Walking up the side stairs of the church to the youth wing is one of the most freeing experiences that I get to have every Wednesday and Sunday that we meet. High fives are exchanged, laughs are shared, soda cans are littered across the room on top of tables and beside the couches, and ping pong balls whiz by as teens attempt to socialize without interruption. This organized chaos has been a staple in my life, and continues to serve as a place I can relax and just enjoy everyone’s company. Listed below are some things that I have realized as part of my own youth group, and hopefully you can relate to them.
1. You meet new people who become your closest friends, probably.
The faces that once seemed unfamiliar are the ones that you have Snapchat streaks with and they constantly blow up your phone. These are people you might have never met if you did not go to church with them. What would you do without them?
2. Memories that last forever? Check.
So much happens within a youth group, and a multitude of the memories formed are ones that I keep close to my heart. From the all-nighters during lock-ins, long car rides to different states, and even the serious moments where tears stream down your face during "How He Loves", there is something unforgettable and magical that comes from being a part of something like that.
3. You discover things about yourself.
Your peers and adults might push you to do things that are out of your comfort zone: talking to the homeless, sharing your testimony, or maybe ziplining to the other side of the forest during an outing. Just let it happen, even if it seems impossible. You would be surprised what you can accomplish when your open your mind.
4. It starts to feel less like you have to be there and more of you want to be there.
As a child who has grown up in the church, when I was younger I felt almost obligated to go to youth events because it was something I was a part of. Once you realize how special the people you get to be with are and what God is doing in your life through the youth ministry, your mindset will change.
5. Relationship with God becomes greater than it was before.
Do you not feel spiritually fulfilled by sermons and communion? Maybe prayer stations or worship is where you feel a true connection with God. Youth groups allow for unique experiences that extend beyond what is typical in a church service, giving teens the opportunity to experience their faith in a way that is more relatable to their age.
6. Youth pastor = your #1 fan.
They will be there for you through the ups and downs, and possibly pop up at your choir concerts or volleyball matches. You can count on them to answer your questions or phone calls at 10:00 at night.
7. Mission trips, retreats, lock-ins, oh my!
Youth groups normally offer a variety of activities throughout the year for all ages. The more of these events you take part in, the more bonding that takes place among the youth. You would not want to miss out on some of the most exciting things going on that everyone else always talks about, would you?
These are just some of the many things that happened or became apparent through participating in a youth group. As time goes on, I pray that you get to participate in the life-changing events that take place as a youth group member. It may take a while to warm up to the idea of giving up your time on Sundays and Wednesdays, but it is worth it 100 percent.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead