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Youth Worker Sound Off: What Are The Biggest Challenges Students Face?

Youth Worker Sound Off: What Are The Biggest Challenges Students Face?

Last week, we ran a contest on our Facebook wall to give away a free registration to Simply Youth Ministry's Simply Youth Ministry Conference. To enter the contest, we asked that youth workers answer one question. The question? What is the biggest challenge facing teenagers' spiritual growth? The answers we received were, in a word, remarkable. So much so, that we wanted to make sure we shared some of the them online. Here are a few of the almost 70 responses we received. Think about the students you teach as you read the responses.Do you agree? Disagree? Which ones do you think speak to your students? Is there a viewpoint that is missing?

Christian

Apathetic or lost parents

Steve

I think the biggest obstacle teenagers face are other people. Honestly, if they were surrounded with others who "walked the walk" and reflected Christ in a good way, their lives would be totally different. They are discouraged and let down by parents, teachers, and friends who give bad examples of how to live life. That's why we need mentors and others to step up and set an example of how living for Christ DOES make your life better, it isn't boring or stupid, and it is the best way to live life.

Damien

Relationships, I believe, are the biggest obstacle in a teen's spiritual growth. Teens seek relationships more than anything (friendships & romantic relationships). Depending on whether they engage in the right or wrong relationships, it'll either bring them closer to or further away from God.

Jason

Peer pressure and apathy

Jerry

I think the Church is the biggest obstacle for today's teen to grow spiritually. We seem to have all the right answers to none of the relevant questions teens ask. It's super easy to throw rocks at society, but we can't be angry at a world that unreservedly follows its master. If the Church dropped everything to follow Christ instead of protocol or tradition or comfort, then our message of hope, grace, forgiveness, and love would be far more compelling

Daniel

I think probably the biggest problem my teenagers face is the talking problem... Everyone always just talks about making the world a better place, but they don't see the action.

Rob

The biggest obstacle I've seen is the sense of self. There is so much discomfort when a teen has to answer the question "Who are you?" A lot of the students I've dealt with have to learn about themselves as they learn about Christ. Too often it's been all of one and none of the other. Once they figure out who they are, they have a much easier time recognizing who He wants them to be and just who He is to them.

Rita

Poor role models...

Sean

The biggest obstacle that I see is a lack of consistency from parents and adults. We challenge them to be disciples and followers of Christ, but fail to challenge ourselves to strive for that same goal. They see what we "get away with" in our own lives and assume that they can do the same and still be a faithful Christian. We need to hold each other accountable. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a church, each and every one of us, to raise faithful Christian!

Eric

A shallow understanding of Christ and a lack of understanding of biblical truths. Once they truly grasp the awesomeness of Christ then their desire will be to grow and learn more about Him and to learn His truths. Unfortunately we (I) drop the ball there to often.

Shawn

Teens today have so much to struggle with in life but their struggle in spiritual growth is no different than that of the majority of the church today. The struggle is internal and not external. Internally teens and adults alike must come to the place that there is no greater desire in the heart than to serve and please their Lord. I look to the Apostle Paul when he asked Jesus, "What will you have me do Lord?" When our heart's desire is to please our Lord, spiritual growth is not only imminent, but inevitable!
We give too much credit to external circumstances and situations when we should be taking a look at our own heart.

Kurt

They (and "we" too) become satisfied with the promises of God without the presence of God; which leads to a self-salvation.

Adam

Biblical illiteracy.

Joe

Seeing actual disciples of Jesus in a way that relates to them. Youth leaders, pastors, parents - we spend much too much time trying to get others to follow Jesus - we don't do it so well. So, they don't have anyone to follow

Cindy

Their biggest obstacle is Making their Christian walk their own...many of my teens go through the motions because they are expected to or they know what to say to make us think they are okay without really having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It's being Real before the Savior!

John

Learning to trust God while living in a world that tells them to rely on everyone else.

Chip

Not having adults just hang out with them in real community on a regular basis doing real life

Kevin

Being consistent with their spiritual journey. It is easy to get them focused for a short time (mission trips, retreats, etc) but there is so much pulling at them and so many options that they tend to forget to stay consistent with their spiritual life.

Jathaniel

Authentic relationships with other Jesus followers

John

I think the biggest obstacle that teenagers face in their spiritual growth is the influence that world has on the decisions they make in everyday life. The teenagers aren't going to the manual which is God's word for direction because its not modeled in the homes by parents. The media becomes the outlet for teenagers and thats the biggest obstacle.

Matt

The biggest obstacle that the teenagers I know face in their spiritual growth is living in a contemporary culture which privatizes faith and minimizes the role of God (and, I might add, a contemporary church culture which seems impotent to tackle this head-on).

Paul

Apathy, we the youth ministries of the church don't show them the value of a relationship with Jesus.

Andrew

Lack of parental involvement in their faith lives / lack of family discipleship.

Noah

Unfortunately, one of the biggest hindrances my students are facing right now is a fear of what others, especially those in previous generations, will say if they step out and live out their faith. Students need the support of others whether in their generation or not...

Thomas

I would say it is lack of Christ centered living in their lives. And not only that, but I think an example that makes their faith obvious and is not ashamed of it at anytime. How can a student feel comfortable with their beliefs if their role models aren't?

Brandon

Conflicting messages from the church, media, friends, and influential adults.

Wow! What an incredible sample of informed, expert opinions on what struggles teenagers face. Thank you SO much for participating. But thank you more for letting us serve you. Our joy is partnering with you to draw teenagers closer to Christ. Knowing the many challenges they face is half the battle. 

About The Author

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks is the Publisher and Co-Founder of YM360 and Iron Hill Press. A former Marine, Andy has spent the last 17 years working in youth ministry, mostly in the field of publishing. During that time, Andy has led the development of some of the most-used Bible study curriculum and discipleship resources in the country. He has authored numerous books, Bible studies, and articles, and regularly speaks at events and conferences, both for adults and teenagers. Andy and his wife, Brendt, were married in 2000. They have four children: three girls and one boy.

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