This is a journalistic article from Christianity Today about how youth ministry helps grow a teen’s faith. As you will learn when you will read, it involves you and it involves the entire church family. Find a church that allows teens to be part of the life of the whole church.
When I say journalistic, I mean this is a researched article, not an opinion piece.
Here is one bit of research from the article:
“In the 2021 book Handing Down the Faith: How Parents Pass Their Religion to the Next Generation, researchers found that the most powerful influence on the faith lives of American teenagers and young adults ‘is the religious lives of their parents.’
“The authors identified three factors in determining whether an adult child remains in their faith past high school. Those factors include:
- If the family attends church at least once a week
- If the parents reported that their religious faith was ‘extremely’ important
- How often they have conversations about religious matters
“In other words, keeping kids in their faith into adulthood is nearly impossible without parental commitment.
“’If parents would increase the frequency of those conversations by just one standard deviation,’ said Andrew Zirschky, research professor in youth ministry at Austin Seminary. ‘They will have a 66 percent reported increase in their reported level of faith in 10 years.’”
Did that catch your attention? Because you will have read that here many times at Bravester.
And many more. This is what Brave Parenting is all about.
Prior to Bravester I wrote youth ministry resources banging this very drum. I wrote two cover articles for Group Magazine (THE youth ministry magazine back in the day) in the 2000s. I wrote for all the then youth ministry publications repeating what I was learning. Some of the things I wrote (and have ownership of):
- In 2007 I created a list to help youth pastors incorporate their teens better into the life of the church – Challenge: To Get Your Youth to Gain From Sunday Church
- In 2006 I wrote about what is wrong when a youth ministry is centered on a personality instead of the church family – The Bummer Realities of Brenda-Centered Youth Ministry
- In 2005 I wrote about the research I was just reading about – The Not Abandoning Church
I am banging my drum loudly–and with some bragging–in this article because I have been saying this since 1996! After having my own ministry crisis moment and spending time in a wrestling season with God. Why were my own beloved teens from my church leaving after high school graduation? Was a relationship with me not enough? What about their relationship with Jesus? What about their positive memories? No, it wasn’t. It was then that I shifted all of my priorities to better equipping of the parents.
Heartbreak is always a beginning.
May I encourage you yet again to have more conversations with your teens about faith and doubt.
May I also encourage you to find a church that doesn’t “silo” the teens from the life of the church but has place for them in the center of the church.
This will make a longer life impact than cool youth pastor Brenda. (I still think I’m cool.) To opinionated me, it is worth making a church change over. Or worth the reason to get you and your family back into church.