“What do teens want in a church?” someone recently asked me. Wow! That’s a tough question to answer. It’s like asking “What kind of music do people like?” or “What food do kids eat?”
When people are choosing a church, personal taste often plays a big role. Relevant factors include location, denomination, and where their parents worship. Other considerations are music, youth program, people they know who attend, type of building, and on and on.
Asking what teens want from church is the wrong question. What teenagers desire from a faith community doesn’t compare to what they need. So let’s look at the topic from that angle.
What Teens Need From Church: 6 Considerations
1. A place with Jesus
This is the number-one thing kids need in a church. If they aren’t meeting Jesus, then attending is a waste of time. Making kids more moral, knowing the Bible, and being nice people are all pointless without Jesus. Don’t just teach students about Jesus. Help them know Jesus.
2. A place with adults who care
Teens need adults who can invest and pour their lives into them. They need adults who can mentor and guide them on the right path. So many adults tells kids they’re not worth the time or effort. That’s why teens need adults who genuinely care.
3. A place to belong
Teens yearn for belonging. Yes, they often do stupid and damaging things to belong. What if we gave them a place to belong before they even came through the door? Our congregation and youth group should be a place where any student can be “home.”
4. A place to serve
It always amazes me what a bad rap teenagers get for being lazy and selfish. I’ve been on too many group mission trips, work camps and church service projects to see the zest and joy of teen servants. It’s a rare thing to see in adults, but young people love to serve. So churches and youth ministries need to provide opportunities. Otherwise, kids will end up being lazy and selfish adults.