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What Do Youth Want From Church? And What Do They Need?

what do youth want from church

Recently, someone asked me: “What do teenagers want in a church?” Wow! What do youth want from church is 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 do youth want from church is the wrong question. What teens desire from a faith community doesn’t compare to what they need in a church. So let’s look at the topic from that angle.

What Do Youth Need From Church: 6 Considerations

1. A place with Jesus

This is the number-one thing teens need in a church. If kids 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 teens 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 church or 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 teens 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.

5. A place to encourage (and be encouraged)

Teen culture is one of tearing down and destruction. Our church and youth group culture should be one of building up and encouraging.

6. A place to grow

You’re teaching students, but are they growing? If not, you need to look at why not. Students should know that when they come to youth group or church, they’ll leave a little bit better. They’ll be a little bit changed.

What Do Youth Want From Church: Another Perspective

So instead of asking what do youth want from church, look for ways to provide what teens need. Giving them what they want might seem like the quickest way to get them in the door of your church. But giving them what they need is the best way to get them in the door of heaven. And after all, that’s what truly matters.

What else do teens need from the church? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Bill Nance has been a youth minister for over 10 years. He currently volunteers at an inner city youth mission as well as writing and sharing his experiences.