Youth Group: How do YOU do it?

28 June 2012 — 9 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about how churches choose to run youth groups and would like some feedback on why you do things the way that you do.

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Over the years, we’ve changed the format of a number of our groups for different reasons. We used to run a faith-based group on Thursday nights, but when it attracted lots of young people outside of the church, it slowly lost focus and became more of a social to cater for those young people. As a result, the faith content was diluted and eventually started up as a separate meeting on a Sunday night. Earlier this year that Sunday group moved from the evening to the morning, but the Thursday group still continues.

I’m not convinced we’ve got the balance right and could improve in a number of ways, but it got me wondering what everyone else does. I know of groups that run on Sunday mornings during the main church service, groups that meet Friday night, small groups that meet mid-week with a central gathering Saturday night, groups that do a variety of activities, groups that meet every couple of weeks, the variety is endless just like the names!

So what do you currently do in your church? When do you run your youth programmes and does it work effectively? I’m not interested in content so much (although that’s important), but would like to know what format and timing works for you.

So let loose in the comments and let us know when you run your groups and why!


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

9 responses to Youth Group: How do YOU do it?

  1. When do you run your Church youth group? Sunday? Friday? Why?

  2. I don’t have my own church based youth club but this is how i would run one.I would run it on one night rather than two, as I would open the club earlier for the faith based part of the session then later in the evening open it up for an open access provision (this would be a set time every week). Having half an hour (or however long you decide) before will allow time for the work you want to do with the smaller group, you may even get interest from the young people from the community would would otherwise not attend the faith based sessions because they are interested in what is going on before hand. Having it on one night also means you are not as stretched for volunteers. Friday nights are also hard even though the young people are church based you may find as they get older they will trail off as a Friday night is a very social night, the same goes for the volunteers, we all value our weekends. As for the Sunday work I think it’s important for young people to stay in the main meeting at church, however, saying this a monthly youth meeting could work very well as it gives the youth worker time to address any issues and questions that may have arisen from the main preaches, it also gives opportunity for them to be broken down further if needed.
    Only my humble opinion… Rosie

  3. How do YOU run youth group? Rosie would run faith-based content 1st then open it up as a generic club after: #ywchat

  4. We spent a long time just doing detached work and getting to know young people in the community before opening anything. Then we opened a drop-in (Thursdays)and ran just that for a while to strengthen relationships/trust/respect etc. Then we opened other stuff (Youth Club on Tuesdays and Life Skills on Wednesdays)including a space to explore faith (Sunday evening). I’m not very pro God-slot and so we run activities during the week and get to know the young people through them and then they can come to our faith thing if they want to on the proviso that that’s what we’ll be doing. There’s nothing else there to do. It seems to be going OK so far – we always get young people turn up – and we can see minor changes taking place. It’s only been running for about 7 months so still early days. But now, where we don’t instigate conversations about faith at our other meetings, the young people are now doing just that so the Sunday night stuff is starting to permeate through all the work. Hope that helps.

    • Hi Clive, I really like that approach of getting to know the young people. We run a number of modestly successful ‘community’ youth clubs, but it’s the groups with a specific faith-focus for young people attached to the church that needs a bit more work!

      Ideally I’d want the faith and community stuff to flow together well, but right now they tend to sit in silos…

  5. I was never very pro God slot but we had become very insular as a Sunday night group of Christian youth. So we- as a group started a monthly open access youth group on the sunday still, replacing our discipleship group for that week. We have included a ‘god-slot’ for want of a better word, at the end, for 15 minutes, but the theme is run throughout via Facebook and the grafitti wall asking questions and hbing discussions on the theme. It tends to be broad and life based rather than bible based but one of the volunteers, hopefully even some young people in the future will bring it together with their faith.
    We’ve been amazed that nearly every one of the non Christian young people stay for this bit because they have something to say. This in time will leave the ground open for them to come to our weekly Sunday night.
    I’ve always found god slots to be forced and embarrassing but something about this works well. We also did detached to start building relationships but mostly people have come through word of mouth.

    I think it depends what culture you are in, what your existing yps are interested in and what your volunteers will buy into. Obviously, also what God is saying! But we found it helpful praying with our yps inthe months before launching the bigger club and they were getting the vision and passion and structure for it.

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