Youth Groups

I have been looking to get my children involved in a youth group at our church - although there is discussion in starting one - the only groups available at the moment are for over 18’s. my two eldest are just in and just about to start highschool - my eldest boy having a lot of trouble fitting in and adjusting to high school life. There is a great youth program (I hear) for 11 - 18 year olds at the local Christian Church but I am torn as to whether to send my kids here or not. It is mainly for the socfial aspect, and we are practicing Catholics I just feel like I am somehow betraying my church?! I’m not sure what to do. I want my kids involved with a nice bunch of kids who love God - and this seems to be my only option! Just looking for some opinions on this subject :slight_smile:
Thanks :slight_smile:

Is there a good reason your church doesn’t already have a youth group program established? Are there too few teenagers, or no one willing to volunteer as a leader?

A bit both I guess ? It’s always hard to find people that are willing to be leaders. I think the Church also feels that they wouldn’t get a lot of teens that would attend. Either way - I am at a loss as to what I should do…

Hmm…well, I hope someone can organize a group at your own church, even it’s just getting together for pizza and a DVD.

Regarding the social aspect----while I grew up in an Evangelical church with a good youth group that was really helpful, and while I’m still happily Evangelical, teenagers are teenagers. They can be mean to each other even in youth groups with good adult oversight. In my church, one girl in my youth group was picked on*–just a little, but it shouldn’t happen at all in churches. She was tall, rail-thin, and gawky, and very shy—amusingly, as an adult she become gorgeous, and was asked to be a model. She and I are still very close friends 30+ years later, and she still attends that same church, so she got over it pretty well. But still, I wouldn’t send my children to any youth group, Catholic or Protestant, if I didn’t know the other kids well.

*Not by me, and I tried to stop it, but teenagers can be self-centered when it comes to amusing themselves at someone else’s expense.

Don’t go to a non-Catholic youth group because they will target your kids fro conversion. If there is not one at your parish, check with other parishes in your area to see if they have any high school and JH groups. Some parishes do share in this. Have you ever talked to your priest or director of Religious ed about trying to start one? If you have a larger religious ed,
you may have a pool of kids to draw from.

Not at all necessarily true, Robwar, by any means.

If I were a Catholic parent interested in educating my children in my Catholic faith I would approach sending the kids to a Christian church youth group with caution. You can expect that the leaders of the youth group will be faithful to their doctrinal statements by teaching a Protestant world view that is inconsistent with a Catholic world view in a few critical areas. Though there is much to be shared between protestantism and catholicism, the areas of difference are dramatic. If you value the RCC’s teaching on its authority, for example, your children will be exposed to teaching that the Bible is the ultimate authority and that the teachings of the church must be tested against it.

I happen to be Protestant. I wouldn’t send my kids to a Catholic youth group for the same reasons I urged you to proceed with caution. Speaking parent-to-parent, I would want to teach my kids about my faith.

If you decide to go forward–I think having Protestant friends is a good thing! ;-)–I suggest that you use this as a learning activity for your kids. Be up front with your kids about what you are doing, and be sure to review what has been taught with your children. Make it a formal part of their training that when they come home they tell you what was said or what they learned so that you would have teaching moments to point out similarities and contrasts with your own beliefs.

One of my complaints about Protestant youth groups is that they tend to be a lot of pizza and music and not much substance. This can work in your favor to make the experience more like a social club and less like indoctrination for your kiddos.

Best wishes!

I think if the church is Christian Disciples of Christ you may be ok. They are mainline Protestants and are unlikely to tell your children things like “you worship Mary, and the pope and will go to hell”. With the Disciples you are more likely to find more a social group atmosphere.

When I was in college we had no Newman club, and so I joined United Campus Ministries which included Disciples and was more a social group with denominational differences avoided.

But if they are independent Christian church I would steer clear, those people tend to be fundamentalists, with all the predjudice that implies.

I’ve been involved in youth ministry for 12 years now. There is no excuse for not having a strong youth ministry in your parish. I am in a small parish and have almost no budget. We have a very successful progam. All it takes is getting some people off their duffs and making it happen. There are plenty of resources out there. This ministry is extremely important, especially in our world today. Make it happen.

thank-you that is what I was trying to say! This is also true with schools as well. Your complaint that youth groups end up being more of a pizza party is true for both Protestant and Catholic. It is a fine line to draw. You want kids to come and if it were too much about doctrine then you do drive away the “less spiritual” kids. I’ve seen Catholic youth groups that get very involved in volunteering and helping the parish or others in need which is good too. But then that can also go overboard in that the youth group becomes used for its volunteerism to do things around the parish. I’ve also seen that parishes with school tend not to have strong youth groups. The kids get to busy with the school and school sports that there is little time left. The ideal would be if there is a strong catechism program that ends up encouraging its children to end up in a youth group from the JV and confirmation and beyond. The OP should check with other churches in the diocese or the office of family life to get help and support to start one in her parish.

Thanks everyone for your feedback. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Might approach my church again to see if they are willing to put a group together …
Or check out other churches - if we have to travel so be it :slight_smile:

I spent lots of time in youth groups in high school and after.

And now I’m no longer Catholic. They’re not always what they’re cracked up to be. :wink:

Hi Nessie. Just one comment. I started a youth group at my Parish. It wasn’t difficult at all. We started by inviting parents to meetings to discuss youth group. We had leaders of successfull youth groups address the parents and after about three month of this we started having youth meetings. The group has since split into 5-8 grades and a highschool group.

By having the meetings with parents, parents felt involved and sent their children to the youth meetings. Some of these parent’s kids didn’t like the youth group so they did not come regularly, but many did. The second effect the parental meetings had, we had a good group of built in volunteers for the regular meetings as well as trips to retreats and other Holy things.

You can do this. Get the support of your Pastor and it can be going very soon.

In His service,

I guess it might depend on where you live. I live in the “bible belt” south with very few parishes to choose from so the options are limited.

Attend a few youth group gatherings to get a “feel” for the atmosphere at the local Christian church. Go with your “gut” as to whether it would be good for your kids. Make sure though, that if you let them attend, they are GROUNDED IN THEIR FAITH and dialog with them about the types of activities and such that take place.

In the mean time, talk with your parish DRE or pastor about a youth group in your parish. I wish you better success then I ;had. Between the Virtus requirements and insurance issues, we have very few willing to volunteer with the youth.:mad:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit