What does it mean to live a spiritually vibrant life as a teen? “Strong” teens live a life of integrity, make healthy choices, have a positive outlook, and pursue a spiritual walk. Obviously, there are several factors that play into the spiritual life of teens, but that the influence of religious texts, family, and faith community are mission critical. We call these three influencing factors the “trifecta”.
Of the “trifecta,” the factor that was globally the most influential to teens was family. More specifically, teens noted that having positive family experiences played the biggest part in increasing their faith.
Does knowing that good family relationships and positive family experiences are the most important factor in the spiritual growth of a teen impact how we are strategizing and carrying out our ministries? It should.
If family is the primary factor stimulating youth to spiritual growth, then we need to be sure to leverage that influence as the vehicle of delivery for the message.
For example, scripture engagement ministries ought to incorporate family into their products and programs, while faith communities and churches need to invest in parents; create a “family ministries” department with a budget to offer parenting classes or promote family gatherings.
For teens not lucky enough to be living in a positive family environment, can strong engagement with scripture products and programs overcome the negative family environment and still produce spiritually vibrant teens?
Findings suggest a partial yes; having a faith community and interacting with sacred texts can still hold sway over a teen’s spiritual life. But the data shows that all three pieces of the PIE (positive family experience, involvement in faith community, and engagement with religious texts) will ultimately produce the most spiritually dynamic teens.
If kids aren’t from strong family relationships, then the Church needs to step into the void and be spiritual fathers and mothers to those kids—to spiritually adopt them so that they have a strong family influence. That’s the job of the Church. In societies where families are being torn apart, we have the obligation and privilege to be spiritual moms and dads and help spiritually nurture and raise the next generation.
As Christian organizations and members of the Body, we ought to be concerned about the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of teens worldwide. Our goal is to build into them a sense of wholeness and purpose that will allow them to stand strong against the forces that would otherwise shake their faith foundations.
Knowing that family is the key factor influencing the faith of this age group, we ought to be intentionally leveraging the influence of family—natural born or spiritually adopted—to grow the faith of children and teens.
So what would it look like for you to more heavily incorporate family into your ministry strategy?
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