how to engage the youth of today

How To Engage The Youth Of Today

Thomas CostelloChurch Leadership 2 Comments

When you look around at your church, how many younger members come every week? It’s important to learn how to engage the youth of today so you have regular members in the future.

Churches often struggle to connect with kids and teens. It’s kind of like trying to be the cool parent but still not fully understanding what these younger members truly need from you.

You don’t have to give up on them. They still need guidance from church leaders and members. It’s about just learning the right ways to engage them.

In this article, we’ll cover all the problems churches have today with connecting with youth, and how your church can overcome those problems and create meaningful connections with kids and teens. Ready to learn more?

Let’s jump in.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Problems Connecting With Younger Members

Problems Connecting With Younger Members

Before we learn all the ways we can engage youth, let’s go over all the problems we face today with youth engagement. We need to know the problems before we can come up with solutions. What are kids, teenagers, and young adults actually going through? What makes it hard for them to connect with the transforming message of Christ?

Let’s learn more.


One of the main problems churches encounter is engaging youth in meaningful ways. With distractions like social media, video games, and busy schedules, getting young people interested in church activities can feel like a tough nut to crack. It’s not just hard to get a young person’s attention, it’s also difficult to keep it.

Many youths might find traditional church services dull or irrelevant to their lives. To bridge this gap, churches need to find creative ways to connect with young people on their terms.


Another challenge is encouraging youth participation in church events and initiatives. Some young individuals may feel disconnected or disinterested in church activities due to a lack of opportunities for involvement.

When youths don’t feel like they have a voice or role within the church community, they’re less likely to engage actively. It’s crucial for churches to create avenues for young people to contribute, whether through music, leadership roles, or community service projects.

Youth Programs

Lastly, the effectiveness of youth programs can be hindered by various factors. Churches may struggle to develop programs that resonate with the interests and needs of young people. Outdated approaches or content that feels out of touch can turn youths away rather than draw them in.

Additionally, limited resources or volunteers dedicated to youth ministry can limit the scope and impact of programs. To address this, churches must invest time and effort into understanding the unique preferences and challenges of today’s youth and tailor their programs accordingly.

Most churches don’t see youth as a ministry important enough to focus on, so it’s never able to get off the ground. Churches invest so much money, time, and volunteers into a Sunday service for polite and respectful adults, how much more should they be investing into services for troubled and distractable young people who desperately need the love of God? This is the next generation of Christians, the future leaders of our world. Surely they are worth investing in.

Connecting with youth in the church requires proactive efforts and a willingness to adapt. By focusing on engaging youth, promoting active participation, and developing relevant youth programs, churches can overcome these challenges and foster a vibrant and inclusive community for young people. It’s not about changing the message of the church but finding innovative ways to deliver it that resonate with the younger generation. With dedication and creativity, churches can create meaningful connections with youth that endure beyond Sunday services.

Top 5 Ways to Engage Youth

Top 5 Ways to Engage Youth

Wow, that’s a lot of barriers that are holding our youth back from encountering the love of God. So what can we do? How do we engage youth and increase youth involvement? How do we improve our youth culture in church?

It’s important to know that the youth are people, not customers, but it can be helpful to look at this problem from a business perspective for a moment. Think of youth ministry as a specialized youth marketing agency. What are innovative strategies you can use to drive business growth and reach your target audience?

What do customers like? They like feeling like you see their problems and want to help them. They like being involved in something exciting. They like feeling like you are approaching them with honesty and with their best intentions in mind instead of being lied to or manipulated by you. They won’t invest in something they don’t find meaningful to their lives.

Does that make sense? We want to be clear: youth are not customers and church is not a business. We just wanted to use that example to help frame a mindset that could be useful. Now let’s jump into our top 5 ways to engage youth in our churches.

1. Be Authentic

One of the biggest problems pastors and adult members have when trying to engage the youth of today is trying to make church cool. It’s no big surprise that church isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, up to half of kids and teens that are part of youth groups growing up don’t stick with their faith as they move on to college.

Your younger members do enjoy a more upbeat worship style, but the focus still needs to be on God and the reasons why a Christian lifestyle is important. Most importantly, it needs to feel like a real conversation with the youth of today instead of just trying to sound like you’re one of them.

Young people are really good at detecting hypocrisy and fakeness, and it immediately turns them off. Once a leader has shown themselves to be inauthentic or a hypocrite, it takes a long time for them to earn the youth’s respect back. You and your church need to be authentic; don’t try to put on an act and be something you’re not.

2. Focus On Engaging Storytelling

God’s word isn’t always the easiest to understand. Plus, as it’s written, it doesn’t exactly connect with the youth of today. One thing that does engage them is storytelling. In a world where everyone is constantly sharing their stories on social media, younger members relate more to that method of teaching.

When trying to get a point across, use a storytelling approach and don’t forget to involve them in the process as much as possible. Pictures, examples, or skits are great ways to make your message clear to kids in your youth ministry who may never have even heard of the Bible before.

3. Invest Time In Them

Outside of youth groups, many younger members don’t feel noticed. They may feel like they’re just supposed to blend in, which goes against everything they know. In fact, feeling disconnected from church members is one of the top reasons teens leave the church.

It’s important for church leaders and adult church members to make time to talk to them, answer questions, listen to their ideas and more. The easiest way to engage the youth of today is to make them feel like a valued part of the church family.

4. Give Them A Chance To Get Involved

Give Them A Chance To Get Involved

As with every generation, the youth of today get antsy when they just have to sit and listen. They don’t feel like there’s any point in them being there. Give them the opportunity to help make a difference in their community and in the church.

Let older teens lead volunteer projects with younger members. Listen to their concerns and try to get involved in areas that matter to them. This gives them a chance to practice what they’ve been taught, which provides a stronger connection to their faith. If your youth group nights have a worship element, build a team of youth musicians to lead it. Have some students share the message every once and awhile, or maybe their testimonies. If we don’t give them the opportunity to step into something bigger and better, they won’t just do it on their own.

5. Offer Chances For Them To Talk Freely

No one likes feeling judged and younger members are more sensitive to judgment than your adult members. Engage the youth of today by offering them a place to talk freely. When they’re facing difficult choices in their lives, discuss it with them instead of just telling them what to do. Make sure you talk with them, not just to them.

It’s a good idea to make time during youth group to talk freely with each other. This ensures your young members don’t feel alone and they’ll actually come to youth leaders when they do have a problem. This helps build the sense of community and family that young members want as they transition into adults.

Also, let them speak their mind about your youth ministry. What’s working? What’s not? Ask for real feedback on how you can improve. Let them in every once and awhile on the decision making process of what you may do during youth group some nights. This could lead to vibrant growth in things like their relationships with God, their leadership skills, their connections with each other, and more!

6. Get Involved On Their Level

Finally, it’s important to remember that to engage the youth of today, you have to get involved on their level. Today’s youth are digital natives. Most of them have had smartphones in their hands since elementary school. On the other hand, many of your adult members are still trying to figure out theirs.

If your church seems outdated, it’s not going to be very engaging. Instead, get your younger members together to help provide tips or even manage social media and your website. Text them to remind them of upcoming events, post messages related to current events to social media, add in some fun Christian humor for them share and even create an online message board for them to interact online.

Ready to engage the youth of today? Start with a website that’s filled with great content for them to interact with and share.

Engaging Youth in Church

Engaging Youth in Church

In the end, bridging the gap between the church and youth takes patience, understanding, and flexibility. By listening to the needs and interests of young people, churches can create welcoming environments where youths feel valued and engaged. It’s about building relationships and showing that the church cares about their concerns and aspirations.

With genuine efforts and a willingness to adapt, churches can overcome the challenges of connecting with youth and create meaningful connections that last a lifetime. Together, we can ensure that young people feel at home in the church and continue to grow in their faith journey.

We pray over your youth ministries! God bless!

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