Developing Godly Character in your 21st Century Teen
[Editor's Note: This is part 2 in a two-part series on Teen Ministry. Click here to read part 1.]
Sometimes it may seem impossible to develop consistently godly teenagers in this increasingly immoral age. Thankfully, the Bible has given Christians a blueprint for developing godly character in any age group. Working with teenagers is in many respects no different from any other area of ministry.
- Teens are most influenced by their families. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The single greatest influence in the life of a child is his parents. Godly children are the result of godly parenting, and it is absolutely incumbent upon the spiritually discerning parent to do what is necessary for the spiritual growth of his family. As Jesus pointed out, there is no discipleship without sacrifice, and godly children are the result of spiritually sacrificial parents.
- Teens are molded by other spiritual influences in their lives. When I was a teenager, I had the privilege of being mentored by a number of godly men in my home church. These men not only took an interest in me, but also in numerous other young people in our church.
They were not youth pastors, or even in the ministry. They were simply godly laymen who had a heart to develop godly young people in the church. When the members of a church delegate spiritual responsibility to other people, rather than taking it upon themselves, that ministry is doomed to failure. I was greatly benefitted by countless hours of spiritual conversation with older men who had been through some spiritual battles and were eager to share with me the lessons they had learned.
- Godly teens develop godly character traits early on. In my experience with teens I have found that they are whimsical creatures. Like the wind, their emotions blow hither and thither, and teens are subject to their own emotional whims. Teenagers need to learn to act based on what they know to be true and right based on Bible application, rather than what feels good, comfortable, or accommodating. While it may be easy and fun to lie on the couch and watch a movie or play video games, that is often the wrong thing to do. The tide of the flesh pulls us down rather than raising us up.
- Teens need a spiritually nurturing environment. The purpose of teen ministry in your local Lakewood church is to provide an atmosphere for teens that is safe, fun, and godly. Teens need a place to go where they know that they will be loved and taught the truth. They do not need to be affirmed in a self-centered, humanistic approach to life. Rather, they need to be taught to love God and do right. They need an environment where they may explore a biblical decision-making paradigm, and be affirmed in that process. They need to be encouraged to think and do right.
One of my great joys in life is hearing from my teen friends who have decided to live wholly for God. I praise the Lord that there are many both here in my Denver church and around the world! A godly teen soon becomes a godly adult and ultimately, a great and useful tool in the hand of the Master.