The Mysterious Case of the Invisible Youth Group

December 27th, 2019

Does your community know your youth group exists? If you live and serve in Manhattan, we’re not talking about the whole city. In that context, maybe your community only extends as far as the boundaries of your neighborhood. If you live in a small town, then maybe your community consists of everything within the city limits. In any case, does anybody know about your youth group outside of your kids and their parents? 

Before you play the, “I don’t care what people think, I only care what God thinks” card, you might want to check out Matthew 16:13, where Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” Apparently, sometimes this kind of question is important. So once again, does your community know about your youth group?

Some of you still might want to push back, asking, “Why is this important?” Again, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16) The point is that you’re probably doing some pretty cool stuff with your ministry. But if the light from your work never escapes from the room where you meet then you’re depriving your community of an opportunity to see God at work. So, a new year is about to start. If your group is invisible to your community, you might want to change things up a bit. Jesus says the Father will be honored. Give it a try and see if He’s right (spoiler alert: He is.)

So how exactly do you do this? Actually, the idea isn’t complicated. You can get some clues as to how to proceed by asking two simple questions: 1) What do the kids in your group do really well? 2) How can you leverage those skills to help people out in the community? Here are some examples:

  • Got a bunch of jocks in your group? Have ‘em put on a sports clinic for some grade school kids (maybe some that live below the poverty line) who want to get better at baseball, soccer, etc.
  • Got some crazy-good musicians? Do a pop-up concert somewhere. Do a benefit show for a local charity. Give some free music lessons to some of those (maybe impoverished) grade school kids.
  • Got some car guys in your group? Organize a day where they do oil changes and minor maintenance for some cars that belong to senior citizens or people who don’t have a lot of cash.
  • Got nerds? Computer classes.
  • Smart kids? Tutoring.
  • Artists? Writers? Foodies? You get the picture. The possibilities are endless.

In addition to this making your invisible youth group visible, it can also have a major impact on the kids doing the serving. Lives could be changed in every direction. God’s very clever in that way. You think you’re doing one thing. He’s using your efforts to do ten things, seven of which you’ll never know about until we’re all trading stories up in heaven some day.

While the above ideas are pretty simple, their implementation may be complicated. So make sure and put your best people on this. If the community is watching, you want things to run smoothly. Also, check with your church’s business manager to make sure everything is properly insured. And finally, think about reaching out to the local media. They could significantly multiply the number of people who hear about what you’re doing. 

If all this makes sense to you, get busy! 2020 is almost here. Plan to give your community something to talk about in the New Year. Watch God change some lives in the bargain. It might just be that the first life God changes is yours. 


John hales from Ventura, California where he grew up surfing and playing guitar. He graduated second in his class from Pepperdine University and then attended Fuller Theological Seminary. His first call was to Community Presbyterian Church, also in Ventura, where he worked with high school students. He subsequently held positions with Young Life, The American Church in London, Kings College – University of London, and Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently on staff at North Point Community Church’s Buckhead Campus. He serves there as the Director of Staff Development and the Director of Starting Point.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.