Youth Group Blues
Most kids can't wait to attend a church's youth group. But unfortunately, there are some who can't stand the thought of going at all. If your preteen or teen fits into this category, you can always force her to attend youth classes and activities. But making your child do things at this age almost always has negative consequences. So consider the following options:
- Encourage youth leaders to invite guest speakers. Your child might not care for the usual teacher, but will "try going again" if a guest speaker teaches. Or see if several regular teachers can rotate teaching and leading duties.
- Ask your youth leaders to survey the kids about attendance, interests, etc. Volunteer to help write the survey and tabulate the results. Leaders may discover the reasons why your child's reluctant to attend are more prevalent than they realized.
- Encourage your child to find one friend from the group to commit to "being there" each week and for special activities. (Of course, your child needs to make the same commitment.) Sometimes your child will want to participate just because he's looking forward to spending time with a friend.
- Do some investigative work. Is there one aspect of the group your child doesn't like-such as singing during worship times? Ask youth leaders to emphasize that worship is more than singing a few songs together. Kids can have a worshipful attitude even if they're not completely comfortable singing with the group.
- Be open to alternatives. Serving at church in some capacity is better than not attending at all. Some teens love working in the nursery or assisting in early elementary classes. Others might want to pursue a special ministry, such as drama, music, or puppeteering.
- If all else fails, explore another church's youth group, perhaps where a close friend attends, or one that's simply a better fit for your child's personality.
Brad Lewis, a member of the CPT Advisory Board, lives with his wife and two sons in Colorado Springs.
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