Let’s Talk About Youth

Well hello again everyone. I hope that you all had a great weekend. Today, I am thinking about Youth Groups and Sunday School in small congregations. The church I grew up in had three youth, my two bothers and I, so Sunday school and youth group looked quite similar to every day at the Adams house.

The church I am serving now has a decent sized group of kids. I would say somewhere right around ten. However, they are spread out in different grade levels and some brothers and sisters all have to be together. Some of our classes have only siblings in them, or they have a kindergartner and a fifth grader.

Members of the church come up to me and to our C.E. Chair all the time to discuss how they feel like we are letting the youth down. I try to tell them that the amount of youth we have in our congregation is a gift, after all something like 10% of our membership is under the age of 18. Now though I am beginning to see that our Sunday morning offerings are sort of dead in the water. We have more Sunday School teachers than kids on some mornings and the curriculum is not really working out.

Youth Group is a slightly easier fix. We have been able to get them involved in Presbytery retreats and things. Yet there is still a problem with trying to offer them something weekly or even monthly. We are slowly rebuilding the Middle School youth and doing a good job of it, but once again it feels like we can’t really get things to where the parents, kids and outside observers are excited about it.

So let’s talk. How do you do Youth Group or Sunday school in your churches? How do you deal with a small budget and high expectations? Should we just stop doing Sunday school for kids and find something else? In a world where we are competing with all sorts of other things how do we make this time something special and meaningful for our youth?

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About collinwpc
I am the pastor of a small church in Columbus, OH. Over the past three years I have learned to give-up my pride and be a partner with my church, not a dictator. I am hoping to do the same here.

2 Responses to Let’s Talk About Youth

  1. Thanks for the post, Colin. When I was serving a small rural congregation as pastor the youth things that really worked were either inter-generational — service projects for youth and anyone else — or ecumenical. A traditional youth group in my small congregation didn’t seem plausible, but I wonder about others’ experiences.

  2. Emily says:

    We are struggling with the youth group/Sunday School hour for teens. They are just too busy and because things haven’t been offered on a consistent basis for the past 10 years (if at all), church stuff does not make the priority list.

    This past year, I partnered with another Presbyterian pastor to do youth group together. Our youth attend the same high school. It started off well, with a handful of kids each month, but attendance dropped off in the winter and never picked back up. The last meeting we were down to 2 youth.

    At session tonight we are throwing around ideas about canceling youth Sunday School – which averaged something like .3 youth a Sunday – and changing youth group into a tween group – the age group where the kids are really excited about church around here. We may use the few youth who are around as helpers and teachers for the tween group.

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