As I’m sure I’ve mentioned several times, my family and I have recently switched churches. So, last week I went to check out the new church’s youth group. This was my experience:
At four thirty, I met a friend of mine, and we went to the youth room together. (He called about an hour beforehand to ask if I’d like a guide of sorts, because it’s a very large youth group) The youth room is the size of my old church’ auditorium, that’s barely full on Sunday morning, and it was packed. Once everyone had gotten settled either in the rows of chairs or the great open space in the front affectionately dubbed ‘the mosh pit’, a girl up on stage began to sing, backed up by a full band. They were good, and they were shake-the-room loud.
There wasn’t much else that happened at youth group. I mean, it was fine and all, but it was kind of like an orientation day. In fact, after the worship time, and a short sermon of sorts (I thought the speaker was pretty good), there was an orientation for us newbies. So after the speaker had concluded, he asked for any first time youth groupers to come to the front. So, as everyone was filing out, about eleven others, and I wound our way up to the stage. Once we got there, a small crowd was beginning to form. I hadn’t expected there to be so many others just now joining, but honestly, I was kind of glad for the moral support.
The guy took us to a room that was full of sofas laid out in a maze of sorts, and had us introduce ourselves. After the brief introductions, everyone just sat around feeling awkward as some people filled out some forms, then some people talked about small groups for a little while, and we were dismissed for dinner.
Dinner was nothing special, just cheeseburgers. At first some of the new kids that had grouped together (I count myself among their number) all just stood around awkwardly, as if hoping someone would stand up on a chair and yell, “Hey! New kids! Come sit with us!” Because no one could remember what table it was that supposed to be ‘reserved’ for us. But, of course, that didn’t happen. Finally, I decided that it was ridiculous, found one of the leaders, and asked him. After that, we sat down and ate our dinner, while I continuously failed to start up a conversation with anyone around me.
Sounds fun right? Okay, so aside from dinner, I did have a good time, which is why I went back tonight, and I was glad I did.
The first part went a lot like last week. I met my friend, we sat together, the music was great, and I really enjoyed the message. But after that, I had to wind my way up to the front again, to find an important looking guy in the blue shirt. Blue shirt guy took me, and a few other people that were new last week as well, to a girl that was in her late twenties, possibly early thirties (I learned later, that this was Lisa) who gave us all the room numbers of our small groups, and had some of her colleagues each take one or two of us, and show them where their group was. Finally, it was just me, and a fifteen year old girl with glasses. So, Lisa was left to take us to find our rooms.
She found the other girl’s room easily enough, but when she showed me to my room, it turned out to be the wrong one. So we had to go back to her computer, find the right room number, then go back to the room next door the original room. (She had read the six as an eight) But then we find out, that group had left and was in a different room. We must have walked around for twenty minutes after that, until we found one of the group leaders.
There was only about five to ten minutes left in group time when I got there, so I stayed out of the conversation. Pretty soon everyone was getting up to go to dinner. I was hoping everyone would go together, then sit at a communal table or something, but instead, the group dissolved into cliches of two or three. One of the groups began walking to the dinning hall place thing (wow, that sentence really fell apart) so I followed them, but they shook me off at the bathroom, so I just walked their alone, while the rest of the group stayed in the room for a while. I thought about waiting for them, but they were so absorbed in conversation, that it just felt weird. So on I went. I wasn’t going to eat, because I was going to go out to eat with my grandparents afterwards. So, I stayed in the hall outside of where the food was. I saw a girl that was standing off by herself and struck up a conversation and I continued to talk to her until my parents came.
Aside from the little bit of awkwardness that can be found wherever teenagers interact (yes, the sounding like an infomercial was intentional), I’d say it was a fun night, and a success.