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7 Issues We Need To Talk About In Our Youth Groups!

 —  October 24, 2013 — 26 Comments

youthgroup_logoHere are a few topics I believe we as youth workers need to speak on in our ministries. I do believe that the increase in the statistics of these areas is largely due to social media. So as you read through think about how is social media affecting these areas and how can you affectively address them in your ministry. Notice that I don’t give solutions, because I believe every youth group is different and you know your students better. I wrote this to hopefully open our eyes a bit to what could potentially be going on in our youth groups.

  1. Bullying: (Source: stageoflife.com) – Bullying is still prevalent as it has always been, but with social media it has increased. Now students can be bullied 24 hours around the clock. 91% admit to being a victim of bullying.
  2. Texting and Social Media: (Source: stageoflife.com) - 57% of teens credit their mobile device with improving their life. They also see it as key to their social life. The average teen spent 31 hours a week online which is like 5 hours a day via a poll done in 2009. I can imagine that number has grown with the infusion of smart phones.
  3. Sex: (Source: diseasecontrolcenter) – 47.4% of the students surveyed had sexual intercourse and out of the 47.4% that had sex 39.8% of those students did not use protection. 15.3% admitted to having sex with 4 or more people during their lifetime.
  4. Drugs and Alcohol: (Source: SADD) – Statistically 72% of all students will have consumed alcohol by the end of high school. 37% have done so before the eighth grade. 6.7% of teens between the ages of 12-17 have smoked marijuana.
  5. Body Image: (source: stageoflife.com) – More than 90% percent of all girls between the ages 15-17 want to change their appearance. Body weight is ranking the highest. 13% admit to having an eating disorder. 7 out of 10 girls believe they don’t measure up or they’re not good enough concerning their looks, performance in school and relationships. 12% of teen boys are using unproven supplements and/or steroids to improve their body image. 44% of teens use skipping meals as a way to lose or control their weight.
  6. Depression: Students are dealing with depression. From the severe to the not so severe, at any rate they are dealing with it. The NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) states that 1 in 5 teens have experienced depression.
  7. The Future: (Source: stageoflife.com) – 66% of teens are afraid of the future or life after graduation.

Now, I’m not a huge statistics type of person, but I do believe it paints somewhat of a picture for you and I to internalize into our own ministries. When I look at the numbers, I think, “how would these numbers fair in my ministry?”

Now, I know that there are more than 7 issues, and I also can tell you that these things are happening in my ministry. And if you were to take an honest look into your ministry you would probably say the same. I hope there isn’t anyone out there thinking that none of this is going on in their ministry.

Praying for students and telling them not to do something is not enough.

So the question is, what are some ways, with a Biblical perspective, that we can educate and open up dialogue about these topics with students and parents?

My first suggestion would be to share this with parents and let them know you are here to support students and families that are going through these things.

hope it helps

ac

Aaron Crumbey

Aaron Crumbey

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Aaron Crumbey oversees Pastoral Care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. He cares deeply about sharing Christ with students and seeing them reach their full potential in Christ. He's married with three children, loves family time, sports, movies and all things musical among some other things. He also runs www.yoacblog.com.

26 responses to 7 Issues We Need To Talk About In Our Youth Groups!

  1. Great thoughts Aaron. I would add self-harm and pornography to the list as well. These two issues are so prevalent for our ministry. Of course they could easily be addresses as a part of some of those you mentioned. Many times some of the things you have listed are the very things that lead students I counsel to these. Thanks for the post.

  2. Where I live, youth pastors have to get at least 5 of those topics approved by the church leadership AND THEN get written permission from all of the parents to speak on these things. Failure to complete the procedure leads to disciplinary action and parents threatening to remove their children from youth events.

    One downside is that the procedure usually doesn’t get finished, and the topic must be dropped. Or the parents decide that this is their job and refuse permission. Either way, the children then don’t get the advice that they need.

    • Robski, I’m praying for you… Keep your head up and remeber that all things are possible!

      • Aaron Crumbey

        ditto Andrew!!!!

        Robski,
        Instead of doing a series on these topics. What if you did a workshop and made it available to the parents and students. That way parents that need some wisdom on these topics can get it, and you aren’t exposing the whole youth group to it.

    • Wow. This is disheartening.

      Is there a particular background that you are from?

    • It might be worth trying to have a separate gathering for these topics. If you let your students know what your “Hot Topics” class is all about then they can choose whether or not to let their teen participate. They can see this as an elective and still have the student come to regular youth meetings. If a few students find such a class helpful and meaningful, others may hear about it and join in when their parents feel they have the maturity to participate. This would set up the dynamic where you only have to get the approval the one time when you establish the class and the onus is on the parents to choose whether or not to have their students participate rather than having one or two parents disctate what the whole group can discuss.

    • Sounds more like a public school system then an actual church. I find this to be extremely discouraging.

      What is the church affiliation?

  3. I will be doing a series on bullying with our students in the near future. SYM or anyone else, can you direct me to resources that will assist me in preparing for the subject?

  4. Wow Aaron…. I think you just helped me figure out the first series of the new year! Thanks bro!

    • Aaron Crumbey

      That’s awesome Justin!!! Sometimes we have to expose those things that are done in secret before people start talking about them. We’ve done a series called “Secrets” and you would be amazed at the fact that students want to talk to someone, but they just don’t know how or they feel ashamed so they keep it to themselves. I pray your series starts some much needed dialogues so that healing can start to take place.

  5. Thanks so much for bringing this into focus with statistical data. I have long estimated something somewhat lower than this, but find this totally within the realm of truth. No matter how good you think your youth are, this is truly the most likely representation of the secret life of the american teenager, regardless of demographic.

  6. I would add that “belief in God” are also essentials.I find that students are wrestling with the other issues listed above, in part, because their faith is not central to their worldview.

  7. This is some good stuff to talk about to my youth.

  8. Great article! I really feel blessed & burdened at the same time … the parents of the kids I am blessed to minister to … DO NOT CARE … what their kids are doing as long as they are out of their way. They could care less what I’m talking to them about. So, in a way … it is a blessing because the kids really open up about these topics & God is able to speak through us into their lives.

    My heart breaks that the students, (approx 70), that attend our Wednesday night program … are from un-churched families. We are doing all we can to reach their parents. Our prayer is that through the salvations of these students … their families will be saved.

    One topic we tackle is Media like TV, Movies & Magazines.

    Thanks again, and God bless….

    • Aaron Crumbey

      Thanks Jennifer,
      Keep praying for your students parents. I’ve seen God do the miraculous in that area. We also have a large group of students whose parents aren’t believers. Know that prayer changes things so keep praying.

      ac

  9. Thanks for this add., this helps me a lot :)

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