What to Expect from Youth Group
If you’ve never been to church or youth group and are considering it for the first time, you’re likely to be in for an evening of games, discussion in small groups, reading the Bible together, and maybe some worship music (singing together) or a short talk from one of the youth leaders. This is usually paired with some high-sugar snacks…
The set-up of the evening obviously depends on the size of your church, and the number of young people, but this hopefully is a good starting point!
My advice would be not to give up on youth group after one session, even if it does feel a bit awkward at times and even if you don’t feel like you ‘click’ with the other people there immediately. As with everything, it will get better with time – and it’s a really great discipline to get into, as it will grow your faith and build you up to know God better.
Youth group is different in every church, but my advice would be to approach it with an open mind – i.e. don’t panic if it seems difficult or awkward at the start! They normally do!
It honestly is such a privilege to meet up with other Christians who are your age, and to learn how to support them in the struggles they’re facing (and for them to support you too). It usually turns out that they become some of your closest and most faithful friends as a result.
One last piece of advice is not to get too distracted by the boys at youth group! It’s OK to be interested in boys and definitely great to be friends, have fun and to hang out – but I would encourage you to treat Youth Group as a place where you primarily want to mature in your faith. So – concentrate on developing godly and rooted friendships that genuinely build you up – and if it happens that you meet a boy who loves Jesus more than he loves you, that’s a great thing too!
The first youth group I attended was difficult. I was an odd combination of obnoxious confidence and fragile insecurity – always a dangerous cocktail. In turn, the girls in my group were also outwardly confident and inwardly insecure. This led to many years of in-fighting, sniping and figuring out our broken humanity at the expense of those around us.
A little emotionally spent from my early experience, I changed churches and youth groups when I was 13 years old, where I experienced the very best of youth group. With a few more years to add to our maturity, my experience in this group was a place of total sanctity and safety. I had a lovely group of friends who were beautifully honest in their walk of faith, and youth leaders who were among my favourite people in the world. It was a safe place to ask the tricky questions, mature in my faith with God, and wrestle with a really difficult stage of life. Years later, I am still in touch with many of the girls in the group, marrying the first boy I spoke to, and now godmother to the beautiful baby girl of my old youth leaders.
So what can you expect from youth group? Well in many ways, the same you expect from any other friendship group. It’s a group of peers who are equally struggling through life, desperately trying not to make too many mistakes along the way. You should never expect miracles from the people around you, simply because they call themselves Christians – as always, we remain weak and human, and highly dependable upon the Grace of God.
Equally, if you’re so blessed, you can also expect some of your closest friends and deepest relationships. Youth Group by nature forces conversations that are at a much more intimate level than most other environments. It’s a great opportunity to grow, develop and share your faith with a group of peers who are also wandering down the same path.