Thursday, March 14, 2013

Three Ways to Tell if Your Youth Group is in Trouble

One of the saddest things in the world is a church that is dying. I think something that is even sadder is a youth group that is dying. Usually this is a symptom that the church is dying, but not always. Here are three things that you should be on the lookout for to see if your youth group is about to be place on life support.

  1. Your youth group is only interested in "what we've always done." There is nothing wrong with tradition or doing the same activities from year to year. Some of these activities become highlights or rites of passage. When I was in youth group, an annual activity called the WOL Superbowl was a huge part of our youth group. The trouble arises when people want to only do the same activities and have no place for changing things. There is a time when certain activities no longer work. You need to put those activities out to pasture for the health of your group.
  2. Your youth group only does "fun" activities. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having fun. Some of my favorite activities as a youth pastor or leader have been fun activities. Trips to amusement parks and pizza parties are a big part of youth group life. However, if this is all your group does, you are no different from a social club or a school club. Growing spiritually should and must be a part of youth group. Time in prayer, weekend retreats that focus on the Bible, and mission trips should be a huge part of a healthy youth group.
  3. Your youth group has not had any new people in a long time. If your group is healthy, the students in the group will have a passion for the group. They will be excited about what is happening and they will invite their friends. If the youth group is struggling to stay healthy, this passion will not exist. The students (and leaders) will only focus on themselves, desiring for the group to stay small and tight. New additions to the group will be looked upon as intruders and will not be welcome. Get the hearse ready...your youth group is almost dead.


  1. Replies
    1. What do you mean, Ross? Why do you think you are in trouble?

    2. That's not good, and seriously, there are lots of us who would be happy to help!

      What's up?

  2. I just received this question from my friend Wade Patton:

    "I recently spoke with a pastor who confessed to being scared of the growth of his youth group because all he's ever known is smaller congregations. Jonathan, would that be considered a "Youth Group in trouble"?"

    What are your thoughts in regards to this?

  3. Yeah, I have been with a group for about a year and we are stuck with number 1. It's hard to break in some new ideas when its opposed pretty quickly.

    1. I have to agree with you. I ran into this issue at my previous church. My suggestion would be to sit down with your leaders and have them explain why they are so adamant about doing these activities. Give them specific guidelines of what you hope to accomplish by doing activities and events. If an event or activity does not fit into your guidelines, it gets cut. Traditions are great, but not at the expense of furthering the kingdom.