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Agapē in the Youth Group: The Inward Focus


There is an element that can make or break your youth ministry. I have seen it draw many a seeking youth into the group, and I know of two personally who left the youth group because this vital element was missing. Indeed it is this very quality in my youth group that made Christianity attractive to me again and started me on a path of deeper fellowship with Jesus.

It can be found in the words of Jesus in John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” The word love” today has many meanings so for these series of posts let me use its synonym “agapē” instead. C. S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves, defines agapē as “A love that is passionately committed to the well-being of the other.” I will use that definition as we take a closer look at agapē and why it should become a mark of your youth group.

Agapē has an inward focus.

Often times we take the fellowship of our youth group for granted. We pour out our attention and effort toward those who we want to come into our ministry and take less time and energy in building relationships between those who are already in the group. And it is important.

Without a strong fellowship no strategy for evangelism will be effective in the long run.
We might share the message of the God who is love and draw the youth into our group but if they don’t see that love of Jesus working in our group, the young people will be dismayed and eventually leave, perhaps in no better a condition than when they came. This is where agapē for those in our group comes in.

Agapē was Jesus focus too. A look at the gospels would show that Jesus spent most of his ministry with his disciples instead of with the crowds. Shouldn’t we also spend the same proportion of our ministry doing the same?

Lastly, agapē was a distinctive characteristic that Jesus wanted us to show. He didn’t say they would know that we are His disciples by the number of our group, or the status of each individual in it. Rather he said: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have agapē for one another.”

So take a moment and reflect:

Have you become so focused on reaching those outside to the neglect of those inside your youth group?

Or (if you have already begun to build on the fellowship):

Are there areas where we can improve on building agapē within our group?

The great thing about agapē is that it is actually one of the easiest things to begin in a group. It requires little if any planning or programs. It is as simple as taking time to listen to one of your young people. Saying words of appreciation to someone.  A pat on the back. Or helping someone out in what he is doing. And it can begin with any one person for agapē is not dependent on one teacher.

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