In a recent article titled Are You a Teen Church Dropout, a survey compiled by Lifeway Research narrowed in on the influx of teenagers between 16-19 who have left the church because they do not see the value in their life.
As a church leader, especially those in youth ministry, the statistics should not only initiate conversation amongst leaders, but also harbor an underlying concern branching out a few questions including:
- How do we instill in teenagers the significant value in staying connected to the church?
- What changes do we as a church need to make to help build a foundation for our youth?
Over the past few years, a switch in the church has taken place from teaching teenagers about the central core values of the Gospel to raking in as many youth as possible by catering through an ambiance of fun, food, and music. Although the magnetic pull may be phenomenal, the environment establishment is becoming an output of fast food teenagers gobbling up cheap nourishment while leaving them satisfied only for the moment.
What ever happened to youth groups that served more than a budget meal? Why are churches so afraid to focus on the meat and potatoes? What about setting the groundwork for an accurate foundation to help our teenagers be prepared for life?
Here are some suggestions in creating a rich setting for youth groups:
Establish Small Groups : Teenagers are more apt to share their heart in a small group setting. Establishing safe boundaries within each group will help create an environment of trust while building a foundation of friendships.
Address real life issues: Do not hesitate to tell the truth. It is discouraging to teenagers when lies, or hidden truths, especially in the church, are spoken. Instead, be open about your own experiences and share how God has brought you through the trials and don’t be afraid to share your own current doubts and struggles.
Teach the foundation of Genesis 1-11: The rock of life is set firm on the solid truths in Genesis 1-“In the beginning… ” Everything from that point forward stems forth. If a church is teaching contrary to the truth, then confusion begins to form in a teenager’s mind leaving them to question all biblical truths. Therefore, by teaching the reality of Genesis, all core values and beliefs have a foundational structure to draw back on.
It’s More Than Just Music: Music can be a great way to connect teenagers all together. However, the focus needs to move beyond the encouraging music and dive deep into God’s Word. Don’t be afraid to stretch the minds of the youth by asking them to think deep and ask the hard questions. It is in the questioning and thinking that teens open up and begin to learn.
God has called the church to be the light for the people and we are to send the light into the darkened places. If the youth are stepping away from the church,then the flickers of light are being extinguished. It is time to attack the heart of the problem to bring back our youth into the relevance of the times.
What trials and errors have you come across in establish your youth program? Please share how you have found success?