Well, here at last is the long awaited post. I pray it will be worth the wait.
I will first begin with the word Youth. What the Bible thinks of youths, what they are, and what they should be.
There are several senses to the various words translated as Youth in the Bible. There are relative meanings, specific meanings, and rather abstract meanings. Some words in certain contexts mean someone before they reach puberty. Other words in other contexts mean someone under forty. Others mean the time of life between pre-adolescence and manhood. I will focus on this last.
There are many attached connotations to the concept of youth in the Bible. These include, but are not limited to:
Newness, Strength, Immaturity, Lawlessness, Foolishness, Weakness, Inexperience, Arrogance, and Sinfulness.
1 Samuel 17:33 And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou [art but] a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.
Psalms 103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good [things; so that] thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Proverbs 7:7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
Isaiah 40:30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Quite a nice collection there. But they make sense. A youth is someone who is coming out of childhood, but isn’t all the way out yet. He is new to responsibility, and therefore makes mistakes. He is closer to the sins of his childhood, and has not grown battle hardened in the wars against his soul. However, he is not tired out physically. He has not had decades of weary labor and illness to wrack his frame, and he is very able to withstand hardships in his body. His flesh is strong, wherein is his strength… and his weakness.
This is an overview. A generalization. Many youths are mature at a young age, due to good training and/or premature hardships. Many adults are worse than I described above. But in general, these are the natural tendencies of the time of youth.
Does this mean that we have an excuse?
Does this mean that we have no hope?
This means that we know our enemy. This means that we know our gifts. This means that we know our calling: to stop being youths.
We need to mature. We need to grow strong in the battles of this world. We need to gain experience and wisdom. We need to war against our flesh and train it to be a willing and submissive tool to the will of our Heavenly Father and His Kingdom.
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
What is Paul saying here? He is saying two things: 1) Don’t let your youth be a stumbling block to your ministry, and 2) Be representative of (and therefore uphold the standard of) the Church and Christ in every area of your life.
Paul gave Timothy no breaks: he expected him to be as mature and godly as the rest of the church, as Christ.
In other words, Paul wanted Timothy to act not as a youth, but as a man.
So that is our goal as youth: to mature out of it. To learn, to grow, to strengthen, to reach, to excel, to work, to strive, to master, to challenge.
So how do you group youths Biblically?
Well, what does the Bible say about grouping?
Proverbs 13:20 He that walketh with wise [men] shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
This verse is representative of a common theme through the Bible: you become like those you walk with, or group with.
Therefore if you want to become a good programmer, you hang out with good programmers. You will gain access to their resources, to their wisdom, and their experience, and will become like them until other aspiring programmers will begin to hang out with you.
The same goes for youths and maturity.
If we are to mature, we need to group with those who are more mature than us. If we are to grow, we need to group with those who are more grown up than us. If we are to reach, we need to group with those who are taller than us. If we are to master, we need to group with those who have mastered more than us.
Not with our peers.
Suddenly you may be seeing where I have been going (or perhaps the more perspicacious of you already noticed it), and you are suddenly saying: “But that is what youth groups are! They are where all the youth group together under a teacher so that he can teach them what is applicable to them.”
Let me ask you this: Are they grouping with him, or with each other under him (or not under him as the case may be)?
Any amount of honest examination will tell you that youth groups are groupings of youths with youths, categorized and separated by peer class. There is insufficient supervision, insufficient leadership, and insufficient mentorship.
The proper/best ratio of mentor to youth is 1/1 (at least while the mentoring is going on). The farther you are from this ratio, the less effective it is. Therefore the concept of Youth Groups is utterly the opposite of what the Bible wants.
The Bible wants mentors, fathers, pastors, families, not youth groups. (By the way, if you are going to attack me and say that this applies to Sunday School too, you are right, it does.)
Youths need to be with their families, learning the same things they are learning: how to be a father, how to be a mother, how to be a good parent, how to work, how to be an adult. In youth groups they are generally learning how to be a youth: not good.
Hope you are either really good and mad, or really excited. 🙂
With joy and peace in Christ,
P.S. In case you are wondering, the title is a pun off of SQL.