Here are ways to help your Messy Churches feel more all-age rather than directed just at younger children.
How to Engage Teenagers
- Where are your teenagers in your church? Where are they in the community? Look for them! Find out where your young people are. Do they attend your church services? Do they come to the youth fellowship on a Sunday night? Girls Brigade? Scouts?
- Get to know them! Maybe this is the simplest tip. Just make friends with the young people. Yes, there may be a large age gap, but they don’t bite! A simple ‘hello’ turns you from just another member of the church to someone who has made the time and effort to notice their presence in your church family.
- Invite them along! Another simple tip: just ask them to come to Messy Church. They may say yes, they may say no, they may say yes and then not turn up. Just invite them to come along!
- Remember that Messy Church is as much for teenagers as it is for anyone else. One of the key values of Messy Church is all-age. No matter how old or how young we may be, Messy Church is for everyone!
- Remember, each teenager is different. Some young people would come along to Messy Church and dive straight into the activities where others might sit back, keep quiet and not really engage with any activity whatsoever. Every young person is unique!
- Look at the activities you provide for Messy Church. Are the young people getting involved with the activities or do they look totally disengaged? Look at your activities. Are they designed for children? Popular activities for teens include Minute-to-win-it challenges, building something big and (for the brave) blowing things up!
- Ask them to be a part of your Messy Church team. Get them on board! Ask them if they would like to run an activity table and be actively involved in Messy Church. Invite them to come to team meetings and keep them in the loop of any developments in your Messy Church. They will become a valued team member!
- Take a risk with your teenagers! Give them a chance. Messy Church is a great way of allowing them to exercise their spiritual gifts in a relaxed environment. So take a risk and let them lead the celebration or ask them to think of an activity to use or ask them to be responsible for welcoming people into the church.
- Could you mentor a young person? Can you share your faith story with a teenager? Can you be a listening ear and a voice of comfort to a young person? Then maybe you can be a mentor. This doesn’t mean you have to be a highly qualified pastoral counsellor; it just means taking time to listen and talk to young people.
- Pray! Pray for your teenagers. It’s hard being a young Christian. There are all sorts of pressures and hardships that they face on a daily basis. Make sure you pray for them!
For more information, see our blog about teenagers in Messy Church.