Adults often look to their church families for inclusion, love and growth, but what do their teens get from their Sunday experiences? Sometimes leadership members accidentally leave young people out, preventing them from the spiritual growth they would otherwise enjoy from being actively involved.
This guide explains how your church can appeal to a younger demographic in 10 easy steps.
1. Give Them Free Food
Everyone enjoys free stuff, especially when that gift is delicious. Any church leadership team looking to start or improve their youth group should include a free dinner with each meeting.
Fresh pizza, spaghetti and meatballs or another crowd-pleasing recipe will make every young person feel happier and more at home in the church.
2. Tailor Messages to Younger Audiences
Consider what people hear when they sit down for Sunday sermons. The topics likely center around adult themes like marriage or raising families. Teens don’t care about those same things, so tailor youth group or sermon topics to what matters most to them.
They’ll care more about coming to church when they learn how to handle troubled friendships, self-doubt and other situations where religious convictions can guide them in turbulent times.
3. Schedule Free Time
Young people have so many commitments to juggle. They’re in school for most of the day, then they have to divide their free time between homework, jobs, family and friends.
They’ll appreciate free time before or after youth group to hang out with their friends. It gives them space to be themselves and take a breath from their busy lives outside the church.
4. Make a Game Room
Any church building with an extra room could turn it into a game room. Video game consoles and tabletop games are great ways to start conversations and help teens make friends. Just plan the renovation before starting. Every detail matters.
The average game table is three to five feet long, so plan for that kind of space if you’ll invest in ping pong or air hockey tables. You’ll need extra electrical outlets for multiple consoles and controls for multiplayer games.
5. Focus on Athletics
It’s challenging for young people to feel welcomed in their church when their church doesn’t reach beyond the parking lot. Many teenagers are involved in athletics, so reach them through their favorite hobbies. Leadership teams can sponsor local high school teams and offer the church grounds for practices.
Even if church members let their teenagers meet to train for a marathon with their friends from youth group, the young people will feel more seen and appreciated. Take a survey of which sports your church’s teens play to pick the most relevant sports to their lives.
6. Establish an Online Presence
Given that 84% of U.S. teens use Instagram, social media is an easy way for your church to appeal to a younger demographic. Post daily or weekly encouragement along with recommended scripture readings. The teens who want to follow the church’s accounts will get more from their involvement and feel more connected.
7. Upgrade Your Technology
Young people are very familiar with technology, so they have little patience for outdated machines, software or videos. Every leadership team should ensure that their technology is up-to-date. Grainy pictures or slow software will only make teenagers take the church less seriously.
8. Find Community Service Opportunities
Young people might pick free pizza over working at food banks, but providing community service opportunities is crucial for reaching teenagers. Serving others allows them to have more time with their friends and builds their resumes for college applications.
Look for local roles that are right for their age and provide a few options so everyone can pick something they like. More time with their friends, build their resumes for college applications
9. Plan Outreach Trips
Youth leaders also help their teens give back by planning outreach trips. Traveling across the country or worldwide to serve impoverished communities puts Christian principles into action and gives young people another way to make their college applications stand out from the rest.
10. Let Everyone Get Involved
Allow teenagers in the church to enter leadership roles to take ownership of their church involvement and spiritual lives. They could become worship team members, people who serve food at dinner or put together slideshows for worship song lyrics. They’ll gain the independence and experience that young people desire without as much pressure as a part-time job.
Start Reaching a Younger Demographic
Now that you’ve read about how your church can appeal to a younger demographic, consider using these tips to make your community more welcoming to young people. Ideas like providing free food, preaching on relevant topics and even making space to play games will make the church more appealing to them than traditional Sunday services.