‘SELECT names FROM youths GROUP BY age’

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?

God forbid!

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: β€œBut 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. πŸ™‚

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

P.S. In case you are wondering, the title is a pun off of SQL.

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17 Responses

  1. Most of my life I haven’t had people my age to hang around. I think that it has made me mature alot faster than most teens my age. You are totally right. Good post!

  2. Yes! Awesome! I don’t know what you believe as to predestination but I am in the middle of a debate at:

    http://www.heedtheprophecies.com/theunderground/topic.php?id=236&page=10#post-43517

    I’m not very logical but … yeah. πŸ˜› I like debating. lol

    • Hahaha…. Oh boy. Maybe someday I will write about my views on that subject. I couldn’t find much of what you said on that thread, but I would be interested to know what you believe.

      I try to avoid debating that issue, actually. It is rarely very profitable in my experience. No offense. πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks Jay, very good point.

    Amicus Dominus Vobiscum
    Jackson

  4. WOW! I never thought about it that way! I guess I’m blessed to be in a small church without a youth group.

    • We are in a small church as well, but the youth still group, which is annoying. We abstain from their grouping, and so feel rather ‘outside,’ but we really don’t mind, as we are outside all the time anyways. πŸ™‚ We do interact with them, but we tend to think too much for their taste. Haha. We naturally incline to the adults and their conversation, even our 11 and 8 year olds.

    • Well, seeing as I’m the only teen in my church, it’s a little bit hard to have a youth group. πŸ˜›

      Yeah, I was a little bit taken aback when I realized how much your family thinks, but I don’t mind, because I know I don’t think enough. πŸ™‚

    • Ah, yes, that would make it a bit hard. Haha.

      Thinking is a beautiful, and glorious thing. Especially when done for God’s glory. It is pretty hard to do anything well without thinking.

  5. I would be in the “really excited” category. πŸ™‚ Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to write this out! It was definitely worth reading, and, of course, that is pretty muchly our view on youth groups as well.

    YLGP

  6. You are welcome, POMTL. πŸ˜€

  7. I see your point, but I’m not sure if I entirely understand, are you then saying that young people should not do things together (play games/sports etc.? Because if you’re saying that they shouldn’t study God’s word together, they shouldn’t be doing other things together either, right? At our church, we have a “parent/youth group” where each young person attending is accompanied by at least one of his/her parents, so if you’re just saying that young people and parents should not be separated for events, this would be fine, right? I’m sorry if I’m misunderstanding you, :-I.

    • The principle here is one of mentorship. Fellowship is a form of mentorship, but it isn’t to the degree of studying the Bible together or whatnot. The main problem comes when everything you do is exclusively with people your own age.

      That said, sports can be done in a family environment. I’m not saying include your seven year old sister in your football game, that would be ludicrous. But you can do sports as a family, and it is better so. Your father should be a personal coach, and a primary one at that. Sports should not be an escape from mentorship, but a means to that end.

      Does that help?

      I like that idea; it is going in a good direction. But it is still far from ideal, because that separates the parents, which is even worse. The family is broken up, which is the big problem: they aren’t learning as a unit under a single message.

    • I see what you mean, thanks!

    • No problem! My pleasure. πŸ™‚

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