I have just begun to volunteer with my church’s youth group (high school age). We’re a new-ish church, and the youth group is quite small – only three kids, really, and they aren’t terribly close. So we’re trying to engage new youth, to do community-forming activities, and to draw the youth and the adult members of the church closer.
This weekend, I was on a retreat with the women of the church. We got to talking about the youth, and the women of the church expressed how much they wanted the youth group to grow and to engage with the adults. I replied by saying how wonderful that would be, and started giving some ideas about how she could start that process. She seemed surprised, and countered with ideas about how the youth could start that process.
The problem here is that teenagers, including church youth, often feel ostracised by the adults around them, whether that is the intention of the adults or not. So teenagers don’t tend to reach out. They can’t be the ones expected to start the relationship. Adults have to be the ones. They have to prove that they want the teenagers around before teenagers are willing to take part.
So at church this Sunday, or at school, or in your neighborhood, or wherever you go where teenagers also tread, remember that you have to be the one to go up to the teenagers and start the conversation. Take that responsibility! Claim it as yours!
Then come back and let us know how it went, engaging with teenagers you don’t yet know.