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
...one 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."
*pictures are from our 2005 fall kickoff event!