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My Youth Group is Crumbling


My youth group is falling apart. We used to be close and have some great student leaders. But most of them graduated this past year, and now the group is a mess. I graduate this coming spring, and I’m afraid nothing will be around for the younger kids when they hit the youth group. What can I do to help right now?

Steve Answers:

It sounds as if you’re in a major crisis. Sometimes people do crazy, reactionary things when they feel this kind of pressure. But sometimes people really get motivated to do positive things. And often this is the time you see God’s work, because you’re desperate for a miracle!

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that everything depends on you for your youth ministry (or any ministry, for that matter). Yes, you can get busy, expecting God to sprinkle your ideas with blessings and provide enough people to make it worth your effort.

But for ministry to happen, you need God. The human part (that’s you) can go through the motions, but what you really want is for God to be present and real in what happens.

We often apply Philippians 4:19 to individuals, but actually this passage was written to the entire church in Philippi. It says, "My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

God has chosen to work through humans in all kinds of ways. To me that’s an incredible miracle! It creates purpose in my life, compassion for others, a desire to share my faith, and encounters of experiencing God. I can’t think of much that can beat that!

But you’re in a crisis mode with your youth group. So let me point out two dynamics that might be happening. We’ll go over the first one this week.

1. Youth groups go through cycles. You mentioned that the youth who graduated this past year were the key leaders. Since their absence nothing seems to be happening.

When a group of strong leaders graduates, there’s bound to be a vacuum. This provides an opportunity for new leaders to take over and develop.

Usually this takes some time, though. Probably those who graduated started off a bit rough, but by the time they graduated they’d developed to the point of proficiency.

Some youth groups anticipate this and keep training in leaders of all ages all the time. But you still experience a difference simply because some clumps of people leave and others (usually much younger and less mature) join. You can figure on a major transition at the start and/or end of each school year.

Some grades seem to have lots of strong leader types and others don’t. Certain grades are more spiritually oriented than others. So expect variety rather than everything staying the same.

Next week I’ll discuss the second dynamic, and offer some ideas for what you can do. 

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