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Ray and I struggled at times with just how to handle our church’s youth group when our children were teenagers. We had had no youth group at our church in Illinois. When we moved to Tennessee, we were excited to have the youth group opportunity for our children. John our oldest participated quite a lot, but, as we learned more and more, we decided that our girls would have limited involvement. That was a bit of a challenge since Ray was the minister, but we found some activities to be very good and some to have elements that were — to be blunt — awful!

Our youth group went on mission trips to Mexico. We solved the question about how to handle that pretty quickly: I went with John on the first trip (Ray knew how much I had wanted to go on a foreign mission trip and was sweet to bless that). Ray and I both went on the second trip (more about that trip on Monday).

Mexico -- John at Border
John at the Mexican Border, 1994
Mexico -- Charlene in Tampico
Charlene Sifts Sand for Concrete in Tampico, 400 Miles South of the Border

I recommend that parents who want their children to be involved with a youth group to be very involved as chaperones. Just because something is done in the name of the Lord does not mean it really is being done to His glory. Even if all the adults have that purpose, that doesn’t mean all the kids will. Many a child has been corrupted by kids in a church youth group. I encourage you to guard your children from that happening to them.

I don’t know many people who can be quite as enthusiastic as our friend Jo when it comes to two topics: spiritual things and her grandchildren! I have written about Jo in the past. On Wednesday night I asked her how her grandchildren were doing. Jo beamed. She said that she had gotten to see all of them but one since she and Gary returned from a recent trip. She told about the lunch she had with her grandson who is in college nearby and she told us very excitedly about this past weekend.

Jo began, “I got to go with Taylor. . .” Taylor is her oldest grandson. I think he is probably about 20 or 21. Jo, who has celebrated her fiftieth anniversary with her husband Gary, went with Taylor to a giant youth conference in the Smoky Mountains. She could not say enough good about it. Our friend Michelle who works in our office went to the conference, too, and her report was also glowing.

I was impressed with what I heard. The theme was purity and the peak attendance, which happened last Sunday morning, was 12, 963! 12,963 people, a majority of them young people, worshiped God and shared the Lord’ Supper together last Sunday morning.

In view of our mixed feelings about youth group activities, Ray and I discussed this event on our way home from church on Wednesday night. I said to Ray, “12,963 people–that’s got to be a good thing.” Ray wisely said that it was a good thing:

  • If it had a long term effect, and
  • If this zeal for the Lord is happening in families.

Ray is right. I remain excited that last weekend, 12,963 people worshiped God, discussed purity, and remembered Jesus’ sacrifice in the Lord’s Supper. However, I believe that the young folks who benefited the most were those whose parents experienced it with them. I don’t think it has ever occurred to me to suggest that a grandparent go with teens to youth events, but that is a great idea, too.

In the South we compliment people by saying that we are proud of them. I am proud of Taylor for inviting his grandmother–how sweet is that! And I am proud of Jo for going. Knowing Taylor and Jo, though, I was surprised at neither.

Let’s not follow the example of the parents and grandparents in 2 Kings 17, who were influences for evil in the next generations:

 So while these nations feared the Lord, they also served their idols;
their children likewise and their grandchildren,
as their fathers did, so they do to this day.
2 Kings 17:41 

Let’s be parents and grandparents who influence for good. As God said about Abraham:

For I have chosen him,
so that he may command his children and his household after him
to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice,
so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.
Genesis 18:19

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  1. My heart resonates with everything you said, Charlene. Youth group was an activity that we limited greatly–or didn’t participate at all–until we came to our church in Texas. This youth group has been wonderful for our family–specifically because it encourages the involvement of families. Many of the parents are volunteers, chaperones, and leaders. We pray that when we move to OK, we will find a group that operates in the same manner!

    • That is great that you found a family-friendly youth group in Texas! If nothing else, youth groups take time away from families. I cringe when I hear about youth trips over holidays when families should be together. I pray you find a good group in Oklahoma, too.

  2. I totally agree with this. My son is only seven, but my husband and I have already decided that when he’s a teenager and joins our parish’s youth group, one of us will accompany him as a chaperone. And that’s also why we currently choose family-friendly activities such as Cub Scouts, where parents are welcome to accompany their kids.

  3. Charlene, what an awesome testimony. When my older girls were young and in youth, I was so naïve, You are absolutely correct parents, grandparents, someone needs to go with them. When we lived in FL, we were in a mega church, my husband stepped up to help out in youth. Jordan was a baby, He was appalled when the only job he had was keeping girls and boys apart from “making out” and worse, I know not ALL are that way, but this one was. It hindered….another example was my two older daughters wanted deeper bible studies in youth instead of attending all the “tailgate parties” the youth pastor wanted to have. When my oldest daughter would not attend the parties, he told the youth she was a spiritual snob. We had words with the youth pastor and pastor about this. Jordan is almost 15 and has just this year been able to attend a few youth events, prior to that we would not let her go. Praise the Lord, most of the students in our church are homeschooled or private schooled. But it still needs chaperoning. Since I have experienced this and am an older mom, I try to talk to the younger parents with youth. They are so many times over confident in the fact that they say “My Child is Grounded in their faith” I can trust them to do no wrong. That is scarry, They are Children, they can still be influenced. for good or bad. Parents or grandparents need to be there. Thank you for sharing this. nancyt.

    • We were naive, too! I am so glad you are having a better experience now than formerly. We have things we are thankful for concerning the youth group, but children just need parents! There is a reason that God made families. The Bible talks a lot about families. Remember how Rehoboam was influenced by the people his own age!