Reaching Today's Teens
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94% of adult Christians decided to follow Jesus before the age of 18. That means only 6% of Christian adults decided to follow Jesus after high school. Student worker, what you do is important. The late-night conversations, the crazy and messy games, eating cold pepperoni pizza at youth events, and the long drives in church vans with too many foul smells are all worth it.
As much as the world has changed, and teens are dealing with things that we never had to, some things haven’t changed. Teens still want to be loved. They want to know and have a relationship with you. They need godly role models living lives that are joyful and fulfilled. There are some very simple ways that we can reach today’s teenagers. It may be awkward, but the results are totally worth it.
- Pull Them In to Help
Our teens are incredibly smart, talented, and capable of many things. They also want to feel connected. If they’re in high school, have them help with middle school small groups. If they love technology, have them help run the slides, lights, or sound. They can also serve in other ministries of the church. This allows them to see other people living out their faith in a real way.
- Be Authentic
Students are highly aware that we aren’t perfect. When we stand on the stage and pretend that we are, they shut down. We lose all credibility. They don’t need our perfection. They want someone that they can trust.
- Be Understanding
Students are going through hard things. If they trust you enough to open up, be ever so gentle and understanding with what they are trying to navigate and process. Once they know that you STILL love them after they have shared, you have room to counsel them and help them grow.
- Love Them for Who They Are, Where They Are
Students need to know that we love them for who they are, with all their quirks and immaturity. They also need us to love them where they are. When they confess that they slept with their boyfriend, they don’t need our condemnation; they need our love.
- Challenge Them Spiritually
Students want to grow in their faith, but sometimes they don’t know how. Discipleship means we put in the hard work with students. We give them resources to help them grow, but even more importantly, we give them our time.
- Keep Showing Up
Students are used to adults coming and going in their lives. When you keep showing up and consistently show them that you love them, they will begin to trust you with their feelings and questions.
Youth workers, you have the privilege of walking alongside students in their most transformational years. God can use you to directly impact the lives of students for Jesus. Get in there, embrace the awkwardness, and watch as God transforms their hearts and yours.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- Which of the above steps do you struggle with the most? How could you go about improving it in the future?
- How has serving benefitted your students and your ministry? What have you done to get students to serve?
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