Creating welcoming youth groups
Is your youth group good at letting new people feel at home?
Thinking again about cliques.
In my previous article, we saw that our heavenly Father’s desire is for his people to live and worship together in what I have called “communities of mutual love”. The model for this love comes from the mutual love relationships between the Trinity. This love expresses itself in a commitment to the good of the other, to please them and to embody grace and humility. In this way, we learn that love towards God can be expressed in love towards our neighbour. We must remember though, that mutual love relationships are not something that we can do ourselves. Sin has corrupted the possibility to do “the good” for others. It is only through our redemption in Jesus, and the ongoing work of the Spirit, that mutual love relationships can become a reality.
Implications for your youth group
As we think about our youth groups, churches and personal relationships this has some important implications:
i. We are created in God’s image as personal and relational beings. It is entirely appropriate to have close friends whom we associate with and have common interests.
ii. However, when these relationships become “closed” they can create alienation and division, which is neither God’s desire or plan. To create a clique and therefore to exclude another person, is to effectively disobey God and his purposes for his people. Which, in the context of Romans 1 is ungodliness and wickedness.
iii. As Christians, we are to consider our neighbour and seek their “good” above our own. This ultimately pleases God the Father and gives glory to Jesus as we follow his example.
iv. Mutual love binds us to each other and forms our community. Knowing that someone is personally committed to your good in an unconditional way brings joy that is greater than all other goods. It is through this love and joy together, that Gospel community is created.
v. Finally, sin will continue to affect our relationships and our ability to love as we should. Consequently, our relationships will only be sustained through the practices of repentance and forgiveness as we love each other as Christ has loved us.
Questions for your youth group
1. When have you experienced both the good and the bad side of a clique? How have these experiences shaped you as a Christian person?
2. Jesus is our example of mutual love. What do you find most confronting about Jesus’ life and teaching, especially regrading love for our neighbors?
3. Do you think it is important to be friends (not in a Facebook way) with everyone from your youth group? What makes you think this?
4. What can you do to help make your youth group a community of “mutual love”?