The Problems with Age Segregated Teaching and Youth Groups
We have attended several churches that had active youth groups. Very few of them had children who appeared by the fruits of their behavior to be serious about their faith. Our children have often reported back to us that most of the children in their classes just goof off, are in attendance primarily for entertainment, socialization or flirting reasons, and don't seem to be very serious at all about their relationship with God. Our family's observations are supported by research done by Ken Ham in his book titled "Already Gone". Read the entire book for free at:
Consider these statistics from his book:
- 61% of today’s young adults who were regular church attendees are now “spiritually disengaged.” They are not actively attending church, praying, or reading their Bibles.
- 20% of those who were spiritually active during high school are maintaining a similar level of commitment.
- 19% of teens were never reached by the Christian community, and they are still disconnected from the Church or any other Christian activities.
- Those who faithfully attend Sunday School are more likely to leave the church than those who do not.
- Those who regularly attend Sunday School are more likely to believe that the Bible is less true.
- Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend that abortion and gay marriage should be legal.
- Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend premarital sex.
One significant reason this is happening is because God never intended for us to fellowship in our churches in such extensive age segregated ways. He intended that it be done primarily as whole families joining together with each other. Some age segregation in limited amounts is acceptable and necessary, but not like what is going on in most Christian churches today. In his excellent book "A Weed in the Church" by Scott Brown, he had this to say about his old church's programs prior to his ending his career as a youth group pastor there:
"I drew a graph on the whiteboard to illustrate how our church was fragmenting the families of our congregation. I listed all the ministries we were providing on the top of the graph, and, on the left, what function they served (whether it was for "equipping" or "evangelism"). Then I added another category: Fragments Family. Literally, every single program or ministry in our church separated the family into an age-segregated system of discipleship. Everything we were doing fragmented the family." (page 27 - 28).
His book does a good job of explaining how age segregation got started, why it's not God's intended model and the harm it's causing to the church and its families and youth in particular. He also addresses many of the common objections that are raised such as how to minister to children who don't have a father, or who don't have parents who are instructing them in God's ways.
We strongly recommend that to begin your research into this problem by watching the video titled "Divided the Movie". You can watch the movie for free on their official web site at dividedthemovie.com. However, you have to provide them with a name and e-mail address to watch it. If you'd rather watch it for free without having to do that, view it at this site vimeo.com/26098320.
We also recommend their companion book titled "A Weed in the Church". It goes into many more details than there is time to address in the movie. You can purchase this book at their web site at dividedthemovie.com.
We encourage you to consider an age integrated church instead. This web site for the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC) lists churches that follow this biblical principal:
What are the 9 marks of a spiritually healthy church (does not address youth group concerns)
The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches
The Problems with Age Segregation and Youth Groups
Divided the Movie and A Weed in the Church book (official web site)
Divided the Movie (watch for free at unofficial site)