"The sign of a healthy youth group, big or small, is students who know their need for Jesus."
3. Grow Disciples, Not Consumers
To produce a healthy youth group, the focus must be discipleship in Christ. But keep in mind, in the same way we don’t see a tree grow and it can be years before it bears any fruit, so too is gospel growth. So we aren’t necessarily going to see instant revival or an increase in numbers as the evidence of our work.
Because of the slow and steady nature of Christian discipleship, the temptation for youth workers is to turn to other methods to speed the process. Or, out of a desire to justify our work according to how the world measures success (numbers and excitement level), we buy into the need to add to the gospel.
When we start to cater to what’s “working” or felt needs, we inadvertently produce consumers. Is this not why so many people church-hop? If the church is no longer meeting their needs, then it’s time to move on. In the same way, youth who get bored or find something more exciting will move on. But if our dedication is to the gospel alone, the ones whose ears are open and hearts are ripe will keep coming for their thirst to be quenched. The ones who fall away may not see how thirsty for the Living Water they really are.
So the sign of a healthy youth group is not what the world thinks. The sign of a healthy youth group, big or small, is students who know their need for Jesus. Their attendance and worship flow out of the abundance of his grace to them. Their desire to die to self and live more for the good of others, as opposed to being consumers, comes from the work of God’s grace in their lives. Their hatred of their sin, quickness to repent, desire for vulnerability, and hunger for the truth is the “fire” we should strive to ignite.
Kristen Hatton is the New Growth Press author of The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students, Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World and Get Your Story Straight. In addition to her own blog, Kristen occasionally writes for Rooted Ministry, The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, the PCA Women’s enCourage blog, Lifeway’s Parenting Teens, and Crosswalk. Kristen lives in Oklahoma with her pastor husband and is the mother of three teenage/young adult children. Learn more by visiting her website at www.kristenhatton.com.
Photo Credit: unsplash/kyle-ellefson