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How to Disciple a Teenager Who Puts Up Resistance to Faith

how to disciple a teenager

How to disciple a teenager is one of the most frequent questions I hear. All youth leaders encounter students who, despite our best efforts, simply don’t seem interested in growing their faith. These kids show up. They hang out. But they don’t seem willing or interested in taking their faith to the next level.

So, you want to know how to disciple a teenager who puts up resistance? Want to know how to lead these students to faith growth? Want to disciple teenagers who don’t want to be discipled?

Unfortunately, we can’t.

Really, we can’t! I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve learned a lot about people and about faith development. Plus, I’ve had to unlearn and relearn a lot. Culture may change. Ministry philosophy may change. But one unchanging truth is this: No matter how badly we may want to see someone grow in their faith, if they don’t want to grow, they won’t.

No matter how committed we are, no matter how solid our ministry approach is, the individual on the other end has to want to become more like Christ. And until that happens, we won’t see a lot of fruit.

If this message seems depressing, it shouldn’t. If it makes you want to give up, don’t let it. The situation isn’t hopeless! Read on for three important tips.

How to Disciple a Teenager

The fact is, teenagers are selfish sinners. The students we disciple have their hearts bent toward themselves. (Newsflash: We are sinners too. My heart is naturally as selfishly inclined as anyone’s.) The journey toward God is a fight that goes against our sin natures. It is a credit to God’s grace and the Spirit’s power that anyone ever takes the first step toward following Christ.

Discipleship is an uphill battle. It’s not easy. And honestly, if it were, it would be boring. Part of the reward is in watching students struggle and seeing the moment when it takes.

So what do we do? Is there any method for how to disciple a teenager who resists faith? Can we do anything? Yes, I think we can.

1. Don’t give up.

Never stop trying, as difficult and as exhausting as it can be. A clock is ticking inside every teenager who seems so unwilling to grow. God is working in his or her life. We can’t see when that moment occurs, but God can. I want to be there when it happens. So do you.