What are Young People’s Societies?

Several months ago I was asked to put some ideas concerning Young Peoples Society attendance in writing for the Beacon Lights. The following article shares some of my ideas which should applied to our present ’78-’79 society season and any future society season.

One question came up about the age of those attending. For some eight years, I taught the oldest group of Sunday School students of Southwest Church. I tried in that class to treat those young people as belonging to a society, and to encourage discussion in the group as is done in Young People’s Society. I was not always successful because many of them never studied or even looked at the lesson material prior to the meeting. Many also attended because that’s what the parents required. This, nonetheless, was the stepping stone to Young People’s Society.

Because I’ve never led the Junior Young People’s, I cannot speak from experience about those coming into society. But thinking of those beginning Senior Society. But thinking of those beginning Senior Society, I see varying degrees of interest and ability. Some seem to think society is to have fun and never contribute anything to the discussion. Others give evidence of some study or at least attention and contribute to our discussions. The PURPOSE is the discussion of God’s Word and not only getting something out of it yourself-growth in the knowledge and faith of God-but, more importantly, contribution for the spiritual benefit of the others in the society.

I know many feel the society is a “drag”, others a way of getting away from the folks, and whatever the reason the discussion of God’s Word is farthest from anyone’s mind. “Fooling around” is the thing to do. And lack of preparation is evidenced by lack of discussion. The younger the individual, the more timid they are and consequently discussion is limited. The leader usually has to pry the discussion from the members.

I don’t believe that raising the age for entrance into society would help. To be involved for a year or two in society meetings and discussions is the only way to overcome that fear of talking and maybe making a mistake, or to take the devil’s advocate side of a discussion for the purpose of bringing the truth to light. I also love to have those who have attained the ripe old age of 21-23 still attend the meetings for the purpose of discussion. Again bear in mind that they can give far more than they receive.

I’m also convinced that the leader can be deterrent to good society discussion. If he knows his material as he should, there is no need for him to do all the talking; in fact, after a few introductory remarks, the young people should carry the discussion. There’s no reason why the leader should ask and answer all the questions. In Southwest Senior Society I have difficulty sometimes maintaining control of the discussion because too many want to talk at once.

Study is one of the most important aspects of the Young People’s meetings. But leading the discussion, and pointing to various aspects of God’s Word such as using everyday examples to make a point are absolutely necessary to a good discussion and profitable meetings. From that respect, there’s no reason to leave Young People’s Society until one gets married-and then only because they should attend Mr. and Mrs. Society or something similar in our churches out West.

In conclusion, we should have a good reason for attending a Young People’s Society, and if we don’t, we’d better examine our lives. Sin lies every doorstep, and it’s so easy to go along with the people who like to fool around. But if each realizes that we get out of the discussion what we put into it, and work toward the spiritual promotion of the fellow member, we’ll all have better Young People’s Societies and discussions.