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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Teenagers and the Church

 Everyone knows that the future of the church and the world is in the hands of today's youth.  So it is fairly important that teenagers are involved in and impacted by "church" and more broadly Jesus.

They can also be a hard group of people to target and disciple because of their busy schedules, school, homework, sports, work, family time, and church.  I remember those days.  But for me personally church was a priority that I tried to find time for and enjoyed doing.  Churches are trying almost anything to keep teenagers coming to their programming.  Some even host Halo parties (Halo is a much loved video game) in their church or ministry centers.

It is important to understand what teens want from their "church experience."  According to Barna teens want

  • "to worship or make a connection with God" (45% described this as very important),
  • "to better understand what I believe" (42%),
  • "to spend time with close friends" (34%),
  • "to get encouraged or inspired" (34%),
  • "to volunteer to help others" (30%),
  • to learn about prayer (26%),
  • to listen to religious teaching (26%),
  • to participate in discussions regarding religion and faith (23%),
  • to be mentored or coached in spiritual development (21%),
  • to discover the traditions of their faith (20%),
  • to participate in a study class about faith (19%), or
  • to study the Bible (18%).

Because you are reading this it shouldn't surprise you that the same research showed that out of every four teenagers (26%) had learned something about their faith or spirituality online in the last six months. This was true of two-fifths of born again Christian teenagers (39%). Furthermore, one-sixth of teenagers (16%) and one-quarter of born again teens (25%) said they had "a spiritual experience" online where they worshipped or connected with God.

David Kinnaman, the lead researcher and president of the Barna Group, has a new book coming out called unChristian which looks at the differences between teenagers and Christianity. In a concluding statement he says:

"Helping them [teenagers] connect with God, learn about their faith, and serve others, in a loving and relational environment are their top desires from a church. Keep in mind that young people are not spiritually transformed merely by attending a church, knowing a few Bible stories or being friends with the youth pastor. It takes addressing teens on a much deeper, personal level - such as developing their intellect and vocational passions as well as cultivating their curiosity for the complexities of life."

I think that is what we are trying to do at The Bridge Student Ministries.  We are very relationally focused, but it is so much easier just to plan games and a short message each week.



*pictures are from our 2005 fall kickoff event!



Diane R said...

Let me see if I get this straight. "Halo" will help accomplish the #1 goal of teens which is "to worship or make a connection to God," right?

LOL.....maybe we need to think this stuff through more.

crossn81 said...

I agree we need to think through our ministry ideas more. Do you have any good ideas for helping teens worship or connect with God?