Tonight, the Church I lead will have students involved in youth group from sixth grade to seniors in High School. We start with our Jr. High and High School students together for the food and lesson, then break up for the small group time. Through the years, I have noticed an interesting transition that happens during a student’s time in this ministry.
The Junior High years for each youth are a time of much-needed growth. Their bodies are growing and changing, their views are moving from toys to teenage things, and their faith is solidifying. These students attend and spend a great deal of time watching. They watch the leaders, their peers, and older students.
Somewhere along this journey, a transition happens. These wide-eyed teenagers become young adults. No longer do they watch with the wonder of a young child; instead, they become the role model that others observe.
This is an important transition because a young person’s attitude toward youth group changes in the process. Suddenly that child who enjoyed and connected at youth group is not interested in going. It no longer feels the same for them. I often remind parents and teens alike that there becomes a point where you are not the one being influenced as much as you are the one influencing. Those younger attendees are looking up to them for guidance and direction. At some stage, youth group becomes more about what the student provides than what they receive.
When this happens, I have sadly watched through the years as many teens quit coming. I think this occurs for two reasons. One, they don’t want the role of leadership. Two, they are convinced that everything should be for them. The most significant step of growth in any teenager and any adult, for that matter, is when they realize their example casts a shadow over those younger than themselves, and they take it seriously.
Leadership is needed in the kingdom on every level. We can attempt to run from our influence, or we can embrace it for the good of the others. Either choice is going to impact someone for God.