From the double-edged sword of new technologies to the omnipresent media, today's teens are facing unique challenges. And they often face those challenges alone—without input and guidance from adults.
Today, teenagers can go through days, if not weeks, without ever spending meaningful time with adults. The typical teenager wakes up, goes to school, and then to an extracurricular activity. They spend the majority of their waking hours interacting with other teens. If your teenager is like many today, he or she may not even eat with the family, but instead eat dinner while watching TV. After dinner, there is homework or chatting on the phone or online with—again—people their same age.
And what about Sundays at church? Even there, your teen may attend a youth worship service, attend Sunday school, or go to youth group—again, away from the influence of adults.
The result is that young adults—who desperately need the input, modeling, molding, and love of adults at this critical stage of life—are almost entirely devoid of meaningful interaction.
But even when we adults do interact with our teens, are we providing the kind of love and truth that is vital to their lives and to their souls? Of those teens in high school who profess faith, surveys by the George Barna group indicate that somewhere around 85 percent of "born again" teens do not believe in absolute truth. Nearly 50 percent said Jesus sinned during His earthly life.
It is no wonder we are losing them. Voddie Baucham, author of Family-Driven Faith, suggests the reason: "Their religion is largely ambiguous . . . due in large part to the lack of time and attention devoted to spiritual matters compared to other activities." Baucham quotes from the National Study of Youth and Religion, which says, "When it comes to the formation of the lives of youth, viewed sociologically, faith communities typically get a very small seat at the end of the table . . . dominated structurally by more powerful and vocal actors."
That's the reason teens can tell you more about the lives of their favorite TV characters than about David, Jesus, or Paul. It is why they may know more about global warming and STDs than about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Meanwhile, parents may show more concern over their teenager making good grades than on forming Christ-like character. In fact, another George Barna survey found, astoundingly, that only half of the Christian parents surveyed thought that their children having a relationship with Christ was as important as a good education. My goodness.
Clearly, it is time to knock down the walls that separate us from our teens—both at church and at home. As moms and dads, you must reclaim the God-appointed role of spiritually parenting your children and teens in a biblical worldview. And, while recognizing the value of teen-specific ministry, we need to do more to integrate our teens into the life of the whole community, where they can share their gifts and talents with the entire body of believers.
Visit our website, www.BreakPoint.org, for ideas on how to do just that, and to find out how you can get a copy of Voddie Baucham's excellent book, Family-Driven Faith.
This is part three in a four-part series.
From BreakPoint®, May 29, 2008, Copyright 2008, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship