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Throughly frustrated with my youth group

Discussion in 'Traditional Adventists' started by Eve4000, Jan 19, 2008.

  1. Eve4000

    Eve4000 Senior Veteran

    If you want to get to the point of this, go straight down to the bullet points. if you wanna read my rant, go ahead. Godspeed.

    As some of you may or may not know, i am the Youth leader in my church, and being the youth leader, I am also the Sabbath school teacher. So, every Sabbath I go to teach the weekly lesson [We use the Collegiate Lesson.] So I go into Sabbath school around 10 am [late, bad me.], ask the 2 people [Ruth and Aaron] how their weeks went. They tell, we get a little distracted, as always, but we get to the lesson, which is on Discipleship, and, of course, no one read the lesson, despite the fact that I printed out extras for anyone who didn't have the book. Nevertheless, we try and get into it. Except for Aaron derailing us at times we're on a pretty good pace when Simon comes in. We ask Simon how his week was [crummy, he's sick. plz pray for him] and we continue with the lesson. But then Juliette comes in around 10:30. As soon as she comes in, it's like everything else doesn't matter, because of her random comments about everything and anything except the lesson every 2 seconds. Literally, it goes like this:

    Yvonne: So, Discipleship is similar to--
    Juliette: Oh my gosh, I went to see Battle of the Bands last night and blah blah blah I bought a bunch of stuff blah blah blah and I was yelling to the guys on stage and blah blah blah--
    Yvonne: OK! Back to the lesson! Discipleship! *deep breath* It's similar to--
    Juliette: Oh man, I saw Cloverfield a little while ago...

    And then the others get distracted and on it goes, so by the time Sam and Josh come, all they know is that the class is talking about how much they're dreading the sermon, Juliette being insane for sneaking out her house through the window, and mutant aliens destroying New York City. So the class isn't only derailed, it's totally off course and headed towards the Lake of Doom. Everytime we try to get back to the lesson, something distracts everyone, and even when we're on the lesson, no one knows what I'm talking about because they didn't read it during the week. I feel like I'm the only person there who's concerned about anything having to do with church, and the sad part is that's mostly true. Some years ago we had a thriving youth group, but after our former leader resigned we've been dormant for 3 years. I really want the youth to understand the Bible and not just be apathetic to church and what not, because if they stay as the church benchwarmers, I'm pretty certain that as soon as I leave for college this August, the church will die. But I dunno what to do with these people if no one cares and no one even pretends to listen.

    So, what I'm trying to say is:
    • The youth group I'm the leader of is generally apathetic.
    • They don't take the Sabbath school seriously
    • They don't take church seriously
    • They won't even let me teach because we keep getting derailed no matter how many times i try to get back on topic
    • If something doesn't happen with us soon, our church will die
    • and I am at a loss for what to do.
    Any suggestions?
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. RND

    RND Senior Veteran

    Be a leader.

    Set up some simple rules and guidelines for your group and stick to them. For example, maybe you could simply state from now on, when in group, the focus must be on the lesson, not on themselves. If they can't be respectful of the others in the group or the lesson then they will be asked to leave.

    This problem didn't just happen one day - but seems rather to have been brewing for some time and that an unacceptable pattern of behavior and lack of respect for other's and the lesson in general has become "acceptable."

    Proverbs 22:6
    Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

    I'll say a prayer that next Sabbath goes much better for you.
  3. Cliff2

    Cliff2 Well-Known Member

    Tell me something new. Sorry but what you have described is very much the "norm" in the Adventist Church.

    I take my hat off to you for keeping on trying and please keep trying. Do not give up, one of my kids may be in your class one day and I want a good teacher there.
  4. Avonia

    Avonia Just look through the telescope . . .

    In Relationship
    Hi Eve! First, thanks for being willing to do this work. Blessings to you for that.

    I taught in an Adventist youth Sabbath school class for 5 years. Groups can be greatly affected by only a couple of kids. For the good or for the not so good! You may also have kids there that are forced to attend by their parents. This can make it much more difficult.

    Although I agree with RNDs advice about leadership and the right to ask someone to leave, it's something I would do only as a last resort.

    Here are a few things I've learned – recognizing that my situtation may have been much different than yours is now.

    1. Power vs. control. Power can be quite soft. A powerful leader doesn't have to cling to control. If you feel comfortable with your leadership role, you can afford your students a bit more degress of freedom without getting thrown.

    2. Don’t go into fear. If you go into negative emotions, they will know it immediately. No matter how bad it gets, don't get angry or frusterated. This is the quickest way to move from a position of leadership to a position where all you can do is have a war of force.

    3. I found it quite useful to actually know what my kids were talking about with references to culture, music, entertainment, and other things. I was quite young myself, so that might have helped.

    4. The moment it starts to go "off course" ask questions to the person(s) drifting. If they are talking about music, ask a question. If they are talking about TV, ask a question. It sounds like you are struggling to bet back into "the circle." Don't get out to begin with.

    5. Let them have some type of choice on the front end. Invest them in the process. I would go with three or four ideas for topics and let them choose from those or something they would suggest. This was a real turning point for me. I stopped boxing everything in on the front end by "preparing." They know this makes you more vulnerable, and they will appreciate the faith you have in them.

    6. Talk to as many kids 1-to-1 as you can. Before the class begins. In the hall. In the grocery store. At school. Many kids crave relationships where they can ask questions and know their trust will not be violated. They may be much more honest and direct with you than they will be with their parents or teachers.

    7. There are times when it's fine to totally "loose control" for a bit. When we stay in our own joy, lighten up, and just roll with it, chaos can sometimes be quite restorative. Kids are confined a lot already. Sometimes they have to vent a bit.

    Eve, I may have had it easy, so the last thing I want is for my advice to discourage you. If there's something helpful, try it. If it doesn't work, keep at it and keep asking other people for ideas.

    Remember, you have a lot of help for this – God is with you.
  5. JonMiller

    JonMiller Senior Veteran

    Good for you for working with it. It should be clear that this class is for studying, and that if people want to visit that they can do so oustide of the class.

    Youth should be treated as adults (these are people over age 14, right?) and should be given more rights and responsbilities. That includes not taking part if they want, but if they don't want to take part they should own up to that and not disturb others.

    When I was 13-17 I would go in and sleep (even 18+), but I didn't talk about other things to disrupt the class.

  6. moicherie

    moicherie True Brit

    Ok i remember such happenings.... most of the time it due to boredom or the fact that in that stage of life for some youth church is just another routine, and being a Christian is a routing as being an American, Russian or whatever nationality. Perhaps they are not interested in the topic? There is no law that one has to stick to exactly what is in the lesson guide. Ask them what they would like to talk about.
  7. juneil

    juneil Member

    Eve, don't be frustrated.
    I was once a youth leader in my time and I had the same problem too. You should open this up to the church board for them to advice you. What we did in our church was, we organized a Sabbath school quiz. Ofcourse you should have nice prizes (nice prize are something not expensive but good to have). The quiz must be focus to the topic or shuold be get in the weekly lesson in the Sabbath school. Thats one motivation you can do in the church.

    Dont be discourage about this things in the church. You should get this as a challenge and you must pray earnestly. Be a good example as a leader.

    My prayers is in you.