Lessons learned from our young people

By Michael Newlands

I will admit I’ve struggled to get my head in to this blog writing. I’ve been aware of blogs, I’ve read blogs, folk have spoken to me about blogs, but I’ve never written actually written one. Sure I can talk on endlessly, as many of you know, but can I write?

Well I suppose we’re about to find out but fortunately I’ve been asked to write on a subject that I hold dear to my heart and I have a lot of enthusiasm about; the Youth Group.

This year has been, and will be, and eventful year for me. A couple of weeks ago I graduated, in less than a month I’m getting married, and in September I begin my Masters.

That’s a lot of big steps and I’ve been fondly reminiscing about just what has got me here today, and oddly enough, it was the Youth Group. It’s hard to be believe that it will be eight years this summer since I first got involved with the Youth Group as a Leader. Eight years.

And what have I seen in those eight years? I’ve seen fresh faced boys and girls who have just started the Grammar, grow into wonderful young adults. I’ve seen young people develop into mature young adults. I’ve seen them mature in character, strength and spirituality.

There have been tears and moments of sorrow, but there have also been times of great joy and happiness. Memories made through these times of joy, memories that will never fade because of the fellowship the Youth Group share with one another.

I’ve worked with many groups over the years but I have always said that this group, that our Youth Group, has something special. And I truly believe that it is the Spirit of God that works through this amazing group of young people. They’re always there for each other, always supporting one another and sharing together this journey.

So what is it we actually do up at the Youth Group? Do we all huddle around the Bible in a gloomy room? Or is it chaos as we let the youth run wild? Well it’s neither and it’s both. We have speakers who come regularly to give us talks on various subjects. This can be anything from local charities and groups who come to tell us what they’re doing, or it can speakers from various organisations who come to speak about relevant issues that affect young people nowadays.

We do also have our “God talk” where we look at something from the Bible, or we take a youth issue and frame it within a faith perspective. This is usually driven by the young people themselves. They tell me the sort of things they want to speak about and then I go find out what they want to know. This usually ends up more of a discussion than a talk. It’s good to encourage the young folk to speak up and form their own opinions.

Partly as personal growth for themselves, but also because they tend to make more sense than us older folk. We recently tackled quite a sensitive subject in the Youth Group, a topic that usually causes heated debate and the occasional insult to be hurled within the adult world, but I was amazed (and proud!) of how the Youth Group conducted themselves in this discussion.

They displayed a maturity and grace, and a sensible and sensitive approach that is sometimes lacking within the adult world. If the children are our future, both within and out with the church, then you know what? We might just be alright after all.

Of course we have our fun side as well, it’s not all deep theological discussion. We play a variety of games each night and we also have our own little outings from time to time. The Youth Group this year decided they wanted to resurrect our production and went for a talent show again.

Amazingly, and I have been bragging about this to anyone who will listen, the Youth Group managed to pull off a brilliant show that raised over £1000 in just seven rehearsals. Both show nights I was inundated by messages on Facebook and on my phone from folk that had seen the show and had thoroughly enjoyed it.

In this small group of ours we have so much talent and it was great to give them a chance to shine on stage for the town of Keith to see. We had a couple of group numbers to open and close the show with, a range of instruments that were played such as the baritone, flute, cello, some dance numbers and even some Rev I.M Jolly sketches. It was fantastic and the Youth Group deserved every round of applause they received.

So we’re coming to the end of our Youth Group year. We’ve had the show, we’ve taken part in church services, and next up we have the Fun Week for the primary school children of the area where the Youth Group come and help as well. Summer always feels like a bit of a lull.

Another year has passed and we reflect on the great things that have happened. But in this lull, there is joy also. The joy of anticipation to see what the new year will bring. This will be me heading into my ninth year with the Youth Group and if there’s one thing I know this next year will bring, and that is surprises.

The youth always have an amazing talent to surprise you, and we the leaders are looking forward to it.