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What should the church expect from teens?

As time goes by, the numbers of Christian teens falling away continue to climb. One of the main causes of the problem is that we expect so little from the youth in the church. If a teen comes to worship and class periods and makes it to some of the youth group activities, we consider them to be doing well. The fact is, we treat them like youth group members and not Christians. What should we expect from teens?

First, we should expect to see spiritual growth. Many times we see a teen get baptized at 13, and by the time they turn 18 we just hope they can stay faithful through college. Anyone else that has been a Christian for 5 years is expected to be an involved, faithful member. We should expect nothing less from teens. The commandment to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) applies to Christians of all ages. We need to teach them to study God’s Word and guide them into a strong relationship with God that is based on their own faith, not the faith of their peers or youth minister.

Second, we should expect to see involvement. There’s nothing wrong with teens attending youth activities, but in many cases that’s all we expect from them. If they are Christians, they are members of the church, not the youth group. They should have a willingness to serve in any area the church needs, whether it’s teaching classes for the little ones, helping prepare for church activities, spending time encouraging others, or any other area that needs their help.

Third, we should expect them to be setting a positive moral example for those both younger and older than them. A Christian is a Christian, no matter what age. Once you become a Christian, you take on the task of living a life for Christ. Teens are no different. They should be setting a Christ-like example in language, dress, relationships, and any activity they take part in. We know that 1 Timothy 4:12 wasn’t exactly written to teenagers, but it applies in the fact that no matter what age you are, it’s fair to expect Christians of every age to live as an example of all believers in “speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.”

As we raise our expectations for teens, let us who are older set the example and help them meet those expectations. The ultimate goal is to help as many people get to heaven as possible, and by challenging each other to reach for a greater relationship with God and His church, we can help spur each other on toward the goal.




  1. What a great reminder! We tend to section out our congregations these days which causes us to lose sight that we all are one body and all are called to live and serve God in the same ways no matter our age. We should be teaching our Christian teens to live for Christ and not just their “youth groups” and fun activities.

  2. Ryan Gallagher

    April 8, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Thanks for the great thoughts. I think we’ve all been guilty of coddling teenagers and placing them in positions where they can’t grow. What we really need are teens who strive to grow and continue into adulthood. Thanks again for the remarks.

  3. This is excellent. I have often marveled at how the church constantly serves the youth (pizza parties, recreational outings, etc.), yet never expects any service in return. I wonder why churches don’t make more use of the strength and exuberance of its younger members in service to its members who are in need, like the elderly and/or incapacitated. Yard work, car washing, home repairs — why aren’t young people allowed to minister in such ways? Instead of nothing but bowling parties, frisbee, youth retreats, etc., how about a youth group whose mission was fellowship with each other, but within the context of service to the church body or the community? One thing I remember strongly about my own adolescence was its overwhelming self-centeredness. This sin is something to crucify, not encourage.

  4. Wesley

    April 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Tim, Ryan, and Paula thanks for your comments.

  5. With your permission I would like to put a link to this on our youth ministry Facebook page. More parents need to read this.

  6. Wesley

    April 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Feel free. Thanks

  7. Hit the nail on the head bro! We need more YMs with your good sense! —JLP

  8. The reason most teens fall away is because they are not saved, they have not been born again. We live in a land where if you pray a prayer and ask Jesus into your heart, you are saved! But the scriptures say you must repent, turn from your sins, and trust in Christ in order to be saved, not walk an isle, have the pastor put his hand on your shoulder, bow your head, and repeat a prayer.

    The problem is, most young people (including myself), when they are young, go to vacation bible school, hear some extremely watered down things about Jesus, have a bunch of silly little plays and skits that teach nothing more than morality, and then somewhere along the line have somebody talk about asking Jesus into our hearts. After we do this, we are baptized and then sit and church LOST, on the road to destruction, and have no clue about it because nobody seems to preach truth anymore.

    Then, when all the teens go away to college, they find that drinking and partying are fun so they forsake the faith for it. They prove themselves to have never had any saving faith in Christ.

    I was like this, I sat in church most of my life, prayed everyday, read my bible, the whole game. My parents would bring me to youth group and things like that and I hated it.

    The problem was not that people were not treating me like a Christian, the problem was that I was lost and nobody was telling me the truth. I don’t EVER remember hearing a clear presentation of the gospel in my life prior to my conversion. I pretty much sat in a big southern baptist church (this is not a local problem either) thinking I was a Christian. Nobody ever told me to examine myself, nobody ever told me to see if my faith was a saving faith and not a dead faith that James 2 talks about, nobody ever confronted me about my wicked life, etc…

    The Lord led me to true salvation by preaching I found on youtube, not by the “church”.

    It is a sad state that American Christianity is in. I highly recommend people watch the below sermon. It was given to 5,000 of these youths at a conference. It is amazing what is said.

  9. Just to show some sort of relevance to this article, I believe I was saved somewhere in 2009 when I was 19. I am 21 now and the Lord has been leading me ever since.

    Please take the time to watch the video I posted above, it is so important that people see it and deals with so many important issues.

  10. The Christian faith is a persevering faith and a Christian is a Christian is a Christian. I believe as the days continue winding down the level of apathy is just growing more distinct for serious Christians to see. Where people once “went along” for their parents, friends, or peer’s sake, they are no longer attempting to fit in. One of the greatest ways to accurately determine someone’s faith is knowing what they do when no one is around to pull or push. Unfortunately, so many of these “youth” events and movements are almost entirely peer pressure driven and we wonder why they have “turned away” from their so called “faith” as they age.

  11. I think you are right about this but I don’t think it’s complete. Teens who are Christians are still in their infancy and need to be directed. We need to stop with the sugar coating and teach teens how to deal with real situations. The churches that have programs that teach their teens the stories about Noah’s ark and Jonah and the whale and not how to apply Biblical stories to their real lives are going to lose these teens by the time they are walking down the isles to get their high school diplomas. If by what you say a teen is a Christian just like the adults in their church then why aren’t we putting the new adult Christians in with the new teen Christians to learn on the same level. between the ages of 13 and 17 we expect our teens to grow so fast that we forget they are only children.
    Thank you and god bless.

  12. Christians… I am a non-believing teen and I claim the right to be an atheist. I insist that my right to hold my views be respected. If not, then on what basis do you expect others to respect your beliefs in return?

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