Real-Life Connections Matter: Why Teens Need Youth Ministry Now More Than Ever

Jlivingston   -  

As a parent, it likely comes as no surprise to you that our teenagers are living in two worlds. Unlike the teenage years of many of us parents, they live life in a constantly changing, evolving, captivating, and alluring virtual world.

Now to be clear, all technology isn’t bad, and there are certainly benefits our kids are growing up with than we may have had. Still, as screen time has increased and unlimited access to information has found its way into the hands of our kids we’ve seen an alarming increase in mental health and an isolation that is hard to ignore.

A result of this is that our teens are often content to stay home in their rooms, on devices detached from what’s going on around them, and sometimes struggle to make connections and friends. They carry a weight and awareness of the world unlike any generation before them simply because they are aware of the world’s problems as they happen. Our teens find themselves constantly comparing themselves and their lives to a barrage of influences filling their feeds on a daily basis.

As parents we often find ourselves feeling out of our depth navigating challenges our parents never had to deal with when we were growing up. This can leave us feeling alone and overwhelmed ourselves.

It is because of these things and many more that is why teens need youth ministry now more than ever. I am admittedly biased as the Student Pastor at HDC, but I believe I would feel this would be true even if I wasn’t.

Here are seven reasons this is true:

1. When your teen is involved in the youth ministry they get to be around other adults living out their faith.

Maybe one of the biggest and most impactful things often overlooked is the impact that small group leaders have on the teenagers they serve. Having adults who can be role models and mentors to teens may be more important than ever.

Studies have shown that if a teenager has at least 7 adults who love Jesus investing in their life there is almost 100% chance that they’ll follow Jesus as an adult themselves. These can be parents, neighbors, coaches, grandparents, pastors, or small group leaders. The combination doesn’t matter really. By having your teenager in the youth ministry you give them more adults surrounding them who love Jesus. That is a win for sure.

2. When your teen is involved in the youth ministry they get a chance to be a teenager without the pressure they often feel.

While the study of God’s Word is central to what we do in the student ministry, we also are aware of the life stage our teenagers are in. Given this we want to also provide a ton of opportunities for teenagers to have fun and just play without the pressure that they seem to find and feel everywhere they look these days. Whether midweek programming, camps, mission trips, or retreats we want to make sure that what our students are experiencing at HDC is truthful and helpful, but also enjoyable.

3. When your teen is involved in the youth ministry they have an opportunity to make friends in real-life.

Making friends might be harder than ever in a world where we are connected more than ever. When students show up consistently and plug into a small group they have a greater chance of developing real-life friendships. Throw in camps, mission trips, and other student activities and it becomes pretty hard for a teenager not to meet someone they connect with.

4. When your teen is involved in the youth ministry they are equipped to live out their faith.

At the center of all we do is the teaching of the Bible. We teach it in large group settings, discuss it in small groups, and live it out on mission trips and serve opportunities. We lean into how the truth found in the Bible challenges and applies to us today. Our hope and goal is that as we partner to equip students they are hearing what God has to say through study and watching parents live it out on a daily basis. We desire deeply for students to leave their time with us more confident in what they believe, more convinced of who they are in Christ, and more equipped to live that out in their daily lives.

5. When your teen is involved in the youth ministry they get to find their purpose and their place.

Every teenager I know is asking the questions, “Who am I?,” “What is my purpose here on Earth?,” and “What is God’s will for my life?” We believe that every believer is equipped with a God-given purpose and gifting to live out.

As students learn more of who God is and who God has called them to be they gain a better understanding of what it is that they are to do with their life. More important than that maybe is understanding their identity in Christ.

6. When your teen is involved in the youth ministry they learn to see the world with an eternal perspective.

It is easy to get lost and overwhelmed at the circumstances of the now. I have often told students we aren’t inviting them to just be a part of a youth ministry, we are inviting them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. As students learn more of who God is and how God works they have the opportunity to see things from a more eternal perspective.

7. When your teen is involved in the youth ministry you find a partner who can come alongside you as you parent in this crazy world.

Parenting teens isn’t for weenies. It can feel overwhelming at times and it is easy to find yourself feeling like you’re going it alone. Having your teenager involved in the youth ministry gives you partners who can come alongside you as you seek to parent your kid to love Jesus.

It is our deepest desire to be your cheerleader, encourager, and teammate as you parent your teenagers through all the crazy that comes. The truth is though that we can only partner with you to the extent you allow us to. You don’t have to go it alone and we hope you’ll find a trusted partner in us.

We hope you know that we are always here for you and for your teenager. We also hope you see the value of having your teen involved in the youth ministry. It seems that it’s more important than ever.