When it comes to the youth in the church, everyone has an opinion on how they should behave.
The parents hope to see their youth surrounded by good mentors, good Christian relationships, and a strong faith-based lifestyle.
The church leadership hopes to reach and shape their youth into great future leaders.
Pastor’s and spiritual leaders hope to instill a solid spiritual direction based on the word.
It’s like everyone has a to-do list for the youth in the church.
With a checklist that long, don’t you think we need to add their needs to the list?
I know, you are probably saying, “ the youth don’t know what they want or need.” Right?
The truth is that we all don’t know what we want later on what others need. We are all learners in the school of life who are trying to get to the next step in our Christian journey.
Over and over again the young people have been told that they don’t know what they need. That’s why parents choose their friends and career paths, while the church provides them “relevant” spiritual guidance.
Even though all this is done with good intentions, we run a risk of providing them with only things they should know and not what they need to advance to the next step into their Christian journey.
We need to strike a balance between teaching what they need to know and what they need to grow into their journey.
How do we know what the youth in the church need?
The answer is very simple, we have to eliminate guesswork and get the information straight from our young people in the church.
We ran a survey and collected about 200 responses from the youth from various churches and in this article we are going to cover some of the topics they want us to discuss.
Here is a full article, “ what our youth think about the church” survey we conducted.
Table of Contents
- Mental Health
- Family and Relationships
- Sexuality - LGBTQ
- Climate Change
- Peer Pressure
- Dating and Marriage
- Parent-Child Communication
Topic # 1 - Racism
When it comes to racism, it’s easy to think that only black and brown people are affected.
The truth is that the youth in the church today ( all races) are more connected and unified than at any time in history.
The youth in the church today get along better than we did, and they’ve built strong friendships.
This means that when a group of people is mistreated based on race or sexual orientation, they all are adversely affected.
Now we have plenty of resources and information about racism on the internet but not so much from the church. The question they ask is, “What does the church say about racism?”
Above all, our young people want to know how to deal with people of other races and belief systems.
The church has to address racism because not doing so is leaving it up to the circular world to have the last and only say.
The racism topic was the number one suggested topic and the church should address it.
Topic # 2 - Mental Health
Even after so many studies and talks about mental health, it’s still one of those areas most people do not want to go.
Surprisingly, mental health was the second most requested topic from the survey.
Speaking as someone who grew up in a strong African Christian family where faith and education were the order of the day, mental health was unheard of.
Any sign of mental health issues was seen as a sign of weakness and beaten out of you.
I was expected to behave in a certain way and bring certain school grades home regardless of my abilities and learning style.
A few years ago, my wife was doing her Masters in Social work and I happen to browse through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
If you have not browsed through the DSM, please do so.
To keep the story short, I was depressed after reading the book because I checked off most of the diagnoses in the Book.
You see we mental health affects everyone in one way or another and we need to be talking about it.
Our youth in the church today want us to address mental health mainly because they see their parents struggling with it.
Mental health was the second most popular topic suggestion and we really need to address it.
You can start talking about mental health right away through digital summits.
We have an article to show you how to run a digital summit for churches
Topic # 3 - Family and Relationships 👩👩👧👦
Family and relationships topic made it to the top 5 most requested topics in the survey.
About 20% of the people who suggested the topic of family and relationships went into detail to explain why.
One concern that was common is that communication with parents and church was one way. That means the adults get to control every aspect of the relationship.
For example, many young people did not like the type of sermons they were getting. They say that most sermons are geared towards adults and are not relevant to them.
When asked how they could solve this problem, the young people said having a variety of preachers would certainly solve this problem.
We must remember that church is family and for most young people, it’s the only place where they feel accepted and find meaningful relationships.
As leaders, we have an obligation to teach and help shape our young people into responsible and future leaders.
That means, when they cry out, we must listen because if we don’t, the circular world will listen and give them what they want.
Topic # 4 - Sexuality - LGBTQ 🏳️🌈
Sexuality is a difficult and sensitive topic to talk about.
When I was growing up, we had several topics on abstinence, and those where some of the best discussions we ever had.
These days, it’s really had to just talk about abstinence without going into other politicized topics.
A few months ago after a presentation, a young lady approached me and asked me a question.
She told me that her friend who grew up in church is no longer coming to church because she is gay and she doesn’t want the church to judge her. She knows what the church thinks about people like her and she doesn’t think she fits in anymore.
I don’t know about you but this is a sad situation. I know that the church is usually silent about this topic but our silence communicates one thing.
Rejection - you don’t belong, etc.
Just like racism, our young people are affected when one of them is treated differently.
We have no choice but to address LGBTQ and sexuality. Our youth need to know where we stand. Most of all, we need to show by example that God loves everyone and all are welcome.
Topic # 5 - Climate Change 🌪
What does the Bible say about climate change, isn’t it part of stewardship?
One young man asked, “ why do you only teach us about tithe, returning what belongs to God and not about taking care of our home that God has given us to manage?”
Is climate change a hoax or is it real?
If the church is silent about climate change, then we are letting the internet form their opinion and the way they perceive the world.
Topic # 6 - Pornography 📲
I was shocked to see pornography on the list. You would think that young people would hide this.
But the young people brought it up and we have to address it by all means.
An average person is exposed to so much sex every day. From billboards to magazines, the Internet, and so on.
Our young people are explorers and if your child has a cellphone, chances are they are watching pornography. If you haven't caught them yet, it means they’ve mastered the art of hiding.
Pornography is a sensitive topic and most parents would rather pretend that it’s not an issue for their children than talk about it.
The good news is that you do not have to talk about it, but you have an obligation to find someone who can.
The internet makes it possible for the church to find experts in this area to teach our children. We can tap into their expertise through virtual summits and they are easy to do.
Topic # 7 - Addiction 💊
When it comes to the topic of addiction, we were expecting it to be among the top 5 topics but it looks like the young people are less concerned about it than we are.
Addiction is a very broad topic and maybe that’s why it fell on number seven.
However, I am happy that it made it to the list of topics our young people want us to talk about.
Just like sex and mental health, you do not need to have experts in your church to address this topic. You can utilize the power of digital summits to find experts from anywhere in the world to help you.
The young people have spoken, it’s our move now.
Topic # 8 - Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is one of those topics we like to talk about to our young people, but the truth is we have no idea what they are going through.😄
When most of us were growing up, we had a very small peer pressure group and we had choices. We went through a certain pressure at school and a different one at home or church.
That’s not the case these days. Our young people are going through a global peer pressure group. Take a moment to imagine that.
The worst thing is that they are pressured in the cyberspace through devices they voluntarily carry with them.
Young people say that parents don’t understand what they are going through and maybe they are right. Maybe we are not the ones to talk to them about peer pressure because we have no idea. So we should turn to people who’ve gone through this cyber peer pressure to help.
My Final Thoughts
Reality is that every generation of young people complains about their parents not understanding them. I know I did.
The same things we complained about are the same things we do for our children. I would be lying if I said I had an answer to that coz I don’t.
Most of the time I catch myself saying the same things I hated my parents saying to. I wish I didn’t have to say them, but I am who I am today because they said and did what they did.
I am comforted knowing that if I just did part of what my parents did, I will also help shape my children into responsible adults. The keyword here is part.
That means I must do apart and leave some room for them to show their personality. My job, therefore, is to observe and try to figure out what their needs are.
Sometimes am lucky when my kids tell me what they want because I am simply not good at guesswork.
Sometimes I use my intuition and experience to get the things I think they need but I get disappointed when I find out otherwise.
Henry Form once said, “ If I had asked the people what they needed, they would have said faster horses.”
You see, in most cases, people don’t know what they want later on what others need. We are just never too good at that.
That’s why I believe strongly that the church is in a position to impact so many lives by simply doing one thing - Ask people what they need.
If we don’t do that, we ran a risk of providing things people need to know to survive and not to push them into the next step in their journey.
How can we encourage youth in church?
When you ask someone for their opinion or simply what they need, you are telling them that they matter and you see them. Everyone wants to be seen.
The youth in the church want to be seen by their church leaders and definitely by their parents.
If we fail to see them and value their opinions and needs, other people will. There are so many people out there who are paid a lot of money to SEE our young people and offer them terrible solutions.
The question you must answer today is, “Who do you want your children to be seen by?”
The church, or the circular world?
The information presented here is only a small part of the information we collected. If you want to run a similar survey for your church please reach at any time.