Let’s imagine your pastor just asked you start a youth program for your church. Then you find out the age range…and it’s high school. Immediate panic sets in, and you start finding a thousand reasons not to do it. Regardless of the excuses, it’s an area lightly treaded in today’s church, but it’s a ministry that desperately needs our full attention! Teaching high school youth was not an area of ministry I ever imagined I’d be in, but as we all know, when God truly calls us to something we can’t turn Him down. Here are a few things that I’ve learned from these amazing kids.
1.) Teens are Hungry for Truth
From that first night of youth group I learned real quick that teens have long since passed the age of trickery! They may even give you an eye roll when you ask them what “Santa” is bringing for Christmas. They have been programed by society to “fact check” everything from the evening news to their Bible. Yes, even their Bible! We are fools to believe society is not pressuring them to walk away from everything they have ever been taught regarding Jesus Christ. Lucky for us, they honestly just want to know the truth. They are surrounded by a world full of lies—and they know it! The problem is, unless the church steps up to help share these Biblical truths, they are forced to buy a cheap lie from the world instead. It’s our responsibility as the Body of Christ to give them what their souls crave—the One who is the Truth, and that’s Jesus.
2.) Teens Know the Bible More Than You Think
I have been impressed with the amount of Bible knowledge that most teens have retained over the few short years they’ve spent in church. Now don’t get me wrong, they still occasionally ask questions like, “Is that book in the Old or New Testament?” but the point is they know the stories. These teens have been in church long enough to know basic Bible principles like sin, forgiveness, and life after death. I understand this is not the case with all teens, but I think we can all agree at this age most teens have developed a good sense of right and wrong. They just need help applying it to every day life.
3.) They Want “Real” Solutions
When a teen comes to us with a problem they don’t need us to only quote them scripture. They need someone to explain the scripture in a relatable way and give a real life solution based on Biblical principles. Teens soon discover there is a huge learning gap in between trying to understand how to witness to their friend at school, and what exactly is the true meaning of Matthew 28:18-20 (The Great Commission.) It’s our job as youth leaders to fill that gap with a real life solution and help them create an actual plan for evangelism in their high school.
4.) They Are Under A lot Of Pressure
We all remember being a teenager and dealing with the stress of trying to fit in, make good grades, and decide on a future career. But let’s consider modern times and add to the list: turning down drugs, staying pure, declining a party invite to drink alcohol, and battling depression and suicidal thoughts. Today’s teens are fighting a battle some of us have never seen or imagined. It’s important to create an environment for our youth that is comfortable and open for them to share their daily struggles. We need to remind them that church is a place to run to when you’re broken, not a place of judgment when you fall short.
5.) They Are Actually Teaching Me
Being a youth leader has forced me to grow in many aspects of my life, but my favorite part is that even though they don’t know it, these kids are teaching me so much. They ask me hard questions that make me dust off my Bible Commentary and get prepared to give a detailed answer the following week. They remind me daily of the childlike faith Jesus talks about in Matthew 18:2, but yet encourage me to never shy away from the difficult questions society throws at us.
Teaching teens is a calling I defiantly never saw coming, but I thank God every day for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of these kids lives and share Jesus with our future generation.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (NKJV)