Among churches today, aging congregations and low church attendance by younger generations have become serious issues. Last year, from mid-May to the end of August, Presence surveyed different churches in Southern California (specifically, in the San Gabriel Valley area) and Northern California. A total of 125 responses were collected. We hope that the information from the survey will help churches better serve the next generation.
The survey results showed that youth today are generally satisfied with church youth ministry. However, at the same time, most young people are reluctant to talk about their problems with others. Both church youth workers and parents think that although it is possible to build good relationships with youth, it is difficult to have in-depth conversations with them. It is not hard to imagine the loneliness that members of the younger generation face when they encounter difficulties in the process of growing up. However, seeking guidance and mentorship from adults in their life is not the first thing they would do to address these struggles. In addition, in the process of maturing, young people’s search for and struggles with faith pose an important challenge in the formation of their identity, which is commonly overlooked by parents.
Insight for Parents
In a diverse and competitive culture, parents may not be sure how to respond to the demands and pressures of society as they try to guide their children through developmental stages. As a result, parents often just follow the crowd and focus on academics and talent-building. Most of the time, their children are so busy and stressed out that they easily become isolated and unwilling to open up to others about their problems.
It is important for Christian parents to see the need for holistic life development. Parents can be an example to their children by constantly reviewing their own personal and family’s value systems; seeking growth in their own body, soul, and mind according to biblical teachings; and intentionally facilitating a home environment where family members can communicate and build deeper relationships. If parents can open up to their children and share about their own lives and faith journeys, and at the same time pray for and with their children regularly, this will definitely make a difference in their children’s growth and their relationships with them.
Insight about Church Youth Ministry
In shepherding young people, it would be wise for churches to take into consideration the feelings of isolation and the faith-related struggles the next generation faces. Besides teaching the Bible, emphasis on how faith applies to their everyday life and age-appropriate apologetic training will equip young people to discern between right and wrong and stand firm in the truth. In a society that promotes individualism and protection of one’s personal space, if youth workers can be more proactive and intentional about caring for youth, this will help remove relational barriers, build trustworthy relationships, and create deeper communication with their students. Indeed, youth workers can play a critical role in young people’s faith journeys. Since family is the foundation where teenagers grow and build up relationships, when youth ministry leaders and parents trust and work with one another in shepherding the youth, and if churches can encourage both parties to team up by integrating youth and family ministries and provide the necessary support and training to both parents and their kids, we believe it would be more productive because of synergistic efforts.
Presence is committed to providing continued support to churches and families, and to equip the younger generation of believers to stand firm and live out their faith. We hold youth faith seminars on a regular basis, provide training on improving intergenerational communication in a multicultural society, and provide platforms to help youth workers and parents interact and learn from one another. At the same time, the launch of our “Presence Life Planning Curriculum” should help families and individuals pursue holistic development and overcome life obstacles. Faith-based mentoring and the guiding of believers so that they mature in their faith have always been and will be the goal and vision of Presence.
For details about the survey report, please click here.