I often hear people talk about how messed up this generation of teenagers is—and their concerns are valid. Take a look at these statistics from Teen Mania Ministries: 1
If you feel that this generation of teens is in trouble, you’re right. But the picture is not as bleak as it seems at first glance. Some of these troubled teens are also searching for God. And there are many committed teenagers who stand up for what they believe in, and who refuse to conform to the world.
- 1 in 4 use illegal drugs
- 1/2 are no longer virgins
- 1 million are pregnant
- 340,000 get abortions each year
- 9 out of 10 have viewed online pornography
- 1/3 have been drunk in the last month
- 40% have engaged in self-inflicted injury (cutting, burning, scratching)
I witnessed such a group tonight. I took several girls to a worship event for teens in a nearby city. As I sat in the audience and looked around, I saw teens with bright eyes and smiling faces. During the concert they praised God without inhibitions by energetically jumping to some of the songs, and worshipfully raising their hands to others. When the speaker preached about overcoming sin in their lives you could have heard a pin drop. And when he had an alter call, some nearly ran to the front, as if he was handing out money.
How Can We Encourage You?
Later, I asked the girls, “What can we adults do to support your relationship with Jesus? How can we encourage you?” Here’s some of what they said:
What I got out of their remarks is that our teens want to be trusted. They want a voice. And they want to serve God along side us with their own unique gifts.
- Don’t criticize the music that is worship to us
- Be a role model for us in your lifestyle—don’t expect us to act right when you don’t
- Pray for us—and tell us that you do
- Let us know when we do something right
- Encourage us to lead out—help us believe that we can do it
- Show us the joy of serving God—we need to see happy adult Christians
- Give us responsibility, but let us choose how much we can handle
- Remember that you have teens in your church—that not everyone is an adult
In addition to hearing about the concerns of today’s youth, I also hear a fair bit of criticism concerning their style of worship—their choice of music and style of preaching. But as I sat in the auditorium that night and looked at the rows of teens I thought, “There are so many other places they could be on this Friday night…. They could be getting drunk at an unsupervised party, doing things they’ll regret in the back seat of a car, club dancing, or watching some worthless movie.”
It moved me when I realized: they chose to come here. I say we support them in every way we can.