When I was a seventh grade student, a friend from middle school brought me to church for the first time. My family had an adversarial relationship with God, and church was really far down on their list of preferred Sunday activities. I walked onto the campus of a small Lutheran church and into a family I was not expecting.
When I was growing up, my family did not attend church regularly, so going to church events was never “automatic.” For me, going to a church event—summer picnics, wintertime sledding, VBS—meant getting an invitation. I didn't know it then, but those invitations were more than just invitations to have some fun; they were invitations to learn about Jesus and other important Bible stories. They were my look into the church. Events like these are perfect opportunities for you to encourage your youth to invite others because those invitations could very well be life-changing for someone (like me).
How can we teach teenagers to turn to God for help? The first step in doing so is recognizing what teenagers are seeking so we can show them how God meets their needs. All people, including teenagers, need forgiveness, acceptance, community, and endurance. We can use the acronym F.A.C.E. to remember these four things. Let’s take a look at the F.A.C.E. of Jesus and see how these gifts He brings through the Lord’s Supper apply to youth ministry today.
If you need help, tell someone immediately. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, call 911, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
I was getting ready early one morning, when I received a frantic call.
“Go straight to the middle school,” my coworker urged. “A seventh-grader, Chelsea, committed suicide last night. The school needs you.”
Over the past month or two, I’ve slipped on a teacher shoe from time to time in order to imagine the teens who may be reading The Messengers: Discovered. What a thrill it has been to create potential lesson plans!
The #SelfiesWithSimon. The #SimonSightings. The book reviews and random Facebook tags. I am so very thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ for sharing how Simon has impacted their lives this summer. Teens and adults alike are sharing The Messengers with others, and the youth group is one setting in which this is taking place.
It’s no secret that being a teen in today’s world is difficult. As more teens are seen leaving church and losing faith, churches across the country are trying to figure out how best to meet the needs of these young people. The most common response seems to be to customize programs to teenagers’ needs. Youth Bible studies, youth service projects, youth conferences, and other “youth-centered” events are created and grown to connect young people to the church.
As a pastor’s daughter who, at 21, is not too far removed from teenhood, I’d like to suggest another option: Start treating teen church members more like adults.