That’s a great question! To get an insider’s perspective, we asked youth group alumna, Emily Russak to give us her take on this whole ‘Youth Group thang’. Check out her article below
When you’re juggling school, a social life, clubs, sports, and work, scheduling youth group into your week is easier said than done. Not to mention that showing up to a new place where you don’t know anyone is daunting, especially when you’re a teenager. Be that as it may, people aren’t kidding when they say you should check out youth group. It’s one of the best places you could be when you’re a teenager, and in my experience, as well as hundreds of other regular youth group attendees, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Whether you’re new at ICC, just entering middle school, or considering attending a new youth group, here are some reasons why you should definitely consider checking out FUEL or the EDGE.
First of all, it’s an easy way to connect with other teens and make friends. Being a teenager is hard! One of the best ways to cope is by finding a secure group of good friends and trustworthy mentors to vent to, get advice from, and just hang out with. At youth group, the balance between socializing, scheduled games and activities, and the worship service is ideal for meeting new people. When you’re all in the same place at the same event, you automatically have tons of great conversation starters, and it’s easy to share laughs when you’re playing a game. Older teens and adult sponsors are also available to chat or pray with when you feel like you need a little extra guidance and aren’t sure who to turn to. “I know that my friends at youth group understand what I’m going through, and that’s encouraging,” says one freshman in Fuel, Tim. His friend Lauren chips in, “Sometimes it’s enough just to know that other people can relate to what you’re dealing with.” Lifelong friendships are made and solidified in youth group, and the proof of that can be witnessed in countless Fuel graduates who still keep in touch with old youth group friends, myself included!
Youth group also gives teens a place to relax and recharge. “I just felt like a complete fish out of water in public school,” says a Fuel graduate. “It’s so valuable to have a group of friends that not only share your beliefs but also understand that feeling. It helps get you through the week sometimes.” So yes, it can seem like making time for another event out of the week may sound draining, but for most teens that attend, it actually has the complete opposite effect. It’s an event they eagerly look forward to; a chance to catch up with friends and a safety net all in one. “You don’t have to be on your guard at youth group,” says freshman, Stephanie. “You can have fun with your friends and trust that nothing bad or crazy is going to go down.” It’s refreshing to have that faith in your peers and to trust them enough that you can truly be yourself.
Most importantly, making a point of attending youth group is an excellent and easy way to carve out time for God into your schedule. The messages are designed for teens, and it’s so valuable to have a youth pastor committed to bringing the Word specifically to your age group. The struggles and temptations that come with being a teenager are pretty unique and rapidly changing, so it’s important to have adult mentors committed to witnessing to you and your peers. Busy schedules also have a way of seeming a lot less chaotic when you’ve got your eyes fixed on God. When you have your priorities in order, it puts everything else in perspective, and God gives you the wisdom and the energy to maintain balance and order in your life. Though giving up a Wednesday or Friday night may seem difficult, it pretty soon comes to be a weekly check-in that you depend on to give yourself a breather and give your night to God.
As Stephanie summarizes, “It’s a place where you can be challenged in your faith and make friends who share your beliefs, and it’s also a really easy way to hang out with all your friends every Friday night!”
There’s more testimonies, friendships, experiences and encounters with God that happen in youth group I could tell you about, but the truth is that youth group is really meant to be experienced. Come on down to FUEL or the EDGE and see for yourself!
-Emily Russak, Trending at ICC blog contributor
FUEL’s Winter Retreat is coming up! Get the details here.
the EDGE’s Winter Retreat is March 16-18. Details to come.