With four kids of our own, I find myself looking back on my teenage years a lot. Especially our church youth group.

We did a lot of fun youth group activities, but there was so much more to it. I guess I took it for granted at the time.

Now I realize what a difference there is between then and now.

Back When I Was a Kid — a Long Time Ago

ice skating - clicjeroen-pixabay

Our youth group had a lot of fun together. Like ice-skating, doing “crack the whip” and everything.

Sliding down a snow covered hill in inner tubes. Or, in the summer, using inner tubes to float down the river.

I loved the hay rides. Just makes you ready for a good night’s sleep.

A basket social. That’s where the girls make the food baskets and the boys bid on them.

Even a slave day. People from the congregation came to the church on a Saturday morning and picked up a kid or two to work for them. We must have been raising money for something. I don’t remember what. But I remember my job was ironing.

Spin the plate? Well, maybe that wasn’t as exciting as some other things, but still pretty fun.

And so much more.

We’d do the activity — whatever it was, have a short devotional time (often led by one of the kids), and eat something. That was our basic meeting, particularly during the time when we didn’t have a youth pastor.

We had a super great youth group even without a youth pastor. And it was still great, even when we did get a youth pastor.

During the time of no youth pastor, we would always have some adult chaperon there with us. When I served as secretary, it was my job to make the phone calls ahead of time — asking one of the kids to do the devotional, another to bring refreshments, and asking somebody’s parents to be chaperons.

canoe-photoelf-pixabay

Eventually having a youth pastor, though, certainly had its advantages. For one thing, we could do things further from home. Like canoe camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Paddling and portaging…getting soaked in the rain and drying off by the campfire…eating s’mores.

But there’s obviously more to a church youth group than fun activities.

Now, thirty-five, forty, forty-five years later….

What Was the Fruit?

I can’t speak for the more recent past. I don’t know what the youth group at my home church has been like for the last few decades, because I have moved away from that area. But I can speak for the time period from ’73 to about ’87 — my era and a little beyond.

We didn’t all just grow up and live happily every after. Some tragic things have happened in some of our lives.

cessna-flo51vogt-pixabayBut a significant number of kids from our church, from our youth group, have become missionaries, pastors, pastors’ wives, as well as serving the Lord in many other ways. God has used them to touch lives in communities within our home state, in metropolitan areas further from home, and in remote villages on the other side of the world…through preaching, business, writing, aviation, teaching, health care, etc.

Here is the Connection

No. It wasn’t just having fun in a youth group that led to later fruitfulness both in the U.S. and beyond. I left out a big part of the story.

Actually, it wasn’t so much the youth group, although that did bond us together.

It was Jesus and His Church.

Adult Role Models Pointed us to Jesus

Who were the role models?

Adults in the church. Our own parents, each other’s parents, the pastor, missionaries, special speakers, etc.

The adults in the church talked to us. We talked to them. We were part of the church.

This sounds so basic. That’s why I just took it for granted. But now forty years later, I don’t see this happening. It’s like someone just took the bread away from the peanut butter sandwich and they don’t know why they can’t get the gooey mess off their fingers and into their mouth.

Bible - jclk8888 - pixabayThe adults that impacted our lives were connected to us and connected to Jesus.

But it wasn’t some kind of put on thing. It wasn’t an act. They weren’t trying to be relevant. They were just real.

Our Sunday School teacher had kids of his own. (The youngest one was in the youth group when I was.) He was just a dad — a dad who loved Jesus. He taught us from the Bible. He didn’t try to be some popular guy. But he poured into our lives, and we respected him. We knew he cared about us. He was real, and he was one of those people God used in our lives to draw us closer to Him.

The parents of all the kids were real people. We were in each other’s homes. Lots of times, we met in homes for youth group activities. We knew the other adults in the church, not just the ones with teenagers. We knew the little kids. We knew the elderly people. Church was like a big extended family.

Our pastor cared about us. He helped us grow in Christ, and gave us opportunities to be involved in the church in whatever ways we could.

When we did have a youth pastor (actually two of them during the time period I remember), they were real people. They didn’t try to be “popular” or “cool.” They were just who they were. And so were their wives. They loved Jesus and followed Him.

We had missionaries come and speak at church, especially during the annual missionary conference. I still to this day remember how one of them strongly exhorted us to give our lives completely to Christ, to be used by Him in any way He wanted to use us. They presented God’s Word to us and challenged us to follow Jesus. I made a note of it in my Bible at the time, because it impacted me so much.

We Were Active in the Church Because We Were Part of It

I have seen, in recent years, an attempt to get youth involved in the church. As if it’s some big deal to do that. Some new idea.

That wasn’t how it was for us back then. We were involved in the church, but it wasn’t a big deal. We were just part of the church, and that’s the way it was.

violin-hmcreativos-pixabay

Youth often sang or played special music in church. Some of us sang in the church choir.

We went to Sunday morning service and Sunday evening service. Youth group met Saturday nights, so there was no conflict at all with a church service.

Sunday School was before the Sunday morning service. Yes, we did have our own Sunday School class, but even the adults had more than one class going on at that time. They could choose which one to go to. Then after Sunday School, we were all together for the service.

People of different ages talked together after the services. An outside observer would not have seen the youth go off by themselves after church, segregated from the adults. The adults were our friends, too.

Adults and youth were all individual, unique people. We each had our strengths and weaknesses, and our areas to grow in. But we accepted each other and knew that we were all one in the Body of Christ.

So, yes, we had a youth group. We did fun things. But that was an extra blessing on top of the blessing of being an integral part of the church as a whole.

We felt included. We felt cared for. We felt like we were worth something. We felt responsible. We felt challenged. We felt like we belonged.

I wish I could say the same for the church youth groups I see today.

Fun Youth Group Activities … and So Much More

30 thoughts on “Fun Youth Group Activities … and So Much More

  • December 14, 2018 at 11:59 am
    Permalink

    Danette, that 2nd to last paragraph,this is the stuff healthy communities are made of and where most of our society is lacking – especially if we all look in the same direction – loved your childhood relection , wonderful post thankyou!

    Reply
  • December 14, 2018 at 12:05 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you so much Danette for sharing this story 😊🙏,very inspiring.

    Reply
    • December 14, 2018 at 1:12 pm
      Permalink

      You’re welcome, Bella. Let me know if there’s ever anything I could pray for you about.

      Reply
  • December 14, 2018 at 12:42 pm
    Permalink

    What an amazing article, I could learn so many important, such as who are adults in the church. I did not grow up going to the church frequently but as time goes on i have been learning more about my spiritual life, connection with universe thanks to the highest. Your website is remarkable, you have given to the youth a very important info.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • December 17, 2018 at 7:08 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you, Daniel. By the way, if you have access to a Bible, it could help you to learn a lot more.

      Reply
  • December 17, 2018 at 4:34 pm
    Permalink

    It’s great to read about your youth group activities. It looks like you had so much play and fun there. I agree it makes difference when you feel worthy and cared for as a part of a community. All the best!

    Reply
    • December 17, 2018 at 5:10 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks for your comment, Blanka. Yes, being a real part of the church as a whole, rather than separated because of age, was a big thing.

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:03 pm
    Permalink

    Even though I didn’t grew in this part of the world but I too can recall my childhood and youth in Europe.

    We, the kids, came together also in a church group, at least most of the time, and had so many wonderful events together.

    The Pastor or another elder were leading the groups where we learned different crafts, sports events and more.

    Learning about the Gospel and learning from the Bible was also a given.

    I too, in today’s society, can’t see these kind of engagement anymore and I personally find it sad that a part of our religious upbringing has changed, almost lost.

    I really have enjoyed your article and appreciate that you have shared it. Thank you.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2018 at 7:02 am
      Permalink

      You’re welcome, Sylvia, and thanks for sharing some of what you remember as well. We can be thankful for what we were given when we were young, and hopefully do what we can to pass on to the next generation something that they will in turn be able to treasure for the rest of their lives.

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:05 pm
    Permalink

    Danette,

    Thank you this brings back such wonderful memories for me I belonged to the Youth Group at my cousins church because the church we attended did not have one.  The outings and things that we had bringing us closer to our Lord were not only spiritually lifting but fun for the youth that belonged.  We had chaperones for all the outings my parents would even volunteer as well when we needed them.  It is such a shame that all of this has gone by the way side it would be wonderful to see the youth of today have the pleasures of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord the way we did and grown up loving him the same as we have.

    Thanks again,

    Susan

    Reply
    • December 19, 2018 at 7:09 am
      Permalink

      You’re welcome, Susan. Your experience indeed sounds very similar to mine. It makes me think again of how much we probably took for granted back then. I know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And I pray that He would work in the hearts and lives of young people today.

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:07 pm
    Permalink

    This was a lovely post to read and I really enjoyed it.  I think  there is not enough done for youths these days  but  when ever  I have been to any church where ever I am  there is always a youth group that has activities for youths.  I think authorities can learn a lot from local parishes.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2018 at 7:40 am
      Permalink

      Thanks for your comment, Darren. And may God continue to bless you as well as the youth at whatever church you go to with His truth and life.

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:09 pm
    Permalink

    This is a post I can relate to very well. 

    In the west, it’s pretty much easy to see how youth group activities have changed a lot in this generation. It’s sad but I think we can say that gone were the days when church youth groups used to do meaningful stuff not only during Sundays but even during school breaks and holidays. Yes, I’ve been there too. I am reminded of those times when we as a group did activities together not only for fun but also to foster stronger and healthier relationship with one another and with God.

    Perhaps it’s a little different in my country because as I see the youths today, they are still actively involved not only in church activities but also in organizing youth camps and concert crusades especially in the remote and unreached areas. But I believe it’s not yet too late. We as parents can teach and guide our kids into getting involved in meaning youth group activities that point to Jesus. As you put it, we are supposed to be the role models.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2018 at 7:59 am
      Permalink

      Alice, that is so encouraging about the youth in your country, especially about going to unreached areas! And yes, there is hope that it’s not yet too late. Thanks for the reminder. God bless you and your family as you serve Him!

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:12 pm
    Permalink

    Blessings to you for spreading the word. I also have many missionaries in my family. As a kid, we all got to go to Bible Camp and that was a big fun experience. I remember feeling so proud to have my bible in hand with something of value to say. There were some kids there who were new to accepting the Lord into their hearts and it was such an emotional, beautiful thing to be a part of.

    Thank you for this post.

    I do wonder if you can provide a link to how you got started blogging, ya know, if there is any way you can share some tips or training as to how me/we(your readers) can maybe start a blog as well? 

    You have done a beautiful post here. I am grateful you are able to share this with others it will sure enough be helpful to many.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2018 at 3:18 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you for your comment, Amelita. I remember going to a Bible Camp, too, and the really life changing things that happened there — decisions to follow God and obey Him no matter what.
      You asked how I got started blogging. I have thought about this, and about what I could say. I guess there are two things that I would say are really important. One is an avenue to make it possible, and the other is having the right attitude about it. A few months ago, I wrote an article addressing the attitude part of it, which also has links to what I honestly consider the best avenue to help a person start blogging. (See “Expanding Your Horizon: Blessing Others on Real Stay at Home Business.)

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:12 pm
    Permalink

    what a great post and how wonderful to know there are still good places happening all over the world

    My daughter attended youth group and it was the foundation for a really well lived life and you have shared some truly inspiring information and I hope many people visit your site to learn more about the goodlife living as a Christian

    Reply
    • December 20, 2018 at 4:23 am
      Permalink

      Thank you so much for your comment, Vicki. I’m glad to hear that your daughter benefited from a good foundation for her life!

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:14 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Danette, You have really hit a nerve. I feel the same way. Just the other day I was thinking of a dear lady in our community, she wasn’t from my Church but it didn’t matter, she ran a group called the Band of Hope and we youngsters all went along to Crankshaws house and Mrs. Crankshaw read to us from the Bible. We sang Christian music and had a jolly time. As we grew older we all went to the same Youth Group, which was held in the Methodist Church, although I was not Methodist, we were a mixed bunch. Being a small town we all did things together.

    It appears to me that the parents don’t encourage their children to join Church activities and they are the losers in the long run. Perhaps they want to sleep in the in morning and don’t want to take their children to the Church. Not only that, but the children have more say in the matter. If my children didn’t want to go to Sunday School, I just said it wasn;t an option to stay home. You have to go to school and you have to go to Sunday School. They all enjoyed it and are are all Christian believers to this day.

    The parents seem to take the line of least resistance as they have become lazy in their duty as parents. This is just my opinion and there will be plenty of people  who will disagree.

    Reply
    • December 20, 2018 at 5:55 am
      Permalink

      Hi Jill, That’s wonderful to read about what it was like when you were young and about Mrs. Crankshaw. I can almost picture your experiences because of being part of that same era when things like that were more common. I’m also glad to hear about your own children.

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:22 pm
    Permalink

    Hello Danette, I really enjoyed reading your post. I’m not an American but I was in America a couple of months ago. I went  to church a couple of times and all the times I went, I couldn’t find anyone in my age group. I found that really strange. So i believe you are right, there is a great disparity between how the church was then as to how it is right now.  I believe that things like this need to be talked about and addressed. 

    Thanks again for sharing.Keep up the good work Danette, God bless you!

    Reply
    • December 20, 2018 at 6:22 am
      Permalink

      You’re welcome, and thank you, too. I hope that you can be an encouragement to others, whether it be in your country or in whatever country you may visit. We need each other!

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:37 pm
    Permalink

    Hello Danette,

    How nice it is to read your article. How happy were those children with their healthy games always taken care of by the pastor.

    All united around the church and our Lord God, how happy we were. 

    My childhood was spectacular like yours, I hope the world changes for the better.

    Thank you very much for sharing. 

    Regards! Claudio

    Reply
    • December 20, 2018 at 6:38 am
      Permalink

      You’re welcome, Claudio. And thanks for commenting. Yes, I too hope to see changes for the better in people’s lives, as they come to know Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever! God bless you!

      Reply
  • December 18, 2018 at 10:38 pm
    Permalink

    thank you for sharing what it was like growing up in your church when you were younger. Like you I had lots of fun in my youth group and did all sorts of activities.

    Hopefully kids are still doing lots of fun things in youth groups today, while at the same time always putting a God doesn’t in their lives. Because now a days we sure need him.

    Thank you again for this wonderful story.

    Reply
    • December 20, 2018 at 6:55 am
      Permalink

      You’re welcome, and thanks for commenting, Michael. I’m glad you had a similar experience growing up. You’re right that we sure need God nowadays. And it seems that the older I get, the more I realize how much I need Him!

      Reply
  • December 23, 2018 at 2:06 am
    Permalink

    Wow, this brought back so many wonderful memories. I didn’t have this growing up, but when I was married with kids of our own, I started working with our youth. And my kids came with us because we never had a babysitter. So our kids grew up amongst the youth until they were officially “youth” lol.
    I had the joy of working with youth groups for 25 years. I’ve now retired as we’ve moved out in the country, but still, wonder what they’re up to on a Friday night.
    We are fortunate to have a church with a large, active youth group. But like you said, it’s not that common anymore. It’s sad really. Many of these kids come from difficult homes and it’s the only place they can hear about God.
    Blessings,
    Suzanne

    Reply
    • December 31, 2018 at 11:35 pm
      Permalink

      That brings a smile when you say you still wonder what they’re doing on a Friday night. It shows how much you put your heart into serving them and getting to know them.
      I’m glad to hear there is a good youth group in the church you go to now. I wish this were more common, but I’m so thankful for places where youth do have the opportunity to hear about God and to know Him, and where they feel welcomed and loved.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *