Perhaps the most difficult years of one’s life are the teenage years. The period when a person is no longer a child but is still not an adult. It’s the most testing time. It’s a time when the teenager experiments with drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, gangs, bullying, cyberbullying etc.
These are also difficult years for the family as parents try to get their teenagers to conform to the standards and principles which they have instilled in them as children. Navigating through these years is like a minefield filled with nasty bombs. Their bodies are changing physically and mentally as they come to terms with this. Sadly, social media hasn’t always been used in a positive way to help our young people with these changes.
With everything the world throws at our teenagers, coupled with peer pressure, it is not unusual that many teenagers, upon entering university away from home and being exposed to different philosophies, decide to leave the church and the faith that their parents cherish.
Teens Ministries is perhaps the most difficult department in the church, where one must minister to this age group. Too often in our churches, our teens are overlooked and sometimes even ostracised. It is no wonder that they leave our churches when the opportunity comes.
Though issues like bullying, substance use disorder, alcohol consumption, teenage pregnancies and gang violence were also cited as problems for our teens, mental health was found to be the top concern among the teens. Studies have shown that many teenagers suffer from depression and anxiety. Self-harm, including suicide, is also very high among teenagers in the UK and other parts of the world.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. Many teenagers see life as something that’s about to begin. They are full of hope and optimism, envisioning futures of possibility, prosperity, passion, positive relationships and perfect happiness. Some teenagers see themselves as too young to be jaded. The optimism of adolescence can be a powerful resilience buffer when things get tough.
With all that our young people are going through, we need to pray for our Teens Ministries Department as they seek to understand and work with these precious souls. I thank God for Pastor Juan Carlos Patrick and his team who have been working tirelessly by producing resources and presenting programmes for our teens.
Someone has said that “teenagers are usually happier when they’re satisfied with their lives and relationships, although nobody is happy all the time. … It’s also about understanding your emotions, taking part in different activities, having good relationships and social connections, finding meaning in life and feeling that you’re doing well.” As a church, we have this structure to make our teenagers happy. What a great opportunity we have as a church family to minister to our young people.