Teenagers will discard some aspects from their previous experiences of faith, moving on to new ideas and beliefs that make sense to their ways of thinking. Discussion of theology and what God says about the issues teenagers face are important to them.
As teens search their faith, they move toward spiritual maturity, even though it may appear they have lost their faith. They are looking for personal meaning, and sometimes it seems they are looking for it everywhere but the church. The process of searching one’s faith involves experimentation and challenging the status quo. Church bodies often have trouble supporting people at this stage in their life, but support and understanding are crucial if we don’t want to drive older adolescents away. Searching individuals still need to be included in the faith community; they need to feel wanted and valued.
Open communication is essential with teens. If Jesus is the Word, then the organized church cannot be afraid of words. Working through this process of discovering God’s stand on issues motivates teenagers to “put their money where their mouth is” when it comes to their faith. The church must foster an environment where this can happen.
Teenagers need to be a part of their church’s ministry, not just a presence that implies the congregation has a future. Just as adult members of a congregation have a variety of gifts and an assortment of ways they’re involved in the local parish, teens don’t want to be pigeonholed into one or two areas of involvement. Do youth have a voice in how the congregation is governed? Do they have voting privileges or at least speaking rights at voters meetings? Do they teach or assist in Sunday School classes or Vacation Bible School? What about ushering? When they’re included in the total ministry of the church, teens tend to stay involved in congregational life.
Looking for more ways to help teens grow and share their faith? Check out our Youth books and Bible studies.
Post adapted from Building Faith One Child at a Time, pages 204, 206 © 1997, 2016 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.