“Back in my day, teens _________” – fill in the blank with countless things you have either heard older people say, or maybe you even said. Teenagers today get a bad rap because the older generations see them as different. They are almost like aliens due to the difference in culture.
Now I understand as someone called to work with teens, who has the passion and desire to live life in the trenches with the, this is easy for me to say. However, I also believe that this is something which we should all have in the church. Now maybe working or volunteering directly with teens is not for you, but there are other ways to love and support them as well. Youth ministry is expensive, as is everything else in the world. Parents are stretched thin with fees and payments for extra-curricular activities, youth group, and other things. Maybe you do not desire to volunteer with teens, but you could help support them by donating to the youth group for a kid who cannot afford camp.
But off that soap box of serving and support, we will come back to that idea in another blog post. Today I want to talk about why it is you should love teens. While I can name plenty of reasons, I have narrowed it down to three major reasons why people in the church should love teens:
- They are hungry
- They need the love and guidance
- Jesus loves them
So, let us go a bit more in depth with these three ideas.
They are hungry.
Teens today are longing to make a difference in the world in whatever ways they can. For this reason, countless teens are involved (or vocal about) social justice and politics as the platform they see possible. These teens long to help change the world, and the church is a great vehicle to change the world. We know this world is broken and needs Jesus, not some new political leader. When we love and champion teens, we can set them up to impact this world for Christ and follow the way of the cross.
They need the love and guidance.
You remember what it was like to be young and stupid, and so do I. Ignorance is a barrier which holds numerous teens back from feats they could accomplish. I know many teens still desire to “learn for themselves,” but they do not only need your love and guidance before these events. These teens need your love and guidance on the backside of a major decision as well, positive or negative to help process and put together what happened. A professor of mine in college said that “a pastor does not hold your faith together, he helps you piece your faith back together stronger when it has been shattered.” Yet this idea does not just pertain to faith or to pastors. Parents and mentors also help piece together what happened on the backside of a success or tragedy just as much to help it strengthen.
Jesus loves them.
I do not mean this in a cutesy way, or a “Jesus says let the children come to me” kind of way. I genuinely mean that Jesus loves teenagers just like he loves you and me. Jesus loves the entire world, regardless of race, gender, age, and anything else which “divides” us. And if Jesus loves other people and we are to be Christ-like, then we should be loving others as well. So, if you cannot get on board with either of the other reasons I mentioned, you should simply love others because Christ does as well.
Also remember that when you were a youth, the older generations were saying the same things about you! You were that hooligan who did not know how to behave because you were different than they are.