Were You a Youth Group Kid?

BuzzFeed, my favorite time-killer, has another listicle for the former Christian crowd: 33 Ways You Know You Were A Youth Group Kid.

Now, I wasn’t a Youth Group Kid personally, but quite a few of my friends were, so I saw plenty of familiar things on the list. For example, this Bible was on my middle school best friend’s bookshelf:

How many of you were Youth Group Kids, and how many of these sound a little too familiar?

Here are some of my favorites!

This shirt creeps the hell out of me, for the record.

Anything they missed?  Any favorite Youth Group Kid stories?

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • Robert Stoll

    Jesus is a Friend of Mine by Sonseed. We watched it at some camp thing the summer before I fully went atheist and was probably my favorite moment, if nothing because of the horrible bass solo.

  • Dorothy

    wow! i was raised Anglican (Canadian version of Episcopal) and there is not a single item on that list that I’ve ever even HEARD of. Just proves the infinite versions of christianity. So thankful now that i was never exposed to that sort of crap, i can’t imagine how it must be for young parents trying to raise kids in areas where this is rampant.

    • allein

      I was raised Methodist, and I went to youth group in middle school, but it was really just an opportunity to hang out and be social; it wasn’t overtly religious, really. I didn’t even go to school with most of the kids at my church and religiosity wasn’t very visible at my school. I never heard of most of these things until I was an adult and started reading atheist blogs and whatnot.
      I do own a Jars of Clay CD but I was in college when I got it (don’t think I even realized they were Christian at first); there’s a song or two that I like but not because they’re religious.

      • Chris B

        Your experience sounds similar to mine. My father is a Methodist minister, so we were at pretty much every youth group event there was. The church was relatively small at about 200 members, ~80% of which were over 60, so there were only about 8-10 youth group members. There were 4 guys (one of whom is my younger brother), and we would play football outside (partially in the graveyard!) until we were forced to come in to do the Jesus-y stuff. None of the four of us really wanted to have anything to do with it at the time. There was a *lot* of cutting up during prayers and worship time due to boredom and lack of interest. The fun we had during those times is the only thing I miss about church.

        • monyNH

          Mine, too. I went to a fairly progressive Congregationalist church, and our youth group was all about hanging out with friends (there weren’t that many of us–maybe 5 or 6). We didn’t pray or have Bible talks–sometimes we talked about how to handle the pressures of being a teenager, but mostly we played games and hung out.

    • Gus Snarp

      Yeah, these items very much relate to modern evangelical Christianity. These are things you’d see at a Baptist youth group, or some megachurch that aims for hipness but is theologically similar to Baptists. I attended both Methodist and Baptist youth groups, and this stuff would seem perfectly suited to the Baptist one (but I’m old, so the specific references are a bit different), but not to the Methodist one.

      • BeasKnees

        I went to an Assemblies of God church in middle school and then a Baptist church in high school. These things seemed to apply to both youth groups. Yikes.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I wasn’t, but is there one about how you “were called” to share “fellowship” with that really hot boy/girl?

  • http://www.skeptimusprime.com/ Dylan Walker

    I identified with nearly everyone of these.

  • http://twitter.com/edbrayton edbrayton

    Oh, I’ve got some good youth group stories. But I’m a lot older, so the favorite album cover would have been Petra or Amy Grant.

    • Gus Snarp

      Yeah, me too. This just made me feel old.

    • drwfishesman

      Sounds like you’re from my era Ed, went to a Carmen concert when in Atlanta as a teenager. LOL.

    • onamission5

      Hey, I was going to say that!
      I was a youth group kid. No clue who Jars of Clay are, nor do I identify with any of the other references, like the special embossed bible. I have been on my fair share of Hiking/Rafting/Camping Trips For Jesus, though, have done more than a few turns through Jesus Camp and won my fair share of bible trivial league nights.
      Yegads.

    • Noelle

      Me too. We’re too cool for these kids. And I still like Petra.

  • blasphemous_kansan

    Holy shit, total flashback time. I had a childhood friend who moved away when we were in 5th grade. He had some really bad things happen to him and he became extremely religious, like “shaving crosses in his head and didn’t kiss his girlfriend until the altar religious”. I went to visit him once a couple of years after this transformation and he told me we were going to hang out at some friend’s place for pizza, soda, and movies. Before I know it, we’re in a church basement eating cold pizza singing along to Veggie tales, and then the praying for the new guys/unbelievers started. Yeesh. Only after the Veggie Tales ended did I realize what I had fallen into.

    In the one time I was there I recall: 1) a soul patch (AND a guitar!!), 2) an overly dramatic crying girl. And my buddy was way into Jars of Clay.
    This was hilarious!

    • BeasKnees

      The soul patch thing cracked me up because both youth pastors that I’d had in two different churches/denominations sported them.

  • apsalar

    The “just” one is in a book my brother had called Pew Peeves, which oddly enough I think he picked up at the church. But it had a cartoon of a guy in a church praying like “I just want to thank you lord, for just being there lord, when I was just feeling rotten..” why do I remember that?

    I did have the teen study bible and it was all marked up, and I had a Steven Curtis Chapman CD. But our bible camp was far more strict than my parents (no shorts above the knee, no boys sitting closer than a foot to a girl, no co-ed swimming) so I only went once, and I never cared about purity rings or stupid Christian t-shirts.

  • http://twitter.com/D_A_White Devin White

    This sounds like they just stole things from Stuff Christians Like.

    (By the way, that’s a pretty great blog even if you aren’t a Christian)

  • ortcutt

    Having grown up an atheist in a predominantly Catholic area, I missed out on this phenomenon entirely. Reading that list was like learning about the mating rituals of South Sea Islanders.

    • Digitaldreamer7

      mating rituals of southern baptists* FTFY

  • JennyHaHa

    Mine was the kind of youth group where all the parents refused to chaperon because it would require the minister and the organist to go as the only chaperons thereby requiring at least one of them to be in the presence of the children at all times. (Because the whole town knew that those two spent a lot of time together working on an intimate relationship that didn’t include god…or their spouses)

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I guess I wasn’t really a youth group kid. I went to a youth group, but we really didn’t do much there. It was something to do on a saturday night. I think my parents are more spiritual than religious. We went to church, but I never really got into it and stopped going after confirmation.

    The things my parents let us get away with would definitely not make me a youth group kid. I bet some of their parents would have a spaz attack knowing some parent let there five year old watch r rated movies and tales from the crypt.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I remember owning that Jars of Clay album. And seeing them in concert. I liked DC Talk better, though.

    My last youth pastor had a piercing in his right ear, and this was a complete scandal. The older members of the church almost didn’t vote for him to be hired, and the leaders of the area churches gossiped about it for awhile afterward.

  • Cassandra

    Haha, I was a pastor’s kid so automatically a youth group kid.

    Seriously, there is a post for every one of these evangelical phenomena on Stuff Christian Culture Likes. Like someone said before, it’s a great blog even if you aren’t a Christian.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Thirding this. Stuff Christians like, and it’s relative Stuff Fundies like, are awesome. And educational.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13709847 Bryan Johnson

        I should note here that there is a difference between Stuff Christians Like and Stuff Christian Culture Likes. SCCL is far snarkier, the community is friendlier to atheists (though there’s still some squishy “progressive” Christians there too), while on the other hand the Stuff Christians Like blog tries very hard not to say anything that actually touches on real issues, and so is cheesy and full of squeaky-clean “humor”. SCCL is still hilarious for non-Christians, SCL is just sad.

  • kielc

    My sister-in-law does that ‘just’ thing. Drives me up the friggin’ wall. Sounds like she’s worried about imposing on the “All Powerful.” It really does make prayers before family dinners even more painful than usual.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    Church was always a bore to me. I am fortunate in that my mother allowed me to skip church and stay home alone at an early age. Despite that freedom, I still didn’t shed religion until my mid-twenties.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597605006 Mary Driftwood

    Maybe I just went to a weird church (Episcopal), but I was a hard-core youth groupie, and the only one on the list that applied to me or anyone I knew was #1. Yeah, he came to the lock-in! And he was a TOTAL ASS to me! But now it’s 20 years later and he and I can laugh about it. *nostalgia*

  • WallofSleep

    Unrelated, but on the subject of soul patches: My facial hair is dark brown, except the part where the soul patch would grow. That part is bone white, and has been since puberty.

    Every now and then I think “Maybe I should let that part grow out.” Then I see a picture like the one above and think “No. I’m an asshole, not a douche.”

    • Nate Frein

      My beard does the same thing…right under my lip it’s quite blonde compared to the rest of my facial hair. With my brother it’s even worse…at a distance it literally looks like he shaves just under his lip.

  • Aspieguy

    I’m really glad I never was part of youth groups. It sounds really weird and bizarre.

  • oregonienne

    It was goatees instead of soul patches for my youth group experience, but other than that, most of this list hits with me. We even had a prom substitute event, and I seem to recall going bowling in a ridiculous looking dress.

  • Librepensadora

    This is a comment on item #14. I was for a short while involved with the “charismatic” movement in the late 1970s and I learned a bunch of verses, including “The prayer of the just man availeth much.” After I had stopped going, I started calling the kind of prayer parodied here “the just prayer of the man.”

  • roberthughmclean

    I remember Youth Group at the anglican church that ran the primary school I went to. We spent a lot of time praying for no apparent reason, I mean it never achieved anything, even though the baby jesus in the dusty old book of myth, said that if we believe, all we asked for would happen. The rest of the time was reinforcing each others belief (constantly) and organising working bees at the church, no kiddie fiddling but lots of free labour. It was so boring. Dull Dull Dull. I used to treat it as a punishment.

  • J-Rex

    Yeah, most of the list is accurate. I had some great times there and a lot of good memories. It was very fun, but the problem was when I would go home or be at school and have to deal with the teachings that made my personal and social life miserable. So much shame, whether it was about sexual thoughts or the fact that I wasn’t trying to convert my friends 24/7

  • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

    I was FORCED to go on youth group retreats because I went to a catholic high school. I have the Bible with a dedication by the retreat leaders, who didn’t know what kind of heartfelt message to write since it was obvious I did it want to be there.

    Also memories of teen kids being emotionally manipulated into the most horrendous guilt trips and dissolving into sobs. “Did you see a movie with a sex scene? That’s adultery, push a pin into this sealed envelope. Oh look, it’s a picture of Jesus, you hurt baby Jesus when you sin.”

  • Isilzha

    My parents would drop me off at youth group and as soon as they left I would leave and go hang out with friends. I didn’t go regularly enough that my absence was noted by anyone at the church so my evil, sinful ways was never discovered by anyone (parents or youth leaders).

  • Chris Clayton

    The t-shirt is great since meant can be taken two ways. I take it as “Jesus Meant to Die for You, But He Forgot.” He ended up moving to the coast and lived out his life in a little seaside villa.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dal.bryn Dal Bryn

    That article gave me some flashbacks.

  • Guest

    I went to two churches in my youth. The first one was a rather small one with mostly adult members and most of the youth were little kids and hung out older kids. I really had no interest going to that church. It was rather boring and I really didn’t get anything out of it (not even after a week of bible school). Then we left that church because apparently one of head people of that church had child pornography on his computer and my mother did the smart thing and we left that god forsaken place for good.

    Then I went to another church in the next town over. It was a big church with lots of people and many people I knew. The pastor but was personal friend of my dad who also worked the dairy supply store and is a really nice guy (who also had a great singing). There were also more kids around my age and we hang out, chat, joke around and whatnot. Sadly though I still didn’t get anything out of it and It was still boring for me to visit that place. Eventually I became an atheist and the whole experience at church felt really pointless. Shame since the church in the next town over was actually kinda pleasent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000445126898 Mel Rupp

    My 1970s-era Presbyterian Youth Fellowship memories center more around going canoeing on the river, trips to the roller rink, and hay rides with wienie roasts than bible study or copyright-violating merchandise. In those days, it was more about providing wholesome activities than cultish indoctrination.

    • onamission5

      You probably wouldn’t envy my 1980′s era foray into Assembly of God then. They were all about providing wholesome activities for the sole purpose of roping in the young, trapping us in the wilderness, and then shoveling on the heaping mounds of cultish indoctrination. Like your camping trip to come with hours of bible study and tearful devotions around the campfire?
      Yeah, me neither.

  • Andrew T.

    When I graduated from high school, my parents’ pastor gave me a book titled “Live Like a Jesus Freak.” I always meant to comb through it and rebut/debunk the points, but said parents threw it out after it gathered dust on the shelf for five years.

    I had already mostly deconverted by the time I was in the right age group for this stuff, and it always freaked me out.

  • Bob

    Even when I was religious, I hated Christian music. I grew up listening to bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Then they show me this “Christian rock” garbage, and I could barely stand to listen to it.

  • Art_Vandelay

    I’m still trying to figure out what body part that is on #33.

  • drwfishesman

    You might be a youth group kid if… you lost your virginity at a church retreat. What?Don’t judge me.

  • http://profiles.google.com/davydd.norris David Philip Norris

    So much flashback action going on here. Yes, my youth leader had a soul patch, and LAWD did I ever have the biggest crush on him…

  • http://profiles.google.com/davydd.norris David Philip Norris

    I saw no mention of teen girls in long jean skirts. Maybe that was a Minnesota modesty thing, but there always seemed to be a clique of them in the mid-90s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/janice.anderson.127 Janice Anderson

    I was very involved in my church’s youth group all through high school. None of this applied to us. We had great discussion, that would have shocked the church elders, about pre-marital sex, predestination, and church theology. We even had a program where we attended services of other religious groups including the local Jewish synagogue and Black Baptist church. We raised funds for awesome trips (my group went hiking in Alaska). It was actually a great experience.

    My church at the time was a bastion of the American Lutheran Church. Our head pastor became the bishop that led them through their merger with the LCA to become the ELCA. The church is very liberal, near a large University, and invites the student and LGBT communities to join them.

  • Mairianna

    As a Catholic youth, I engaged in the weekend retreats, where we slept on the hard floor of a school gymnasium, had our watches taken from us so we wouldn’t know what time it was, were sleep deprived, and spent two days having “christianity” rammed down our throats. The weekend culminated in a candle light mass with lots of crying and hugging. I worked on one of the retreats and noticed how everyone else who worked on it was so “loving” and “caring” during the event, but as soon as it was over, man, did they all become b*tches! My two days of loving and caring went straight to hell in a hand basket!

    • Mairianna

      PS: Amy Grant was the musical goddess of christian music during MY day….

  • Gus Snarp

    I’ve mentioned this before on this blog, but one of the moments that began my journey from faith to atheism was at a huge youth gathering where the preacher got someone in the audience to bring an AC/DC tape on stage where they proceeded to smash it to bits. This was my second time at this gathering, and the first time had had a very emotional effect on me, one of those presence of God things, and this one had been headed that way, but this moment left me cold. I liked AC/DC and I just didn’t accept it as a tool of Satan, it was just fun music. That and I have always associated media destruction, whether book burning or cassette smashing, with Nazis. I stopped going to church after that, but it would take a few more events and a good deal of searching before I became an atheist. But yeah, I hope Christians keep burning records (although I expect burning an mp3 player could be dangerous and just hitting delete isn’t very symbolically satisfying), they’re only pushing people away with that behavior.

    • Gus Snarp

      This, btw, is the guy who ran the gathering/conference thing. There’s not much mention online of the conferences he used to run, which is interesting given that there were thousands of teenagers at these things. http://www.thehopeline.com/CSDefault

  • BenofSoCal

    I was a youth group kid! Loved it! It was the first place I ever got laid, the first place I smoked weed – I learned so much in Youth Group!

  • girl of the gaps

    Ha, those are totally not the hand motions we made to go with Lord We Lift Your Name On High. Probably the ones in the list were too Protestant for our Catholic ways. Also our lock-ins were at a laser tag place half the time, so that was pretty sweet. Though once my family moved to Virginia, everything became a thousand times less fun, and a billion times more mandatory. I tried suggesting laser tag once, but the roughly 200-year-old lady in charge of youth activities was shocked and appalled that I would suggest anything so violent. So we had a mandatory-attendance multi-parish dance the night before the AP Euro exam instead. Several people showed up with textbooks and sat in the corner trying to ignore the loud and horrible music. Oh, youth group memories.

  • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

    Re: #14 — I wasn’t born in the US so I’m not sure if this counts, but I’ve noticed my Very Religious relatives, regardless of age, end every sentence in their lengthy prayers with “Father God.”

  • NoYourGod

    Don’t forget the “Pederasty – It’s not just for breakfast anymore!” t-shirt.

  • RebeccaSparks

    Yeah, this was my kind of youthgroup-although we never burned anything and we never called anything a lock in? My parents also didn’t buy me a purity ring, but I did sign a purity pledge at a convention. Also, while I listened to anything from Petra to Jars of Clay, my favorite band was the OC Supertones. They also missed out the massive water balloon fights and cheezy musicals that happened at my church

    . Also, someone decided that finding Easter eggs were too pagan, so my natal church decided to release butterflies one year as a symbolic gesture of Jesus coming back to life-which ended quickly when my mom unknowlingly sarcasticly commented about now it resembled Shinto festivals in Japan where they released live animals. The next year they did nothing.

  • http://twitter.com/nora_anne Nora

    Ha, omg yes! I probably hit at least 80% of that list!

  • MattMC

    I have no idea how I came across this blog but I am lmfao! I had no idea that being an Athiest is such a religion unto itself. I think it takes just as much faith to be an Athiest as anything else. No offense, but you might as well have SOMETHING to look forward to. Whether it is real or not. Talk about depressing, nothing but dead end signs with no ability to turn back.


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