The Hyles Church Manual
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 14 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, The Hyles Church Manual)
14. The Youth Program
“Remember now Thy Creator in the days of Thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when Thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”-Eccles. 12:1.
Much time, planning, and direction should be given to the youth of the church. The high school student is much like the closing phase of an assembly line. The young person has been through the entire church training program from the nursery cradle into the high school level. We are about to send him off to college, to the service, or to establish his own home. It is very important that these finishing touches be placed wisely and carefully upon the lives of the youth.
God has been good to give us wonderful young people in all of our pastorates. Over eighty young men are now preacher boys are scattered throughout the world preaching the same Gospel that I preach.
There are many ways to conduct a youth program. We will not attempt to give all of them or even many of them but simply to outline the type youth program we have endeavored to carry on in our churches.
1. Every public service is a youth activity in itself. It is a serious mistake to gear the public service only to the adult level. At every service we try to have something that will be both appealing and helpful to the youth. As I go to other churches across America, Canada, and other countries, I find many places where the audience is made up mainly of middle-aged and older people. We simply must gear our services to have an appeal to the young people as well as to the adults. Young people respond to dynamic challenge and dedication. This should be present in our public services.
2. The usual youth activities would include such things as Sunday school, Training Union, and the regular activities of the church. Dedicated, faithful, loyal people should fill these positions. It is just as important that a teacher of young people be an example as it is that he be a speaker. Young people are great hero worshipers. We should place before them the kind of people whom they can emulate and who can be the proper examples for the youth to follow. This same thing is true in the Training Union and other regular activities of the church. There should also be Sunday school parties and Training Union socials as well as spiritual activities sponsored by these groups.
3. The young people should be soul winners. We teach our young people that soul winning is not just for the preacher, not just for the deacon, not just for the adult, but also for the teen-ager. He is periodically taught a course on Soul winning. He is trained to be a soul winner just like the adults are. Then a regular night is set aside for youth soul winning. On a recent week, for example, our teen-agers won seventeen people to the Lord Jesus Christ on their designated soul-winning night. Following is a brief outline of this soul-winning activity.
(1.) The prospects are secured from the membership of the church. Periodically we have an announcement made publicly for those knowing of unsaved teen-agers to turn their names into the church office that we might contact them about Christ. Then we also have what is called an inside-church census. This is a survey of all the families of our church. We ask each person to list on this survey the name, address, age, sex, and spiritual condition of each person that lives under his roof or in the same dwelling unit. From this survey we get the names of teen-agers who may be contacted about the Gospel. Prospects also come from visitors to the services, new moves into our area, visitors to the Sunday school departments, and visitors to the youth activities.
(2.) Transportation often poses a real problem as few of the teen-agers are allowed to drive. Hence, transportation is provided by the people of our church who volunteer their own time and the use of their cars to transport the teen-agers from visit to visit. This also provides a chaperon for the young people. They go two by two. This means that there will be a driver and two teen-agers in each car. The driver remains in the car during the visit to enable the teen-agers to do all of the soul-winning.
(3.) Boys and girls do not visit together. The boys visit together as teams and they visit male prospects. Men drivers drive the boys. The girls visit together as teams and they visit female prospects. Lady drivers or a man and wife team drive the girls to their assignments.
(4.) Much fanfare is made about the soul-winning visitation. The young people are made to realize just how important it is. Many of these young people have gone out into the world as adults knowing how to win souls, and they continue in the soul-winning business. Many become preachers, missionaries, music directors, etc. The soul-winning program of our young people is a vital part of our church life.
4. The young boys often go soul winning with the pastors. It is not an unusual thing for a pastor to take a teen-ager soul winning with him. It has been my joy to win scores of people to Christ while soul winning with teen-agers in our church. What a thrill this is, both for the pastor and for the youth.
5. The pastor seeks to counsel with each senior before graduation. As a young person enters his senior year of high school the pastor seeks a personal conference with him in order that they might discuss the future together. The Pastor inquires as to the plans made by the young person. He, in turn, seeks the pastor’s counsel concerning decisions that need to be made. Discussed at this conference are such things as vocation, college, the choice of a mate, service, etc. This little get-together lets the young person know that the pastor cares.
6. The youth choir. This is discussed in more detail in the chapter on the music program. Each Sunday afternoon at five o’clock the teen-agers of our church meet for a youth choir practice. At this writing approximately one hundred teen-agers attend this practice. Then the youth choir begins the Wednesday evening service by marching into their places in the choir. The boys are required to wear dress shirts and ties and the girls are required to dress appropriately for church. The adult choir is used in the Sunday morning and Sunday evening services leaving the Wednesday evening service for the young people. This is not considered a novelty. The young people are made to feel their importance in this place of service. A title may be given to such a group such as the Teen Choralies or some other appropriate title.
7. There are also special activities for college-age young people. It is wise to provide a special Sunday School class for college-age young people. They have little in common with the high school group and will be much happier in their own Sunday school class. Through this Sunday school class social activity is planned and provided. This is usually a weekly activity. A wide variety of events should be planned.
8. It is wise to divide the high school from the junior high. Many of the youth activities include both the junior high and the high school ages, but even on activities that include both groups, the groups could be divided. For example, if two buses are used, the junior high school group could go on one and the high school young people on the other. If one bus is used, one group could sit in the front and the other in the back. It is wise, however, to have activities periodically for the high schoolers only. There is a vast difference between a senior in high school and a student in his first year of junior high. The Junior high students do not mind going to activities with the senior high students but the senior high students need to be alone often and such opportunities should be provided for them.
9. There are many splendid youth camps throughout the nation. Each Christian young person should have the privilege of attending such a camp. Such a opportunity will provide not only for the spiritual enlightenment but also for the social development of the young person. The cost for such a week is normally less than $25.00. If a church has buses, a camp could be chosen which is some distance away, and the bus trip itself would add to the enjoyment of the week.
10. It is wise that a church secure a youth director. In some cases this could be a full-time employee. In other cases it could be one of many duties of a staff member. In smaller churches, and in some larger ones, it is found necessary to use a volunteer worker from the church membership. Of course, all of the work should be done under the supervision of the pastor and should be church-centered and church-directed.
11. A weekly youth activity should be planned. Young people are on the go. They need to be kept busy. Because of this, it is wise to provide some kind of activity for them each week. We have found if advisable to have this activity either on a Friday evening or some time on Saturday.
12. There are many types of youth activities which can be planned. Some youth directors find it wise to meet with the young people in the junior high and high school departments. At this meeting each person makes suggestions as to the type youth activities he enjoys. From these suggestions a list is made. The youth director then adds his ideas, compiles them with those of the young people and submits the list to the pastor for his approval. These activities should be divided almost equally between spiritual and social. Of course, even the social times should have a time of devotion and spiritual emphasis. For example, as the young people ride to a social event they can sing gospel songs, pass out tracts, give testimonies, and, in general, permeate the atmosphere with Christ-centered activity.
These are planned at least two weeks in advance and usually a month or more in advance. Below you will find a list of youth activities that have been found successful:
1. Christian films
2. Bible quiz
3. All-day outings or trips
4. Banquets and parties
5. Boat rides
6. Sight-seeing tours such as radio and T.V. stations, airports, city, industrial plants, museums, zoo, etc.
7. Camp fire sings
8. Wiener roasts
9. Rescue mission services such as the Pacific Garden Mission, etc.
10. Youth camp--Bill Rice Ranch
13. The list of suggested activities is then submitted to the pastor for his approval. No activity of any kind in the church is planned without the approval of the pastor. This is vitally important concerning the youth program. Any new type of activity should simply be explained to the pastor for his approval. This may be done in writing or through personal conversation.
14. No youth activity, or any other church activity, should be planned during the weeks of revivals, Bible conferences, and other church wide activities. The young people should attend these meetings regularly.
15. Activities are chosen appropriately to the season of the year. When the weather permits, such things may be conducted as hayrides, wiener roasts, outdoor songfests, etc. When driven to the indoors, attention would have to be turned to parties, quizzes, banquets, films, museum trips, etc.
16. The promotion of these activities is handled in several different ways. First an announcement is printed in our teachers’ and officers’ paper, the Echoes, which is a newsletter for our Wednesday evening teachers’ and officers’ meeting. The junior high and high school superintendents then make this announcement at their respective Sunday school opening assemblies.
The youth activity is then printed in the church bulletin. This announcement, as all announcements, should involve the meeting place, the date, the time, the activity, and the cost.
The pastor announces and promotes the activity from the pulpit, and then, of course, the next activity is always promoted at the present one.
Then on various occasions the opening assemblies of the departments are visited by the youth director so he may promote the activities personally. Sometime the young people themselves prepare skits for the promotion of the event.
17. We have found that our adults are very willing to help the young people to grow in grace and to build their lives around the church. Our adults volunteer to help in such matters as bus driving, being camp counselors, cooking for banquets, etc. This is a wonderful way for some adults to serve the Lord Jesus Christ who do not have time or talent to do so in a more spectacular way.
18. Many times bus transportation is used for youth activities. Sometimes this is simply a matter of driving across town. At other times it is driving five hundred miles to a youth camp. Several things are noted when such trips are taken:
(1.) All drivers are properly licensed men from the church.
(2.) The young people are greeted at the door as they board the buses and they are required to dill out a card of registration. (This helps give you prospects for your youth soul-winning visitation.)
(3.) Young people are then reminded that they represent Christ and the church and that they are to act accordingly. They are reminded that there will be no such actions as hand-holding, love-making, etc., and that their behavior must be above reproach.
(4.) They are also reminded as they board the bus that the group goes as a group, stays together as a group, and returns as a group. No one is allowed to drive his own car and meet the bus at its destination. They go on the buses or they are not allowed to go.
(5.) A prayer is then offered asking God for safety and blessing, and off we go for a good time in the Lord.
19. There are expenditures involved in most youth activities. We have found that the young people appreciate the youth program more if it costs them something. Add to this the fact that we feel the tithes and offerings should not be used for foolishness. We find it necessary and best to have a small charge for the youth activity. This cost should be kept low and, of course, it should be announced at every activity and at every announcement about the event that those who cannot afford to pay are just as welcome as these who can. The cost would range from as little as 25 for a wiener roast up to several dollars for a formal banquet.
It is also wise to have a regular budget set up for the youth activity. There is an item in our church budget for the youth program. This can be used for spiritual activities and for honorariums for guest speakers, singers, etc. First Baptist Church of Hammond allocates only $15.00 a week for the youth fund. This means the youth program must be supplemented by a small charge at most of the activities. It is customary not to plan anything that will cost more than a dollar unless, of course, it is a banquet.
20. All of the above activities should be adequately supervised by the youth director and adults whom he chooses. It is wise to have at least one adult for every ten young people. The reason for this are obvious ones. These adults should be recruited from the congregation, and they should be very faithful, spiritual and separated people who believe in what the church is trying to do.
21. It is good to have a special time of prayer for the college students. Each Wednesday evening at our midweek service some time is given to praying for the college students. Each week there is a different “college student of the week.” A letter is read from him and prayer is offered on his behalf.
22. The “College Campus News” is a little paper that relays the news from home to the college students. It is published monthly and is a link between home and college.
By no means has this chapter been exhaustive. May God use it, however, to stimulate youth programs in fundamental churches in order that young people may build their lives around the work of Christ and His church.
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