I’m not a student minister, but I speak with many over the course of a year. Based on those anecdotal interviews, here are some thoughts about students to consider as your church seeks to reach them:
- A Christian upbringing is not a guarantee that students will believe the Bible. Long gone are the days when the words, “The Bible says,” were sufficient to claim authority for our beliefs. You will likely need to help students understand why we believe the Bible is the Word of God.
- They struggle with forming biblical beliefs about sexuality. That shouldn’t surprise us, though. Whenever culture makes sin more permissible, young people can be particularly susceptible to following the way of the world.
- They long for relationships with authentic adults. Many have been raised in broken homes, and they’re looking for adults who genuinely care for them and guide them. Even those living in rebellion often respond well to authenticity.
- They want these relationships, but they need help knowing how to do them. They’re a social media-grown generation that relates via the Internet and texts. Learning etiquette and protocol for face-to-face relationships with peers and adults may be necessary.
- They want to be challenged. They’re willing to tackle tough issues in Christianity, especially if they know the adult leading them loves them and wants the best for them. They’re not interested in a watered-down, weak Christianity.
- Denominations mean little to them. Even if the last five generations of their family have been in the same denomination, students feel no compulsion to stay in that denomination if some other church is doing Christianity better. Denominational loyalty is a thing of the past.
- They don’t know the Bible. Sure, they may know some of the stories if they’ve been raised in church, but they don’t know the overarching story of the Bible. In many cases, even those raised in church don’t know even the stories.
- They can be moody and dramatic. That’s the nature of teens, both male and female. Even Christians face the reality of youthful zeal, raging hormones, and unrecognized immaturity.
- When they catch fire for God, they really catch fire. Their faith will sometimes put the rest of us to shame.
- They’re not likely to wait for your church to get a good student ministry. If they stick around when your church has a lousy student program, it’s probably because their parents are requiring them to stay. The students already know which churches in your area have a stronger student ministry.
What would you add to this list? Student ministers, give us your thoughts.