Imagine a place where young people are on fire for God. They can’t wait to see their friends, hear the preacher, take notes and be challenged. They are not only absorbing, but they are also pouring what they learn into others.
Imagine a place where young people come together and worship passionately with all their heart instead of just standing there through the worship service. They are so excited to be there that they actually run to the front at the beginning of worship. They are lifting their hands and down on their knees singing with all their hearts.
Imagine a place where adults have rallied around students so that there is no “us and them” mentality. Young people are embraced by every adult, and teens are actually involved in church ministry, from the worship team to the prayer team.
What does it take to build this type of church? Here are a few keys that I think must be part of making a church that welcomes and inspires teens.
Examine Your Hearts
To create a church that teens love, we must first examine our hearts. Students know when they are loved and accepted. Students also know when they are being judged. They are used to being looked down upon and criticized by the adults in their life. In return, they avoid these adults and the places associated with them – like church.
Do you show teens unconditional love and acceptance? Does your church?
Make Services Relevant to Students
It’s important that young people don’t just “do time” when they come on Sunday morning. They should feel a connection to the pastors leading service and even embrace what the church stands for. So how does that happen?
Pastors can lead the way by incorporating students into their messages. When preparing messages, plan on engaging young people specifically with a few nuggets just for them to chew on. You can even ask for their input and perspective when planning your sermons. Let them know that they are a part of the church right now, not just an appendage!
Create a Subculture
Today every student is surrounded by a worldly culture that welcomes them and lures them away from God. Is church exciting, interesting, and a place they want to be? It can be when you create a subculture in your church to attract and pour into young people.
It is possible to create this type of subculture—just take a look at Hillsong Church in Australia. Amidst a very secular society, Hillsong has created a subculture for young people and adults now 30,000 strong. This type of culture inspires teens to do great things for God. It empowers them to take ownership and be in leadership roles. Most important, it clearly communicates to teens that you are committed to them in a very deep way.
To engage and disciple young people, we must create a culture in our churches that teens want to be a part of. Church as usual has to change, because church as usual is not reaching the next generation.