Many churches struggle with the question of how to get a youth group started. Their goals are admirable – they want to bring young people together in a program that is mutually edifying to learn about and reinforce their faith. They also won’t provide an environment that can act as a counterbalance to the often destructive influences presented by modern youth culture today.
If the goal is to start a youth group program then you need to begin by understanding that a youth group is just a smaller piece of a broader youth ministry. A youth ministry will generally include all of the existing ways in which young people can relate to and with the larger church family.
Youth ministry objectives might include encouraging youth participation in the choir, church school, worship ministry, missions outreach projects, or confirmation class in addition or as an alternative to a youth group. Active involvement in any of these types of activities can foster a healthy and important sense of belonging.
With that in mind, it makes it easier to realize that even if a particular teen doesn’t want to participate in the youth group they can still find an important place within your broader youth ministry.
Planning For Success
Once the decision has been made to form a youth group the hard work of organizing and planning begins. It is very important to work with both the teens and their parents when planning out the year ahead. Asking both teens and parents to take part in the planning to foster a sense of ownership in the undertaking and build anticipation.
Getting a realistic idea of what they want to do and how much time they can commit to these activities is the first step. Remember, given most teens often overscheduled lives setting an ambitious schedule or pace can be a recipe for failure. Yes, kids will respond to high expectations, but setting a more modest agenda, with plenty of time for fellowship and fun, can make for a more appealing and more successful launch.
How big a group do you expect to have? It’s a question that will determine the types of group size-appropriate activities you consider and plan for. Obviously, if you only have half a dozen kids showing up on a regular basis, it doesn’t make sense to plan an event or activity that requires breaking down into small groups.