The Secret Sin at Youth Gatherings

gluttony

So I was at a ministry event eating Way Too Much Pizza, and the guy next to me turns and says:

“I only eat like a glutton at youth group activities.”

And ever since I heard him say that, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

Because it’s completely true.

If I ever eat six slices of pizza, or eat five donuts, or go back for a seventh bowl of chili …

… it definitely means I’m at a church thing.

I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

Look through the Bible. Gluttony is an actual Sin.

Are we tacitly encouraging it during youth group?

I remember a New Year’s Eve party I did once. It was the end of the year, and we had enough budget money leftover to make it a good party. Students were eating candy and stuffing chips in their faces and drinking soda and there was Way Too Much Pizza.

I remember a chili cook-off where I challenged a student to a chili eat-off.

I remember my own youth pastor engaging me in a Mountain Dew chugging contest when I was a teenager.

Sidenote: If you provide your students with Mountain Dew, you forfeit the right to complain about how they won’t calm down for your message.

In fact, I think that I am more likely to eat sensibly at Thanksgiving or a Memorial Day barbecue than I am at a church event with free food.

What’s up with that?

What happens when we eat like gluttons at youth group?

Well, besides encouraging sin and undermining the teaching we might want to do about it later, we may also be setting students up with unhealthy habits that could very well hurt their health down the road.

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Aaron Helman
Aaron Helman is on a mission to help end the epidemic of youth worker burnout. He writes at Smarter Youth Ministry to help youth workers with their biggest frustrations – things like leading volunteers, managing money, and communicating effectively. He is also the youth minister at Firehouse Youth Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.