What comes to your mind when you think of a youth group? Wild and crazy games to keep teens engaged? Maybe you envision a parental date night free of molding the modern-day adolescent? Maybe you just want your teen to have positive role models and to grow in their love for Jesus. What does your teen want? Eh, probably “to not to”.1 Duh. Unless you have the very outgoing teen that thrives on games, snacks and socialization; in that case, everyone probably hangs out in your basement!
What, if any, was your youth group experience? Maybe your parents dropped you off at the church curb and left you to awkwardly navigate socializing with kids you didn’t know; or maybe you got to go on really fun retreats and laugh and ice skate with friends. Jesus and God were mixed in there somewhere, maybe even the Holy Spirit, but what effect did it have on you? Maybe you went to a great youth group with solid teaching and transforming ministry to your soul. Regardless, the Bible is God’s word, therefore it pierces to the thoughts and intents of the heart2; is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness3; and most importantly it could not, and did not “return void”4 in your life. In other words, there was a return on the investment. Something was successfully accomplished. Others may not have seen it, and you may not have felt it, but like an asparagus seedling that can take up to 6 years to grow,5 something took root. Something happened to your soul.
In the gospel of Matthew, we learn from The Parable of the Sower that when anyone hears the message about the kingdom of God, spiritual seed is sown.6 But then what happens? Jesus tells us that sometimes Satan snatches away what was sown in the heart. Jesus called him the “evil one”. There are evil spiritual forces at war for the hearts of our children!7 Sometimes our children hear the word and are happy about it, but the effect does not seem to last because they are distracted by troubles or persecution. Sometimes worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke out the seed from becoming fruitful. But, when the seed of the word of God is heard and understood, it produces an abundant crop! Jesus then goes on to explain in The Parable of the Weeds,8 that people can’t always tell if someone has a weed or good seed growing and so time, protection and growth is required. Are we as parents exposing our children to good seed and protecting their hearts and minds as they grow?
Did you know that most teens share the religion of their parents or legal guardians with 48% claiming to have “all the same” beliefs as their parent?9 The same survey found that almost 75% of teens were able to accurately answer the researchers about how important religion is to their parent. This is likely enhanced by the fact that 88% attended services as a family.10 In other words, the survey showed that it is important for the parent to model and participate in the religious activities they desire to instill in their children. Are you worried that your teen will not like participating in church or youth group? The Pew Research Center authors shed some light on this concern as well: “Among teens who say they participate because their parents want them to, 79% also say they get at least some enjoyment from it”.11
Youth group at Cornerstone Community Church in Joppa, Maryland, is called Breakaway. Breakaway at Cornerstone is focused on teaching sound biblical doctrine to rescue lost souls and foster Christian growth in a setting that that includes fun and friends. The Breakaway team values the relationship between leaders and students and works to foster godly peer to peer relationships so that teens can enjoy both a relationship with Jesus and with one another. Breakaway is a unique youth group in that the leaders interact with parents to keep them informed of what is being taught to the teens, obtain feedback, and to come alongside the family to minister to them. At Breakaway, kids are considered a joy and the mission is to see them have to a legitimate relationship with Christ.
Now, let’s circle back to the plant analogy. High in the Himalayan Mountains, stretching from northern India to Japan, grows the giant Himalayan lily. “For most of its life, it exists as an unassuming clump of glossy leaves, but after five to seven years, it mysteriously sprouts up to three meters (9.8 feet) and produces a gift of delicate, trumpet-shaped flowers.”12 Don’t lose heart parents! With good seed, protection and time the word of God will not return void! There is triumph in Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
But thanks be to God, who always leads us triumphantly as captives in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one, we are an odor of death and demise; to the other, a fragrance that brings life. And who is qualified for such a task?13
Won’t you join us? Breakaway meets on Sundays at 5 p.m. at Cornerstone Community Church in Joppa, Maryland. If you would like a pastor or leader to call you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us through our webpage at https://cornerstonejoppa.org/contact-us/.
1 Cars. (2006). Larry the Cable Guy: Mater. IMDb.com
2 Bible Hub. Hebrews 4:12. Accessed on January 14, 2021 from https://biblehub.com/hebrews/4-12.htm
3 Bible Hub. 2 Timothy 3:16. Accessed on January 14, 2021 from https://biblehub.com/2_timothy/3-16.htm
4Bible Hub. Isaiah 55:11. Accessed on January 14, 2021 from https://biblehub.com/isaiah/55-11.htm
5Fleeman, C. (2018). Which vegetables take the longest to grow from seed? Quora. Accessed January 14, 2021 from https://www.quora.com/Which-vegetables-take-the-longest-to-grow-from-seed
7Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
9Diamant, J. & Podrebarac Sciupac, E. 10 Key Findings About the Religious Lives of U.S. Teens and Their Parents. Fact Tank: News in the Numbers. Pew Research Center. Published online September 10, 2020. Accessed on January 14, 2021 from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/09/10/10-key-findings-about-the-religious-lives-of-u-s-teens-and-their-parents/
11Diamant, J. & Podrebarac Sciupac, E. 10 Key Findings About The Religious Lives of U.S. Teens and Their Parents. Fact Tank: News in the Numbers. Pew Research Center. Published online September 10, 2020. Accessed on January 14, 2021 from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/09/10/10-key-findings-about-the-religious-lives-of-u-s-teens-and-their-parents/
12Grant, S. 10 of The Slowest Plants to Ever Bloom. Our World. Published online August 11, 2013. Listverse Ltd. Accessed on January 14, 2021 from https://listverse.com/2013/08/11/10-ridiculously-slow-to-bloom-plants/
13The Bible Hub. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (Berean Study Bible). Accessed on January 14, 2021 from https://biblehub.com/2_corinthians/2-15.htm