Four proven ways to establish vibrant ministries to teenagers
The church of Jesus Christ has been renowned for being an agent of rescueâ€”rescuing cultures, people in the midst of horrific situations and generations from satanic oppression. The young generation in America today is in desperate need of rescue. As the church, we can rise up and become a source of hope instead. We have a historic opportunity to see a massive turnaround in the direction of this generation. Unfortunately, most data shows that young people are walking away from God and the church. Add to that internal struggle, as many people in church look so much like the world it's difficult to tell the difference.
For those frustrated pastors and leaders who may think there's nothing they can do to help, I'm here to tell you that you have many real teens in your community who can be forever changed by the impact of your church. I've seen this transformation. Consider these four proven initiatives that have helped churches establish vibrant ministry to teenagers.
1. Point your flock in the direction of a "Next-Gen church." A Next-Gen church focuses the heart of its people on an overflow of compassion for teens by regularly giving data and stories about the young people, both nationally and locallyâ€”how they're hurting, what's happening with their families and glimpses of their brokenness.
The bottom line is that people don't care about teens because they don't know about them. Giving the plight of this young genera-tion "air time" in the church is imperative to draw hearts of your members toward reaching kids and getting involved to make a differ-ence. You have ample opportunities: volunteering in your youth ministry; mentoring and filling the empty spot in the life of a teen from a single parent family; intentionally spending time with a troubled teenager.
2. Make ambitious plans to grow your youth ministry. A number of churches have begun a campaign to "Double and Disciple" their youth group over the course of this next year. Double and Disciple means to not only grow the size of your group, but the depth as well. We must train our young people to mature in Christ because they're needed; they're needed as leaders right now while they're 13, 14 or 15 years old. We need them to assist other teens as they take steps of growth in their faith. To that end, we've developed tools and a planning process to help churches double and disciple their youth groups.
3. Equipping parents is an absolute imperative. Many Christian parents sacrifice their kids to pop cultureâ€”feeling it's a lost cause. Yet parents have great influence on what their kids do and how money is spent. Dragging kids to church is only a beginning. We must aggressively train parents, giving them hope among the barrage of horrific values shoved down our kids' throats in the name of the "cool." To demonstrate how families can survive the torrent of sewage in our culture, leaders must show they are not just preachers but problem solvers
4. Become a strategist for the kingdom of God. Take personal responsibility to rescue this next generation. We must firmly place the baton of the gospel in their hands. The people who run MTV and most record companies are older. They're not even cool. These businessmen and women are smart and strategic, looking for the market share and mindshare of this generation.
We ought to be their Spirit-filled counterparts. How do we make it hard for the young people within our sphere of influence to go to hell? This should be our constant thought and our consuming passion. Spend time investing in the young people in your church and your commu-nity. Meet weekly or monthly with your youth pastor to talk about monthly and annual goals. You don't need to personally run the entire youth ministry; just lend your years of experience and wisdom to establishing the strategy.
By refusing to let the enemy take this generation, I believe we'll witness a great miracle. As we focus on young people for the sake of their soulsâ€”with as much or more intensity as the world is focusing on them for the sake of their dollarsâ€”we are destined to see a great revival because young people will go wherever they are valued. If we value them more than the world does, we'll win them. Remember this key truth: Whoever wants and fights for this generation the most will capture their hearts.
Ron Luce is the president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries, a Christian youth organization that has impacted millions of teens worldwide for the past 25 years. Teen Mania reaches young people through TV broadcasts, media resources, mission trips, camps and live youth events such as Acquire the Fire. For more information on Teen Mania resources and training opportunities for teenagers and the adults who care about them, go to TeenMania.com.