It can be a struggle to go deeper with teens in a traditional church setting. When it comes to most traditional churches the pathway is through sacramental preparation. Doesn’t matter what sacrament you are covering the context of the preparation is usually in a classroom setting.
The pressure is to cover as many items and topics as possible. Even if you hit every truth and tradition all you do is overwhelm the student. Many times going deeper in a traditional church setting is like expecting a thirsty person to drink from a fire hydrant. It can be too much. (For more on shifting paradigms, click here)
To help students embrace the core truths and deep traditions of your denomination you need to go beyond the classroom. Instead of looking to teach from the head of the class consider taking them on a journey where you:
- Hook Them Up With A Mentor: No matter how old your church the traditions it has can be complex and difficult to understand. Find an adult who can personally connect with teens and bring the richness of a tradition to their language. While you can do this in a small group setting, one on one enables the conversation to get personal. This way a teen can ask intimate questions and not feel “judged” by their peers for not knowing.
- Give Them Personal Tools: The misconception when it comes to growing in your faith is that there is only one way to do it. In reality there is a pletheora of tools, habits and disciplines that will help us grow. Instead of handing a list share with each student what has worked for you. Allow them to see that they can connect with Christ in a number of ways.
- Prioritize Authenticity Over Perfection: Discipleship in a traditional church setting can sometimes have the reputation that only perfection is welcomed. The truth is that perfection is only found in Christ; therefore, you need to teach teens to come to Christ open and authentic. To do this remind teens that their discipleship is a journey, not a course where they need straight A’s. Jesus isn’t judging them on their knowledge, it’s really what’s on their heart.
- Inspire Them To Grow On Their Own: In the end your time with your students is limited. If you want them to go deeper in their faith, and embrace tradition then you need to help them grow on their own. Give them ownership of their faith by casting a vision of what it will look like if they take lead in the church. Many times people reject tradition because they don’t think they can own it. Give them that vision.
The more your teens see going deeper as a personal life changing journey the more they’ll engage. Teens want something real and they want to know the why behind your challenges. Connect them with someone who cares and help them take ownership. When faith gets personal it allows you to go deeper in your relationship with Christ no matter the complexity of the tradition.
How do you help teens go deeper in their faith?