Your preteens will need a strong spiritual foundation to face serious distractions such as doubt, peer pressure, temptations, and stress. To help you take steps now to prepare kids for the challenges ahead, Children’s Ministry Magazine talked to Christian teenagers about their faith, what’s influenced it, and what’s challenged it. Because they’re just like the kids who are growing up in your children’s ministry, these teenagers’ insights can pave the way for the next generation of teenagers — no matter what life brings their way.
The Family Factor
When asked about the biggest influence on their faith so far, teenagers we interviewed overwhelmingly answered “family.” Surprisingly, though, the family members making the impact changed as kids aged. During childhood, kids say, their parents left the biggest impression on them spiritually. But during adolescence, siblings fill that role, as do peers, youth groups, teachers, and mentors.
“My parents have always had a big impact on my faith — and continue to,” says 15-year-old Mary Grace Joseph of Springdale, Arkansas. “They consistently pray with us each day and read from God’s Word. They’re two of the strongest Christians I know.”
Thomas Haugan, 17, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, says his parents affected his faith the most as a child. But now his older brother and a recent missions trip are having the greatest impact on him spiritually.
Parents’ importance in children’s spiritual development can’t be underestimated. Kristi Andrews, youth minister at St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church in Lakewood, Colorado, says of her youth group of 30 teenagers, “three-fourths are from non-Christian homes and three-fourths have a hard time believing in the existence of a loving God. Who can blame them?” she asks. “They’ve never experienced Christ’s forgiveness, never seen a prayer answered, and never witnessed the everyday miracles that come with having faith.”
Children’s ministers can encourage parents who are providing strong faith foundations by assuring them that their efforts aren’t in vain. For children with non-Christian backgrounds, minister to their parents’ needs and invite them to get involved at your church.