A couple of weeks ago, one of our editors wrote a blog that touched a nerve. It was called Why We Force Our Kids, Almost Without Fail, to Go to Church. Holly Stiller, the girl in the blog, wrote back.
Advice columns and articles about keeping youth in the Church pass through my newsfeed regularly. Confused parents and pastors keep trying to figure teenagers out. Well, here’s my inside scoop on what the Church should do to keep teenagers like myself in the church.
Stop trying so hard. You are not the reason I’m at church. I am here because of God, and the work that He has done in my life. The differences that people at church share are blessings, not things that need to be bridged.
Teens don’t need a cool, hip preacher in order for us to hear from God. In fact, seeing a 50- year old in skinny jeans trying to relate to us about the Kardashians makes me really uncomfortable.
We don’t want you to pretend to have the same interests as us, because you don’t. We are at different places in life, and that’s okay. I don’t have grandkids, and you’re (probably) not taking Driver’s Ed. That’s what’s so great about the Christian community; it’s a mix of people who wouldn’t normally be with each other coming together to do the work of God. If I wanted to hang out with people who were just like me, then I wouldn’t be at church at 10a.m on a Sunday morning. I’d be hanging out with my friends – or just in my bed at home.
Here are my top four tips for churches from my teenage perspective:
- We’re not afraid of hymns. There’s something beautiful about hearing a song that’s been sung by generations of Christians. We don’t need the hottest hits from 99.9 FM to be engaged in worship.
- As cute as your kids may be, we don’t always want to be stuck babysitting. Just like you guys, all teenagers have different gifts and aren’t the same. We’d love to get involved in ministry. Give us a chance to really be a part of the body of Christ.
- Don’t dumb down the sermons. Don’t feel the need to protect us from being confused. Faith isn’t simple, being a Christian in high school has already taught us that. We want to be able to talk about the big stuff, whether you know the answers or not.
- We may do things differently. Help us make it possible, even if we’re doing it differently than you would. Yeah, we’ll probably pick pizza over egg salad sandwiches, and we may even get a little rowdy for your liking, but that’s okay.
One of the greatest parts of being in the church community is the wisdom and relationships that you can build with people who are in different places in life.
Intergenerational relationships are so important, and we do like it when older people in the church want to invest in us. We want to get to know you — we’re just a little more awkward and moody about it.
We know you like us, and we like you too.
Holly Stiller lives in Port Perry and writes for Love is Moving magazine, available in print for the first time with the Jan/Feb Faith Today, arriving with your Faith Today. Subscribe today.