Home > Faith, Youth Workers > Failure, is it an Option?

Failure, is it an Option?

One of the biggest issues with allowing teens to own their faith is the probability of failure.  The more we empower teens to own in their lives, the greater it is that they will fail at something. Most teens conform (or are supposed to conform) to someone else’s agenda at home, school, sports, work, church and home again. It’s tricky to be ok in letting them make decisions that could be wrong. I’m not talking about drunk driving or carrying a loaded handgun… more about giving them the opportunity to fit their faith into school, sports, work, church and home life. Maybe it should be – How do we empower teens to fit school, sports, work, church and home life into their faith?

If our goal is to empower and enable teens… failure will happen. Whether it’s a conversation that goes horribly wrong with a friend, a service project that no one shows up to or leading a Bible discussion that the teen didn’t take time to prepare for, teens are going to make mistakes, just like we all do. It’s possible to make sure two of those three never happen, though. Let the adults plan everything and do all of the teaching! That way, teens can’t screw it up! But is that the most beneficial for the students in the future?
Does that play into the fact that 88% of students leave the church when they are on their own? By the way, it doesn’t matter if the students went to a private, parochial or public school. Is it possible that there’s a step missing? We teach and teach and teach (which I’m not saying is bad) and when they graduate they’re supposed to know what to do and then go and do it.

What I’m not trying to suggest is that we just drop all teaching. I wonder what would it look like to give parts of the ministry to the teens. What if they led a family devotional or prayer time or set up a service day for the family? What if they led, with adult mentors, smaller groups of teens in living out their faith? These are just ideas and thoughts but I think they’re at least worth thinking about because to truly let this happen means having a willingness to give teens space to succeed… and fail.

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Categories: Faith, Youth Workers
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