It is often difficult for young people (or older people) to get to know other Adventist young people in their community. Youth in school together have a great advantage in getting to know other students particularly in smaller Schools such as Adventist Academies. However today it is often not possible or preferable to send a student away from the home to an Adventist school. Many areas with Adventist day schools will not have the ability to educate the high school youth. This leaves the Adventist church in such communities as the only resource to facilitate engagement between Adventist youth in the community.
What I am proposing is that local Adventists church band together to establish such a youth group that meets either weekly or biweekly for social activities. Youth from the Lacey,
Of course the keys to this working is going to be consistency and the involvement of the youth. It should not be about adults trying to entertain the youth. Once youth have a few friends they are quite capable of entertaining themselves. What we want to do is provide a safe and Christian environment for the youth and also provide them with the continuous opportunity of meeting and getting to know new people. For this to work we must get the youth to agree to come to the evenings (not all of them of course by try for at least 50%), to assist in planning the activities for the evenings and to be willing to mix with people other then they may already be familiar with.
The choice of a meeting time will likely be either a Saturday or Sunday evening as midweek often interferes with studies.
Often the status quo is the highest authority for groups of people. In other words it is easier to do nothing different then to do something different. Doing something is a risk whereas doing nothing risks nothing, however when the risk of failure only puts the group back at the status quo then the risk is only found in the fear of failure. But we can’t deny that the fear exists and it exists for the young people also. We are asking them to change their habits and behaviors and we as leaders will also have to change our habits and behaviors. The benefits are huge however and not just for the young people but also for the leaders as they get to know the young people and also for the family’s of those involved getting to know each other better. As a church most of us know about the need for some close friends but as a church we provide in general nothing to enable friendships. Friendships are built over time and developed when people become acquainted and find commonalities that bring them closer. Occasional outings or potlucks however nice they may be when one has relationships within the church do not supply the familiarity that is needed to create real friends.
Of course for adults or families who already have many friends would be a valuable asset to the establishment of this type of program. As their natural skills could bring in more involvement as well as model the type of friendships we hope to encourage.
I am not going to go over the importance of acceptance by teens either among other teens or their families or their church. I assume most know about this already and are aware of the isolation which can cause so many problem for teenagers. In the past churches were not only central to the religion of a community but central to the social activities of the community. As communities have grown this old style of church relevance has been lost, but it could be returned though not for the larger community certainly for the particular denominational community and those within that church communities influence. This program is a step toward that goal.