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I Skipped Youth Group (and Why You Should Too)

I missed youth group this week. That’s right, I stayed home!

We had to call an audible this week, which meant I wasn’t going to be able to make it to youth group because of my son’s 11th birthday party. All summer long we’ve been having a midweek Bible study and music on Wednesday nights, and because we are hosting a conference at our church this week, we got bumped to make room for them. In order to make it work, we had to change nights. But that conflicted with a really important family night. What should I do?

I didn’t go! But it wasn’t an easy decision. Here’s why:

1) There is an emotional battle that rages when you have to choose between family and church. There is a frustration with you not being capable of doing everything and balancing everything perfectly. There is a pressure from the leadership that you need to be there and on-point every week. There is a calling as a father (in my case) to love my kids and raise them to love Jesus and love the church. All of those forces and more pulling on me just because I’m going to skip youth group? Some of you feel me on this. #realtalk

2) This battle is fueled by your passion for students whom you love like your own. Here’s why it is a struggle: You LOVE these students. You love them like they are your own kids! You weigh where they are at spiritually. You wonder if there is a message it is sending if you’re not there. You wonder if it will all fall apart if you’re not there to hold it all together.

3) When you’re not there, it does send a message. I actually think it sends several messages—like “this youth group is bigger than me” and “family is important” and “you need to hear from a variety of voices” and “be a good dad” … in short, I like the message that me not being there sends.

I don’t know the right answer in every situation. I posted this poll last night and realize that sacrifice of some important things can be part of the calling. We haven’t been able to celebrate our anniversary on the actual date for several years. I’ve called my daughter from Africa on her birthday. I get it. Not sure I’ve always done it right … but I did it right last night … and don’t be afraid to miss youth group sometimes.  

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Josh Griffin is high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co-counder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and host of the Youth Ministry Garage Podcast. He's authored more than 20 youth ministry resources and is the author of "99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders" with Doug Fields. Josh is a father of 4 who speaks a little, podcasts a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot. You can find him at DownloadYouthMinistry.com!