Empowering Your Teen in the Church | Next Gen Blog | Church on the Hill

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Empowering Your Teen in the Church

January 30, 2024 | Kaylee Andrews

Empowering Your Teen in the church

I get asked often “Why youth ministry?” especially from a new friend or a stranger I spiked up a conversation with inside a coffee shop. For many that know me, the answer has always been clear. I do youth ministry because I believe in the next generation with my whole heart. Even on the hard days or when the enemy is trying to attack my anxiety, I believe. I believe that if we take the time to make the next generation value church and build their relationship with Christ, we will see the change in the world we all desperately want and need. The teenagers of the church today will soon become ministry leaders, CEOs, Entrepreneurs, teachers, and so much more. So why are we not empowering them within the church? Maybe we are or maybe we are trying in a world that is pulling them out of church. The reality is we don’t go to church, we are the church! It is our duty to love the next generation boldly and give them guidance within our church community. Below you will find practical ways to help empower your teen within the church.

More of Jesus, less of you

I remember going on my very first youth retreat when I was 17 years old. Yes, I was 17 before I ever truly experienced Jesus fully. I remember being somewhat excited because it was a trip; yet I was terrified because I was an outsider. The students knew one another on a personal level, and I was just the “new kid”. Why would I be telling you this if my focus is more of Jesus and less of you? Because those people KNEW Jesus. It radiated off their smiles and laughs. It showed with how they greeted me as if I was one of the kids they sat next to in children’s church. I immediately was embraced with love and kindness; it was the love of Jesus. Everyone I met was just a vessel for God. A chance for my Lord to handle my heart with care and remind me that everything was going to be okay. Your teen should be surrounded by people who know Jesus in this same way. Jesus-filled individuals who hold their hand during the hard times and give them positive guidance during a crucial time of their life. If we are the church, we first must build those relationships because that is what brings people to Christ. Teenagers want to be surrounded by authentic people who are honest with them. Help your teenager build consistency not just on Sundays but any chance that you can within the church. Let them experience people who are living examples for the idea of, More of Jesus, less of me. 

Mark 1:16-18

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

We’re better together

One thing I believe that makes a church successful is a strong community. Having people who you can depend on when life gets hard is unmatched. Most teenagers are at a stage in their life when most things don’t make sense. They question if they are smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, and so on. They are waiting for someone to come along and remind them they are exactly who God created them to be. For a teen within the church, that happens in youth group. They have friends who are walking the same path and struggling with the same issues. For most youth groups, they have small group leaders who have been called by God to help the next generation. Someone who answers the hard questions and teaches them the word of God. Youth group is tailored to be a space for teenagers to be just that, teenagers. It is a place for imperfections because that is where we meet Jesus. Nowhere in your bible will you find Jesus telling us we have to do it alone. All throughout scripture you see common people coming together to build community. A community that is pulling in the same direction, the direction of Jesus. I challenge you to lead by example. Teenagers are willing to follow when they see it happening by someone they love and respect. Get plugged into a life group, volunteer on a Saturday morning, serve communion, do anything that shows your church is better together. Your teenager is wanting a community even when they give push back because as a child of God, we all need that community. 

Mark 3:34-35

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Transformation is better than Information

Anyone could sit in on a Theology 101 class and learn about the Bible. But what if we taught from the bible in a way that transformed people? Teenagers are a tough crowd because they can get lost easily in the scriptural teachings. Honestly, that applies to us adults as well. The Bible can become difficult and seem hard to grasp at times. But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be that way? You can practice and enforce transformative ways of discussing scripture with your teen. I first believe it starts with each of you attending the areas of church that was made for you. Trust me, I get it, life gets busy, and time seems to escape us. But making church and the learning of scripture a priority is a game changer. Find ways to help engage your teen in all areas of the youth group. Set goals for yourself and figure out where you fit best. It starts with sitting in the service on Sunday mornings. Engage in the worship, take notes from the sermon, and sit silently when you have the time to pray. From here it comes almost naturally when you and your family branch off into other areas of the church. Maybe you enjoy making the coffee or serving alongside the mission’s team. Sometimes it is just asking the right person, ‘Hey, where are some areas I can serve inside our church?’ the possibilities become endless! The point is, church and the principles we learn should be transforming our lives, not just information we obtain. Challenge your teenager to carry out what they learn in church, so it becomes an everyday faith.

Mark 6:7-13

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

I often tell my students I wish I could cover them with bubble wrap and send them out into the world. I say that because the reality is life is hard. The world is not always fair, and I want to protect them. But we can’t do that. We must allow them to experience hard times, fail, come up short, and more. This is where they meet Jesus, and his loves outshines the broken world. You can empower your teen in a way that enhances their spiritual life and relationship with their savior. We just must remind them, we don’t just go to church, we ARE the church! 

Matthew 18:20

“For where two or three are gathering in my name, I am there”