Archives For Youth Ministry Resources

Researchers are saying Gen Z is “probably the last and arguably what will be the most influential generation in Western history.” You care about the future of the church, so it’s probably time to familiarize yourself with all things Gen Z.

What Do We Mean By Gen Z?

One will often hear policy makers, marketing experts and church leaders referring to all those who are thirty-something or younger as ‘Millennials.’ While it may be somewhat helpful to lump everyone from this age bracket together, it can also be misleading.

While there are certainly several traits that people born between these years share, common-sense alone tells us there is a big difference between someone who is 35 (who would be classed as an older Millennial) and someone who is 9 (who would be classed as a younger Millennial)!

What are those differences? Research seems to repeatedly point to one substantial reality that differentiates Millennials and those born in more recent years: the smartphone. As we explore in our post titled Gen Z: The Internet in It’s Pocket Generation,growing up with a smartphone has had huge effects on the way young people think, learn, behave, build relationships and believe.

Because of these differences, several experts are now suggesting to break these up into two distinct generations; Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) and Gen Z (born between 1995 and around 2015).

The Last Generation?

At Reign Ministries we certainly have a vested interest in understanding this generation as we seek to care for and influence young people as part of our ministry calling. But youth workers are not the only ones giving Generation Z serious consideration.

Some experts are pointing to the reality that this may be the last generation we speak of and potentially the one that will most shape the future that is to come. Greta Thunberg, a Gen Z girl has just been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her action in fighting Climate Change. In her Ted Talk, she highlights that now is the time to act.

What leads them to make such a conclusion? Two factors stand out. Firstly, Culture is changing so quickly.

“The speed at which culture is changing will make speaking of generations and observing their general characteristics obsolete”

White, 2017

Secondly, Andy Hardy and Dan Yarnell say in their book, Missional Discipleship after Christendom, it will be harder to make distinctions between generations. This is due to advances in technology which allow all age groups to interact and influence each other equally.

Why you need to understand Gen Z

At Reign, we are equipping youth ministers and volunteers to engage with Gen Z. We train leaders serving as youth ministers in the twenty-first century and working as cross-cultural missionaries.

But really, it will take the whole of the church, old, young, and in-between praying, welcoming, and applying the gospel to reach this generation. We are all involved in the missionary task of reaching young people.

One of the most important skills a missionary must possess is the ability to interpret the culture in which he or she works. If we desire to be truly effective Churches who can build relationships with young people, provide pathways for them to explore faith and shape the forms and structures of worship and discipleship, we must be astute students of their culture. This is true even if we come from the same culture as the people we are seeking to reach.

Want to learn more about Gen Z? What motivates them and makes them tick? In a post titled, Gen Z: What Every Church Needs to Think About, Darin unpacks James Emery White’s study Meet Generation Z. What are the challenges it presents for the church?

You can watch the video below to find out more about how we are equipping youth leaders, through the Degree.

“This is the closest description of what we’ve seen the team develop in. It’s drawing upon the strengths and talents God has given each of us – and using that in a team for His Glory. To make Him famous!”

Emily Spicer, Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

It has been one week since our Moveolution Europe team landed back in the UK from their 10-day mission trip in Moldova. How did God stir up faith in the community and our team?

From Moldovan-style horse and carriage commutes to sharing the love of God with over 65 children, our team were taken on a whirlwind of a journey with God this February.

We partner with OM Moldova, a mission organisation who started sharing the love of God in Moldova by smuggling Bibles into the country during the Soviet reign, to reach children and families in Palanca.

“Having the pastor share his vision on the first night then enabled our team to know how to partner, get on board and be one cohesive team working together. “

Emily, in our team, helped keep us updated while in Palanca, Moldova. You can read her awesome diary updates for further reading, but here are some of our highlights from this years mission trip.

“We thank God because it has been the most incredible experience, living in the wonderful village of Palanca.”

Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

Time with God

The team started each day in quiet time with God, centred around a morning talk with one of our partners. This quiet time was an incredible way to focus on how God was speaking to the team and the Moldovan people and to put Him at the centre of our lives.

“At first it may have seemed a lot, but has been a divine treasure for truth and talking point amongst the team,” Emily shared. “It starts the day with God first and our priority, which is a model for life back home.”

The team felt encouraged to praise God and give thanks in all circumstances for what He has already done and promised – before the situation! The team’s trust in God grew and each step unfolded with God’s provision.

Time with God helped the team grow spiritually and ignited communications with God. Reflecting on God moving in the situations and praising Him for how he was working in Palanca brought a model for back home!

Family Visits

Visiting families in their homes was an amazing way to share the love God has for the people in Moldova.

Each house was different, however the team all agreed that the Moldovan people are all extremely hospitable. The team were deeply touched by their need and love for God!

Visiting the families was an incredible opportunity to share our story, pray for their individual needs and listen to the circumstances of the families.

“When visiting people in houses it was challenging to be in small groups – but it meant we were encouraged to speak up and share our story”.

Moved by the powerful stories of the families, our team were so encouraged to share the stories of how God had moved in their lives. Many families faced difficult circumstances, who needed the hope of Jesus.

“A lot of houses we went to wanted us to pray for health because the access to healthcare isn’t great,” shared Ali. “A lot of Moldovan’s struggle to make it to 60,70 years of age; they work hard young and get worn down.”

The team gave food parcels to the families to help nourish their bodies and told stories of hope to bring the love of God in those situations.

“Refreshing and real, the experience of house visits has been a mixture of challenge and inspiration”

In the home of one of the families the team visited, a mother with a four-month-old baby felt God in a personal way. Through the love she had for her son, she was able to understand how God unconditionally loved her and died for her. She “would die for him”, her son, just as Jesus died for her. God showed up.

Another family felt particularly touched by one of the team sharing how God had shaped them. They became more interested in how the Bible was relevant in their lives today. They began to understand how God could speak into their needs and circumstances through the bible.

Children’s and Youth Programmes

During the mission trip, our team ran and hosted children’s programmes at one of the local churches in Palanca.

Venturing out into the village, our team also went into the community to invite youth to an evening service which they also hosted.

Eager and excited, the team welcomed over 40 children on the first day and over 65 children the other days to watch plays of bible stories, do arts, crafts and games, as well as pray for the children.

The children became more open and eager to participate over the course of the programme whether it was through listening or playing games.

Things got serious during the making of paper aeroplanes and they enjoyed playing with them afterward. The games brought them such joy!

At the end of the programme the team prayed individually with each child who attended the programme, bringing an opportunity to speak God into their lives and fill their hearts with the deep love of Jesus.

The team felt grateful then to have specific time with the youth. There is something special about “Teenagers reaching Teenagers!”.

So many of the teenagers in Palanca came to the programme and engaged with what the team shared. The evening was extremely powerful.

“We reflected a generation that was listening to God and that was evident in testimonies.”

“It was great to hear the pastor of the church say he was incredibly grateful for what we did. The impact it had on the children and youth was so great, it filled his heart with joy.”

Life Back Home

Re-familiarising themselves with life back home after being taken out of their comfort zones and into God’s hands, the team are putting what they have learnt into action!

One week since returning, how is God continuing to impact our team?

Physical and Spiritual Thankfulness

Physical

Culture shock sunk in this week, as the team were faced with the luxuries which we take for granted.

During their time in Moldova, the team were faced with seeing a lack of healthcare, sanitation and safe water.

The team have come home truly appreciating and thanking God for those things which some of the world do not have access to, sometimes out of no fault of their own.

Spiritual

During the mission trip, one of our leaders, Tom, guided the team through a quiet time. In this time he highlighted that in order to live like Jesus we must thank God ahead of the situations we face.

“This isn’t just a nice saying,” says Emily. “We saw this embedded into Jesus’ ministry, such as before raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-43, Luke 9:16)”

The team are integrating both forms of thankfulness into their personal lives, but also in their youth ministries back home.

In Bicester, the team are putting God first by challenging themselves to praise God before their youth groups or places they serve in. Thanking God ahead of what happens.

Appreciating God’s Provision

Fabian, a member of our team, says he has been changed since the mission trip in Moldova. “I am thankful to God that He will always provide and meet every need we have, both physical and spiritual,” he says – even if this isnt how we always expect.

Facing desperate circumstances, the team sometimes felt helpless. One of the things that the team has appreciated since being home is trusting God to meet these needs and not relying on our personal strength.

The most powerful reaction is prayer and to trust God with providing for us.

Vicky was overwhelmed with the hospitality of the Moldovan people. “I am looking for ways to carry the hospitality of the Moldovan people into my core values in my personal life and in ministry.” Vicky shared.

To learn more about what the team got up to, read our Mission Diary, written by the wonderful Emily on our Gap Year Programme.

Thinking of taking your youth on a mission trip? Click here for our Overseas and UK Mission Trips.

Halloween is a time where we want to fill our local communities with the light of God and splice through the darkness with the truth. Here are some ideas to help the youth feel like they aren’t missing out on the fun, get their friends involved and impact the community at Halloween.

 

 

 

 

 

1) Light Festival

“Ending the night with fireworks, the Night of 1100 Lights pours light across the town but we focus on showing the love and splendour of God! We want to show that light really does overcome the darkness!” – Jo, Friend of Reign

Lots of churches are doing light and bright parties but why not make it a bit more hip with the youth? Ask the worship team or some of the musical if they can play some live music. Dress up in light, bright and sparkly costumes.

Maybe set a theme such as sparkles, glow, multi colours or maybe superheroes. You could make cosy winter drinks and set up some interactive stations around the church.

Fancy making a church-wide event? See if there is an outdoor space where the community can come along. Set up some games, music and food then fill the space with all the lights! St. Paul’s Weston hosts an amazing event called “1100 Lights”.

 

Check it out here.

 

 

 

 

 

2) Trick or Treat with a Twist

The church was built to get involved with the community and meet people where they are even if they are in darkness. Why not open the church up to Trick or Treaters, always giving treats of something yummy with words of encouragement attached to it. Fill the front of the church with fairy lights and lanterns.

Parents will probably be thankful for not having to knock on strangers doors and for non-scary costumes. It also will help the community to see youth are actually quite awesome and not as scary as they may think!

 

 

 

 

 

3) Pumpkin Lanterns

Pumpkins are normally scarily decorated but the humble pumpkin is such a yummy seasonal vegetable and makes the most beautiful lanterns when decorated with stars, lots of diamond shapes and crosses. The carvings can glimmer light onto your walls, make pretty outdoor decorations for a nighttime roasted marshmallow fire or show the community the incredible light in Jesus.

Help to reduce waste by mustering up a pumpkin soup with the insides and give it to a charity who help the homeless, or just enjoy it all together. You can make an autumnal evening of it with music, snacks and winter warmers.

 

 

 

 

 

4) Tour of Surprises

Do a daytime event on a weekend or during half term with a tour of surprises. Make a tour of the local community and arrange for the youth to receive a surprise activity, item or clue at each stop. They could also give something at each stop.

Choose 4 or 5 places such as a hospital, charity, pier, park with a pre-organised game, ice skating rink.

 

 

 

 

 

5) Harvest

Harvest is such a magical time in the calendar, with a celebration of our food and giving thanks to others. Make a celebration day or evening with fun events. Ask everyone to bring something for the local FoodBank, you could even ask to help the FoodBank organise their collections. You could do a ready steady cook dinner with teams and find some seasonal fruit, veg and staples to make a yummy dinner and eat all together. You can integrate with some fun autumn games.

 

Sometimes it can feel like the youth and the church are disconnected from each other. Here are 5 simple ways to help your youth and the church develop a relationship and feel more connected.

Our students, friends and team share some tips and tricks to help the church and youth feel more connected to each other (they may also help to get in more volunteers!)

Prayer can not only help grow our faith as it encourages us to be in conversation with God and seek His help, but it also helps us to think about what we pray.

By encouraging the church or leadership team to pray for specific things within your young people’s lives and praying with the youth for other aspects of the church, helps us to think of eachother and feel more connected.

Because prayer invites testimony, praying for each other helps the church feel connected and invites spiritual and numerical growth to happen.

It may require us to keep updated in what is going on across all congregations, teams and individual people within the church but it will also help the youth and members of the church to have something to talk about.

We believe discipleship and growing youth ministry is all about being relational, that it is more than just a programme.

Youth ministry thrives for relationships helping them with their spiritual adventure. Help the church to see that youth ministry isn’t just a programme but a place to see the youth’s relationship with Jesus grow by being relational and working as a community!

We are near enough born for relationships and connecting with others. Christian author, Stasi Eldredge, says;

Part of discipleship is being overseen by a spiritual parent. One of the best ways to see youth and church members disciple others is by seeing how healthy discipleship works from your example.

Encourage your team to spark conversation with the youth and be real, help show the church the youth are wanting a relationship with God and connection with the community and no one is too old for getting down with the youth!

Inviting people in to talk to the youth about their testimony or have a go at serving on the youth team is a great way to help the youth get to know people in the church and know who they are.

Often, I felt the youth got a bit bored with my voice and having someone fresh to talk to help inspire them. They may feel like someone else in the church inspires them with their faith more or their story may resonate.

When someone comes to faith often they feel motivated to serve and help others, sometimes serving helps us to come to faith because we see generosity, love and relationship. The Bible inspires us to serve, and joy can come to us through helping.

Asking the youth to help serve on a team will not only make the teams super grateful but will help the youth to build relationships with people in the church and with God. Working together can be fun, starts a conversation and helps us to feel part of something.

It also helps the youth to see the generosity of the volunteers helping and maybe help them to respect you. Serving on a team can be so life-giving and gives all the feel-good vibes!

Many studies have found having a mentor helps people massively in all aspects of life, especially teenagers. According to research from 2008, having a healthy mentor-style relationship during teenage years helps to reduce the likelihood of substance abuse, promotes better mental health, increases confidence, betters academic performance and improves family relationships. This relationship helps youth to feel listened to, supported and increases personal relationships.

So many of our students are inspired by people in the church who mentored them or invested time into their spiritual journey. This helps to ignite a passion to do the same.

Alex, who is currently studying on the Degree says; “Because people discipled me and invested into my life, I want to do the same for others. I want to be the person who invests into others and helps the to grow in their relationship with God.”

If you feel they are able, it may be good for the youth to mentor someone else. Maybe there is a younger person in the youth who would benefit with a mentor in your youth group.

Action!

Finding a Mentor – Ask the church if there is anybody who would like to be a mentor for one of the young people and to sign up in whichever way is easiest for your context. Then you may be able to see people who would suit mentoring a specific young person in the group.

Sam, Friend of Reign

We hope this gave you some inspiration! For more resources, stories and information check out our blog and website

*With all these suggestions make sure you keep on track with safeguarding and DBS. Speak to a church leader if you need any help with this. Have fun!

 

In this, our third and final podcast, we talk with Reign Ministries Director, Kyle McKinnon and youth practitioners Brad Laing, Meghan Murphy and Sam Williams, as well as researcher Phoebe Thompson about the implications of the Losing Heart report for youth ministry training organisations.

If you have a heart to change the trend in your local context and could use support and training, contact us to see how we could help prepare you to develop an effective, disciple-making ministry in your church or youth project.

 

Today’s podcast is fifteen minutes long.

 

The team at Youthscape Centre for Research surveyed over 2000 churches regarding their youth and children’s work.  It’s key three findings are that:

  1. Churches, especially smaller ones, do more children’s work than youth work.
  2. Churches are failing to talk about the topics young people want to discuss.
  3. Churches know that they are struggling with their children’s and youth work but don’t know how to fix it.

The Losing Heart report suggested a crisis of confidence that churches have in their ability to reach young people.

Yesterday we began our podcast series with researcher, Phoebe Thompson sharing a summary of the Losing Heart report.  If you missed yesterday’s introduction podcast, you can listen to here.

In todays podcast we discus the report with a team of youth ministers.  We discuss how the church can better prepare itself to receive youth, and the role of the volunteer in the future of youth ministry.  Today’s podcast is 15 minutes long.

 

 

In December 2016 a sobering report was released by Youthscape Centre for Research.  It highlighted the crisis of confidence that churches are having about their ability to engage young people.

Many simply can’t seem to provide any youth work or don’t have any young people left to work with, and it’s hard to know what comes first: young people leaving the church, or a lack of youth provision. For many of these churches, the workers are few and they are losing heart and confidence.

Losing Heart Report, Page 8

Since our heartbeat at Reign Ministries is to train youth ministers and volunteers and spark movements of discipleship among young people we thought it imperative to sit down with researcher Phoebe Thompson and discuss her findings.  We’ve broken our podcast into three parts which we will run over the next three days.

If you would like to read the research for yourself you can download it at:  https://www.youthscape.co.uk/research/publications/losing-heart

Today’s podcast is just over eight minutes long.

Year three student Annabel Stott brought four young people from St. Francis Church in Doncaster to Moldova with us last week.  Here are her reflections on how the trip will transform those who participated:

 

“…The five of us from Doncaster were part of a much larger group totalling 19 from England; Scotland, Portugal and America…

As this was the first time that we have taken a group from this church away on a mission trip, it felt important to take a group of young leaders who could be influential in our own mission and ministry back home in Doncaster; with the hope that the trip would inspire them to come back and be role models for the younger youth in our church and community. Who knows, hopefully next year we will take even more out to Moldova! For all of them this was their first mission trip, for a few it was the first time away from home and for a couple the first time out of the country, so don’t feel like you have to be well travelled to join one of these trips! The experience has completely changed their lives and they have all come home more inspired and much bolder.

At the start of the trip we flew out to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova to meet with the OM (Operation Mobilisation) team and to prepare for the culture that we were to submerse ourselves in for the next week. The following day we headed out to Bravicea, a village 2 hours away from the capital to join a church which was to be our base for the week of ministry; there were mixed emotions and nerves at this point from the team but we already felt like we had known each other for more than the three days we had been together, with so much morale and positivity going around!

From this base we went out to deliver food parcels and do home visits to vulnerable members of the community in the villages of Bravicea, Schinoasa and Hoginesti. The home visits were a very challenging part of the trip for many of the group as they opened our eyes to the extremely poor conditions that most of the people in these villages were living in.

In the winter in Moldova, people often use only one or two rooms in their houses in order to stay warm and keep the house heated during the freezing months. This presented a challenge when we tried to fit a good 15 people into one bedroom (and some funny pictures too!), but these spaces were also where we had the opportunity to spread hope, hear people’s stories, speak words of truth over people from the Bible, pray for healing and salvations. During the week the team saw 10 healings and 12 salvations…how amazing is that! This was such an encouragement to us as looked at our own communities and ministries back in the UK.

As well as home visits we also participated in church services, youth services and kids clubs where we shared testimonies and a word, did games and activities and prayed for the churches and their members. This was such a fun way to get involved with the communities as we could see how God was working and pulling people together for his common good.

We were blessed with amazing accommodation and food for the whole trip; the OM centre and the church in Bravicea were incredible examples of how to be hospitable. One of the main things we saw from this trip was how generous the people of Moldova are as they continuously wanted to serve us and extend generosity and hospitality to us. For example, a lady in her 80’s who was so filled with joy ensured that all 11 of us were seated in her bedroom before she sat on a tiny stool with us! As well as this, an inspiring group of ladies from the village cooked for us all three times a day everyday to ensure we were prepared to go out and do ministry; they not only served us but loved on us too. One girl on the trip turned 15 mid-week and as the UK leaders frantically rushed out to a local shop to find a cake, they returned to plates of ice cream, baskets of chocolates and biscuits, fizzy pop and TWO gigantic homemade cakes! A definitive picture of love and generosity from such humble women.

One of the biggest encouragements from this trip was seeing young people from three groups across the UK (plus a couple ‘nomads’ and an American!) come together under one name; Reign Ministries UK, without really knowing each other but with one heart and purpose; to love the people of Moldova, to love God and connect the two together. As a leader on this trip, I found it inspiring watching these young people join with one vision and an endless stream of passion to join in God’s mission for a week in a country that most of them had never been to. They served, the stepped out, they showed great faith and most of all they never stopped loving. They never stopped loving Moldova, they never stopped loving each other and they never stopped loving God. Their love just grew

I have tried to summarise this trip in several ways, yet the only way I seem to find most fitting is with this statement that we focused on in our devotions during the week; it became the heart beat for our ministry and will stick with us as we continue to serve God back home.

 

‘I am deeply loved by God, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, powerfully equipped, totally accepted and complete in Christ.’

 

As this sunk into our hearts it spread out into our ministry and my prayer is that it continues to do that here in the UK.

If you, or a young person you know feels they want to step out in seeing God work across Europe, to be inspired and to become part of a team family, then definitely consider a trip to Moldova with Reign Ministries UK! Our Doncaster team hope to return next year, if not sooner! Get in touch with Reign Ministries UK or myself if you want to know more.”

 

As our students learn about how to boldly and relevantly take the gospel into the ordinary places of life they walk the line between making the gospel as attractive as possible and Jesus’ call to discipleship.  Third year student, Lucy Butler shares her passion to call young people to respond to the gospel.  Lucy regularly combines creativity with the concepts in The Stir Pack to help young people experience God for the first time

“I expect that no one wants to be a sales person for Jesus. It just doesn’t sound appealing. In fact, to me it sounds manipulative and it seems to make God seem small and incapable of being that good if we are having to persuade people into following him. I wonder, if at some point in your ministry you have had a time or a one off where you found yourself acting like you were selling God? Has there been a moment where you felt under pressure to make the gospel look as attractive as possible so that a young person didn’t say no?

I actually like selling things but I really hate selling God. I don’t see Jesus presenting the gospel that way. Through the gospels he is able to let people walk away from him if they choose to. He is also really clear that he is hard to follow and that it will demand a cost of commitment from the start, which will only increase throughout a lifetime with him.

lucy-collage

But us youth worker types are dreamers. We have big ideas for our ministries and big hopes for our young people. I wonder, how many of us have considered how we currently present Jesus to our young people? Have we already practiced what we say about how wonderful life is with God? Do we feel apologetic when we share about how hard it is to follow Jesus? I have felt apprehensive about having that conversation because it is hard to tell someone with a fledgling faith that God will get you into trouble and will really mess up your own plans, mostly because that can cause people to say no to God.

A heart of discipleship is key to a young person’s understanding of God. They need to know their identity as a disciple and their personal responsibility to disciple others throughout the rest of their life. This is the challenge that Jesus came to call people to, so why do we leave it out? An empty invite isn’t exciting and that’s probably why a lot of Christian youth are bored and confused about when the abundant life they were promised actually begins. I wonder if young people who know that they are disciples from the very beginning of their faith journey, find it easier to embrace that call to follow Jesus and disciple others.

At Reign conference, we looked at different frameworks for challenging young people with the gospel. I felt prompted to make sure that the challenge is present very early on in my discipling relationships with young people. For example, young people who come along to a Stir group, haven’t signed up to hear about Jesus but they have shown an interest in being part of the group.

Because of that, I think it’s very important that Jesus is talked about early on in the group and we communicate well about who Jesus is and what following him. We should be clear and open about our passion for disciples to be made but we need to recognise what the group currently is about and where young people are at. In time we can create decision points where young people have the choice to hear more about Jesus and to decide to practice this way of living.  It’s all about timing and listening to the present reality whilst still dreaming about the end goal of the group. The challenge needs to be obvious in any place where the gospel is being talked about.

Speaking from my own experience of coming to faith, just before I turned 18, I was actually completely inspired by the realisation that I was a disciple and that I had a call to go and disciple others. I remember sitting at a youth evening and physically feeling adrenaline at the thought of that responsibility. It set my faith into motion and made it exciting. I don’t want young people to miss out on that. I want discipleship to inspire people to grow in their faith and be a catalyst for movement to take place. We need to put challenge alongside our invitation.”

 

We are all learners when it comes to sharing the gospel.  Do you resonate with Lucy’s struggle?  How do you balance the invitation to the gospel with the challenge of discipleship?  Let us know how you’ve wrestled through this in your own mission or youth group.

This week, children and pre-teen specialist, Sarah Caton reminds us of some of the unique developments 11-14 years olds are going through and how their faith is developing. 

Woah, remember being a 11-14 year old? You know, that stage when kids question or argue about everything….when they seem to struggle with their identity, and start caring more about what their friends think of them….and when they’re oh so moody… Yeah, most of us try to forget! Maybe you work with this age group, or have one or two in your house (like I do). I wonder what would happen if we started to shift our mindset from seeing characteristics of this life stage as something to ignore or change, to something that we can actually use to ground them in their faith?

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Why all the questioning?

Pre-teens may not actually ask loads of questions out loud, but you’ll “hear” them in the way they act. Sometimes these questions can sound critical, but let’s think of it as a new super-power! Adolescents have a new ability to think abstractly, to go beyond the facts to the how’s and why’s of life. With all this questioning comes a new ability to take into consideration the perspective of another, and when they can do that with God, their faith grows to a new level. And when they can do that in the context of a spiritual family (whether at home or in the family you create in your youth group), powerful things can happen.

 

Here are 2 questions adolescents ask (usually by how they act):

 

Question 1: Who am I?

Individualisation, or “becoming one’s own person” is an important goal for adolescents. The fact that adolescents are wondering “who am I” and “do I matter” seems to drip from their very sweat glands, possibly quite literally! And it’s in this place that we get to come alongside them and point them to God, who calls them beloved. Look for ways to ground them in their identity as a son or daughter of God, who loves them perfectly, just the way they are. Remind them of their identity often. Do this by interacting with the overarching story of God and the good news of His grace and wide love and acceptance of them through Jesus.  The answer to the question: Who am I? You are God’s child, fully loved and accepted.

 

Question 2: Whose am I?

This transformation of becoming one’s own person isn’t meant to happen in isolation. It requires the interdependence of community in order to be a thriving experience. We see pre-teens grasping for who their friends are, trying to figure out how to relate to others. We get to come alongside young people in this search and help create and provide the community they so desire to be part of.   Statistics show that parents are more influential in young people’s healthy development than any other external force.  Adolescents still want, and need (whether they show it or not) parental influence, advice, nurture, and guidance. The church also has a unique opportunity to be a community for young people. According to Lifeway Research, teens who had five or more adults invest in them were less likely to leave the church as they approach adulthood. It’s through these relationships that questions about life and faith are best asked, when we have created an environment of trust that is shaped by the Gospel. The answer to the question: Whose am I? You are an important part of our family, our community, and are part of God’s story.