Why should my son/daughter consider attending youth group or small groups that are offered?
The spaces offered by SCAPC Youth are a lot of fun, but our purpose is fundamentally different than just “games” at church. If it is just entertainment, we’ve failed at our job, and our programs will never compete with things like music, dance, drama, and football games, especially when high school comes around. We need parents to know and trust that our role, which focuses on values-formation, is deeper than just entertainment or resume-building and that our games and activities always have deeper lessons and conversations attached to them. Similarly, we pray that our parents will continue encouraging their kids to give our groups another try even if their youth did not enjoy the games or experience on the particular day they attended. Opportunities to pause and reflect, and spaces in which one can be both authentic and safe, are so rare in our world and craved by teenagers even when they cannot articulate or choose them for themselves.
Are high schoolers a lost cause? They don’t want to “play at youth group” or be with younger kids?
No, no, no. Remember, firstly, youth group is not just entertainment, and, moreover, we strive to carve out roles for our high schoolers to accommodate the new space in life they have entered. Not only do we have spaces like Senior High Small Group (where teens can talk about authentic high school issues and age-appropriate struggles), but at our larger youth events, we empower our high schoolers to be activity leaders, give “what I’ve learned from life” talks, facilitate small group discussions, and captain team-building exercises. This provides them a sense of agency that is crucial to their development and keeps their interest, so they are no longer “playing” with younger kids but instead leading them.
What if my son/daughter isn’t religious?
We at SCAPC Youth want your kids to be the best “thems” they can be, and to us, that means encouraging them to keep exploring (and even questioning) their faith! While we endorse Christian traditions and Christian morality, our youth program is much more centered on helping middle and high schoolers think about what practices and beliefs make the most sense to them and supporting them whole-heartedly in that. Many of the questions we ask in youth group, and even in Sunday School, are applicable even to students that aren’t religious – things like “What does it mean to forgive?” “Why might sharing kindness with an enemy be an important principle?” and “What gifts do I have to share with the world?”
But the kids are just SO busy in my household…
While only you know what is best for your kids, we hope you can understand that what we provide is inherently different than an after-school “activity” or “sport”. However, if your students are flourishing outside our program, we support them with all sincerity. We just want them to have spaces where they can ask hard questions, be embraced despite differing beliefs, and know they are safe and loved outside of their achievements, and those spaces are infrequent at best in our society.