as a supplement for parents already spiritually involved with their children. All I am encouraging is for you to know what is happening and and understand the role of the youth group your child attends.
However, it’s a slippery slope and one we, as the spiritual leaders of our children, decided not to slide down.
Now that you have been enlightened on where I stand on youth groups and might now trust that I am not partial to them, let me take a moment and defend the men and women on staff of churches all over.
Just like every story, there’s a good and bad side. I shared our not so good experiences, but I have also met some outstanding men and women of God who were an exception. And sadly, they are usually the men and women who get complained about from the parents.
In my humble experience, the main three complaints of parents concerning youth ministers:
-They aren’t teaching to the specifications of the parents. (I mean, where’s the curriculum! Why aren’t they training them to diligently defend defend defend….yep, I put that in there for us apologetic parents!!)
-They aren’t fun enough and aren’t doing enough church camps/cool worship music/Jesus culture; therefore they aren’t attracting the masses. (Who wants to do all this God stuff alone. Post about that here.)
-All they want to do is teach, ironically, out of (gasp) God’s Word. I mean, who wants to come hear about God at youth group! Lighten up man….so serious.
Literally, I’ve heard each of these complaints while serving in a youth group and from other unsatisfied parents of youth. And I understand there are legitimate complaints also, but I feel very strongly that we don’t understand the reason for the youth group and the teachers.
So, please let me gently remind you of what youth ministers are not for your family:
–They are not the spiritual leaders of your child. It is YOUR JOB to train them up. Of course, youth groups can help but the meat of spiritual growth starts at home. If your children lack spiritual maturity, look in the mirror, don’t point to the youth minister.
–They are not miracle workers. Most youth ministers have interaction with your children less than 10 hours a week. How much time do you have with them again? If you say not much, then maybe it is time to re-prioritize your family time.
–They are not spiritual entertainers or baby sitters. I will never forget a dear Pastor friend of mine posted on social media that parents should not do a drop and go at church. He was verbally accosted within three minutes of posting. Let me encourage you to use that time to be spiritually fed yourselves. If your church doesn’t have anything for you, maybe try starting your own group.
Look, it truly does take a village to raise children. Having others pour into them is not wrong but it is also not anyone else’s responsibility either to do your job at home.
We have stepped back from spiritually rearing our children and then have made scapegoats out of the ones who have been encouraged to step in our place.