I see youth (and their families) devoting countless hours, days, and seasons to sports and other team activities. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think a ton of positives can come from those sorts of team commitments. BUT…I ask you… are you still prioritizing Jesus (above those commitments) or are you squeezing Him into your crunched schedule? Maybe you’re not spending any time with Him at all. Our relationship with Christ should be above all else. First and foremost. He should be the first thing on our “to-do list”, not the afterthought. As Christians, we are called to go and do the work that was prepared in advance for us to do. Are you helping your youth carve out time for that in their day-to-day lives? Are you showing your youth how you’ve carved out that same time in yours?
Recently I’ve found myself ministering to several new faces. This is exciting and I’m grateful we’re continually reaching new youth. That being said, I’m also seeing several youth drifting away. I’ve been seeing it since I started my job, and have heard of this issue since before I started. Youth from strong Christian families are drifting away. If you haven’t heard this until now, let me say it again: Youth from STRONG CHRISTIAN FAMILIES are drifting away.
Last year I went to game after game, recital after recital, concert after concert…and I’d see these youth progressively fall deeper into the ways of the world. Listen. Lives need to be lived. I get it. I played sports all throughout college. But if your sports and team schedule has taken precedence over Jesus. Changes need to be made. I don’t care how talented your youth is. I care about their hearts, not the mask they put on with their fancy Sunday morning church clothes.
How sure are you that your youth’s heart is still on Jesus?
I want to step out on a limb and connect unpopular dots. Is it possible the longer these youth are away from the church body, the easier it will be to fall into the ways of the world? I think the answer is clear. The answer is YES. We are meant to be in the world, but we are NOT meant to be of the world. There is a difference, and I am always here to help you navigate what that difference looks like. For youth, it’s important for them to be around consistent reminders. It’s also important to expose them to other youth that are outside of the normal friend-type they choose to hang out with. God didn’t cookie-cut the same person. There is a reason for that. Interacting with different types of people (athlete, musician, artist, gamer…) will only aid your youth in the future. From my vantage point, youth that are normally overlooked, finally feel seen…while the youth that were used to being seen, now feel out of place. Not understanding that there is room for all, seen and unseen. God sees us all.
Youth group isn’t about being cool. My job is not to be 5 versions of myself so I can connect seamlessly with every youth’s personality and interest. My job is to love them and teach them about the Love of Jesus from the Bible. My job is to show them that no person is perfect, but that Jesus was. My job is to be real and to extend my hand as much as I can. I’ve been equipped by God to chase after these youth. Parents, Help me catch up to them.
If your youth is not actively part of youth group, I ask you to push them to come, and then to come back. They might not want to, but they need to. They’re getting plenty of everything else everywhere else. Let’s give them more Jesus. We have an amazing team of youth leaders ready and waiting to pour into your youth.
This article is not to shame parents and youth that occasionally miss youth group or Sunday mornings due to sports and other team commitments. This is to open your eyes to a very real issue. It is to hopefully force you to ask yourself (and your youth) some tough honest questions. And listen…. We have several youth athletes and non-athletes that consistently fight the pressures of this world, and relentlessly shine the light of the truth they KNOW. Let’s empower all our youth to be like them.