That’s how many hours are in a week. 168.
Let’s play a game of sorts. Let’s try and make some generalizations about how our teenagers spend their time each week. Trust me, there’s a point . . .
- Let’s assume that the average school day is 7 hours in length. Add another 2 hours a night for homework (five days a week), and we’ll say that time spent in school = 45 hours per week.
- And let’s further assume, though there’s really no way to know for sure, that the average teenager sleeps 8 hours a night. So, time sleeping = 56 hours per week.
- Let’s take a wild guess at how much a teenager spend each week eating. Let’s call it an hour and a half a day. So, time spent eating = 10.5 hours per week.
- Finally, let’s assume that teenagers spend an average of an hour a day on personal hygiene. Let’s call it 7 hours a week on making sure they’re clean and pretty.
If we think that our above assumptions are even close, the average teenager will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 118.5 hours each week doing things they have to do. School. Sleeping. Eating. Showering and getting dressed, etc. These fixed hours represent about 70% of their week.
And so, according to our rough math, that leaves 49.5 hours of “free” hours each week, or, roughly 30% of their weekly time.
These are hours dedicated to sports or band practice, playing video games, working a part time job, hanging out with friends, watching TV shows or movies, and so on.
This is a snapshot of how our students spend their lives. And yet, something is missing in our addition. How much time do your students spend with God each week?
Of course, there’s no way to definitely say for sure. We can guess. After all, that’s what we’ve done so far, isn’t it? So, let’s guess. Let’s take a stab at how many hours our students spend each week focused on their faith.
Let’s start with our superstar teenagers, the most committed of our group. If they come to church twice a week, let’s be generous and say they get 3 hours of “faith time.” And let’s say they spend 30 minutes each day in prayer or Bible study. That’s another 3.5 hours they spend growing their relationship with God. So, we can define the most-committed among our teenagers as those who spend something like 6.5 hours a week dedicated to pursuing God in some way. This represents close to 4% of their week. Less than an hour a day on average.
We can only assume that your students who are less committed to attending church, and to their personal time in Scripture, would spend less time than this pursuing God. What would their average be? 30 minutes a day? 15?
This little exercise is admittedly not scientific. But I did it to prove a point. I wanted to help us consider how our students spend their time each week. I wanted us to visualize just how little time they spend, from the perspective of overall percentage, attending church or meeting God in prayer or in Scripture reading. I wanted to do this for one reason . . .
For many of your students, the time they spend in your ministry is the main (or even only) time they’ll spend interacting with the Bible. Which is why it is absolutely imperative that you are intentional about the time you spend with your students.
Everything you do should be aimed at leading students closer to Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with having fun. We’re in youth ministry, after all. But when we realize just how few moments we actually have with our teenagers, and when we realize what a small percentage of their weeks these moments are, we should be gripped by a sense of urgency.
The time our teenagers spend focusing on God is so precious. Let’s do our part to make sure we’re good stewards of the time we have.