As I travel around training volunteers and ministers who work with teens, they often wonder what changes they can make that will have the greatest positive impact on the faith of their teens. It’s a fair question, because it is impossible to change a lot of things at the same time. While I might list slightly different things if you asked me again next week, these changes are usually in my top five.
- Add some meaningful, hands-on activities to Bible classes. Too many Bible classes for teens become college lectures. The best high school teachers will tell you teens needs activities and project based learning almost as much as children. The activities must be meaningful and add value to the learning process. Our teen lessons have lots of free ideas you can use.
- Actively teach Christian life skills. Teens may want to do what they are taught God wants them to do, but have no practical idea of how to do them. Taking the time to actively teach them skills like godly conflict resolution can make it easier for them to obey God. We have a free Christian life skills curriculum you can use on our website.
- Make room for doubts. Provide lots of different ways for Bible students to ask their questions and express their doubts. Studies have shown that it isn’t doubts that make young people reject God, it is unanswered doubts. Make sure none of your Bible students has a doubt that goes unaddressed.
- Include teaching about logical fallacies and apologetics. Teens and young adults often believe arguments against Christianity and God – even when they are filled with misinformation and logical fallacies. They are going to eventually encounter these arguments in life – addressing them proactively now, will make them powerless later.
- Provide every teen with apprenticeship opportunities. Never heard of apprenticeships? That’s because it is something we believe needs to be a part of every congregation, but currently isn’t. Teens should have help identifying and developing their gifts. As part of the discovery and development process, they should be paired with adults using similar gifts to serve God. This gives teens mentorship from people who can help them find ways to use their gifts to serve God. It also helps them find their purpose and meaning in the church. Provide training for the adults to make apprenticeships truly impactful. (Yes, we know for many of you that means working on gift discovery, development and use with the adults first.) We have lots of blog posts and resources to help on our website.
Don’t let fear of change keep you from doing what is in the best spiritual interests of the teens to whom you minister. Make the changes that will help your teens develop the strongest possible faith foundation and develop to their full God given potential.