Thoughts on Teen Church
What is a common misconception about today’s youth?
I think that one of the most common misconceptions about teenagers is that they are all alike. Some folks—either those who have not worked with that particular age group or are far removed from their teenage years—may mistakenly group all young people under one category, usually labeled “punk” or “rebel.” I can see how that might happen, especially when one considers the actions of the average teenager and the jarring statistics and news we come across. But the truth is that teenagers are individuals who simply need someone to take the time to care for them.
What dangers does today’s teenager face?
Today’s teenager battles the same enemies that have threatened to destroy the lives of both young and old for centuries—the world, the flesh, and the devil. This three-fold attack is fought on a greater scale, I believe, by today’s teenagers—more than any other generation before. Our young people are relentlessly bombarded with sin through what they are exposed to on a daily basis. The accessibility of sin—through the Internet, personal cell phones, game consoles, and much more—is literally a click away.
What is a teenager’s greatest need?
I believe that a young person’s greatest need is to develop a love for the Lord and to daily walk with Him. Life is not without its trials and hardship, but perhaps some of the difficulty triggered by poor choices could be lessened in their later years if our young people learned early the importance of obeying, loving, and walking with the Lord.
What words of encouragement would you offer to the discouraged young person?
I would tell the teenager that life is great—it sure beats the alternative! If a teenager feels discouraged with himself and what is happening around him, I would encourage him to carefully think about the way he is living his life. The young person who actively serves God, seeks to walk with Him, and makes the most of each day for the Lord will be the teenager who has a smile on his face, joy in his soul, and a song in his heart.
What are five ways that a teen Sunday school teacher or worker can be more effective as he works with young people?
1. Pray for the teenagers. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
2. Talk with the teenagers, and not only about the immediate. Ask them about their dreams, goals, and ambitions.
3. Listen to them. Teenagers will tell you what they are facing or dealing with if you just listen. What tone of voice are they using? How do they respond to different questions?
4. Spend time with them. Someone once said, “You influence from a distance, but you impact up close.”
5. Dream for them. Some teenagers cannot see past next week, let alone fifteen years from now. Help them cast a vision for their lives.