Teens and the Ministry

I have always had a burden for youth, especially teens. This mainly stems, I guess, from the fact that as a teen my life revolved around the ministry. I rarely had people my age to serve with other than just a select few from my home church. Most of my involvement in the ministry as a teen included being around and working with adults. This led me to have a burden that still today is heavy on my heart for teenagers. Being a teen in the ministry is not easy. Now that I am an adult and serving in the minstry in even more capcities than when I was a teen, I still recall the difficulty of fitting in as a teen when it came to ministry work. Looking back on my own experience, I can see a where many churches today are failing the teens in their ministry. Here are just a few.
The first failure is the failure to treat the teen right. What I mean is that we often go one way or the other with teens. We either treat them like little kids or we treat them like adults. Either way, we’re losing them. A teenager is at that ackward stage in life where they are not a kid anymore, but they’re not an adult yet (though some think they are). This can be confusing for them because they are no longer interested in the things they did as a child, but they are still not quite mature enough to be interested in the responsibilities of adulthood. If we are going to reach the teens, we must be able to understand and meet them there in that middle ground. If we come at them like they’re kids, we’ve lost them before we get started. And if we go at them like adults, we’ll confuse the heck out of them and, once again, we’ve lost them.
The second failure is the failure to understand the needs of the current generation. I am young myself, but I was raised according to old school principles. For this I am eternally grateful because it has made me into the man I am today. But we must understand that not all teens are raised with the same habits their grandparents acquired in the 50’s. They have been born into a time that is considerably more advanced. They are taught to do things differently. They are taught to use different resources. They are being raised in a generation that is moving faster than the previous. This is not always a good thing, but if we fail to understand that what we consider strange is considered normal to the average teen, we’ve lost them. If you try to reach them by telling them how wicked their internet is or how wrong their social media page is, then all you’ve done is build a wedge between you and them. If we approach teens by attacking what they are being raised to believe is normal, than we come across as the crazy people to ignore.
The third failure, and perhaps the most important is the failure to keep them involved in the ministry. This is challenging because they are not kids anymore, but they are not adults yet. We can’t just give them a crayon and a coloring book and expect them to be occupied or learn anything, but we also can’t give them the responsibilities of experienced ministers. I struggled alot with this growing up. I wanted to serve in the ministry, but it was hard to find a spot to do so because i was too young for the adults and too old for the kids. There are many areas in which teens are most needful in the ministry. They can learn to play music and lead worship or sing specials in the service. They can help with the marketing of the ministry and they can even learn to lead the choir. There is no reason that we can’t keep the teens actively involved in the ministry. We can’t just teach them the bible and then leave them hanging. Teenagers are an invaluable asset to the ministry. Remember, eventually someone is gonna have to step up and take over in order to keep the ministry going. Don’t neglect the teens in the church. They are teens today, but leaders tomorrow.

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