Q: What is a youth group? Is it any different to a youth club?
A: At its most basic, a youth group is simply a group of youth. This therefore encompasses all kinds of different groups – youth clubs, scouts, LGBT groups, student councils, etc (see our list of different types of youth work for more examples).
Having said that, the term ‘youth group’ is certainly more commonly associated with youth ministry, particularly here in the US.
Different types of youth groups have different purposes. For example, as we explained last week, church youth groups generally have the aim of helping young people come to faith and to grow in their faith.
A youth club on the other hand may be provided in a local community to offer activities for young people. This might therefore have no spiritual focus, but instead aim to “keep youth out of trouble” or offer some kind of skills training.
An LGBT youth group may meet to offer support to each other, while a student council might be a group of young people who seek to represent the concerns of fellow students at school.
Ultimately though, most youth groups’ purpose is based on the objective of helping young people progress in some way, whether that’s spiritually, emotionally or physically – or a mixture of all three.
Due to the variety of purposes that different youth groups have, a variety of strategies are used to achieve their aims and objectives.
You will often find though that youth groups with different purposes will actually use similar strategies. For example, the Boys & Girls Clubs Of America use the following six strategies:
- Education & career programs
- Character & leadership programs
- Health & life skills
- The arts programs
- Sports, fitness & recreation
- Specialized programs
These strategies are used to further BGCA’s mission, which is “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”
You might notice though that these strategies are ones that are commonly used by other types of youth groups, even if they have a different mission statement to BGCA’s. Youth groups can therefore learn important lessons from each other, particularly if they’re willing to team up to form partnerships.
As you can see, the relationship between a youth club and a youth group is similar to that between youth ministry and youth work – a youth club is a youth group, but a youth group isn’t always a youth club. Different youth groups have different purposes and use different strategies, although there’s also often an overlap.
Question: How would you answer the question ‘What is a youth group?’ We’d love to get your input in the comments below.
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