Youth Group vs. Youth Ministry


Group [This post is part of the Youth Ministry 101 series]

If you are involved in youth ministry for any period of time, you are likely to hear the gathering of teenagers referred to as the youth group.  In literal terms, I suppose the term is accurate; there is a group of youth that have gathered together and grow together.  While the terminology may be accurate in definition, some of the implications that come along with it are opposed to the goal of not only youth minsitry, but the Christian faith.

Youth Groups Exist for the Sake of Themselves

When you hear the term "youth group," what is it saying about those who have gathered?  A youth group is a group of teenagers gathered for the sake of the group.  A youth group is a great place to hang out and stay out of trouble; it's a great alternative to hanging out with other groups of teenagers on a friday night.  A youth group exists for the sake of those inside of the group.  It's a group of friends and leaders that exist for each other's sake.  It may even be a valuable faith growth experience as they study the Bible, but the primary function of the group is not about looking outside of themselves.

Youth Ministry Exists for the Sake of Others

On the other hand when you hear the term "youth ministry," a different word sticks out.  A youth ministry exists for the sake of ministering to teenagers.  This can be ministering to a group of teenagers that have gathered as a part of a weekly program, but it is also in existence for the sake of those who have not yet stepped foot into the church.  A youth ministry shepherds those on the inside, while challenging and empowering them to continually live on mission to those on the outside.  A youth ministry should proudly shepherd the flock that it's been given, but it must also continually seek to look outside of themselves as they minister to all people.

What do you see as some of the dangers of being a "youth group" over a "youth ministry"?

Photo Credit: erinaudreychiu

2 Comments