I was asked in a radio interview, “Who has primary responsibility when it comes to teens and their faith formation? Is it the parents, the church or teens who should own their faith?”
At the heart of the question is another one, “Who is responsible for whether a teen stays or leaves the church?” The answer is:
EVERYONE IS RESPONSIBLE
Teens, parents, pastors, youth ministers, and the rest of the church all need one another when it comes to growing disciples. Instead of trying to figure out who owns it, we all need to start:
WORKING AS TEAMS AND NOT AS SILOS
One of the key components to a healthy church is a healthy leadership. Pastor, youth minister, DRE and everyone else need to be on board with the same:
If there is misalignment even the simplest tasks will be hard to do. Take time as a staff to invest in each other personally. Build trust and learn how to communicate effectively. Look at your efforts as a team where each role is essential.
TAPPING INTO THE NEXT GENERATION’S POTENTIAL
Teens are not free labor. They are not a group to be entertained. Teenagers are a generation that should be mobilized. That means giving them opportunities to serve and engage with the adult population.
Giving teens responsibility that other adults have. Talking them up instead of talking down to them. Raise the bar and teens will rise to the occasion.
RECOGNIZING THE PROPER ROLE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY
Youth ministry is not a parenting substitute, it’s an additional resource. As a parent, I recognize my kids need other people to speak into their lives. Youth ministry does that, it provides role models and mentors that will support parents and teens.
Youth ministry is not entertainment. It’s a ministry that should focus on engagement. It’s about engaging teens with a relevant message in a relevant way. It can still be fun, but also should be focused.
Youth ministry is not an event. If you want to help teens grow after they leave your program you need to give them tools and teach them how to use them on their own. Each year you should be commissioning teens into the real world.
DISCOVERING SOLUTIONS BY ELIMINATE THE EXCUSES
Teens are lazy, the family is breaking down, parents are too busy, the church is irrelevant, and the list of excuses as to why teens leave pile high. Recognize that life is messy and in order to help teens grow you need to be adaptable, and willing to work outside of your comfort zone.
Find people who are optimistic and open-minded. Get them thinking big picture about what can be possible. Don’t be afraid to create, take risks and try something new, just do it together.
ACCEPTING THE FACT THAT IT’S NOT IN YOUR CONTROL
While we should all share the responsibility, in the end, God gave us all free will. Affirm the teens who choose to follow Christ and encourage the ones who don’t.
Regardless of a teen’s decision to continue in their faith or not find ways to love them. Never close the door and make sure they know the offer to know Christ is always there.
Question: How is your church community working together to help the next generation grow? You can leave a comment by clicking here.