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Showing Teenagers A Faith Worth Caring About

Showing Teenagers A Faith Worth Caring About

I’ve been on a little bit of an intellectual journey lately. It started with a question from a youth worker not too long ago: How can we make teenagers care about their faith? (I flesh this out in much greater detail here.) I’ve been spending time in the margins thinking about why faith is more important to some teenagers than others, what we can do to make faith matter more, and so on.

With this in the backdrop, I ran across a passage in a book about why some products stick and some don’t. There was a discussion about simplicity, namely, how the best ideas or products are often those that have been boiled down to their core message. There isn’t a lot of fluff. No excess moving parts. No unnecessary complexity.

This resonated with me because I think we can sometimes fail to boil faith down to its core essentials. 

We can inadvertently call students to a faith that has a lot of fluff and too many moving parts. How do we do this?

  • We do this when we make a teenager’s church participation more about entertainment than about them owning their valued place in a Body of believers.

  • When we make faith about rule following, or mere morality, we fail to communicate the core nature of the Gospel.

  • When we overemphasize certain aspects of faith over others (say, fellowship over evangelism), we create confusion about what is important.

  • When our ministries are more program-centered than relationship-centered we send a confused message about what it means to be a Christ-follower.


I guess the tension I am working through is the idea of how and what we communicate about faith in general. If we aren’t communicating the core message of what faith is, we can’t blame students for not caring about it.

Maybe some teenagers don’t care because they don’t know what to care about.

These are questions I am still wrestling with. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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