How do we keep our teens in church, and how do we help nurture and develop their faith?
Every two years, 75 teens aged between 14-16 from all over Australia spend a week together because they are CHOSEN.
Each teen, who has shown leadership ability in their local church, are handpicked by their pastors and church boards to be a part of this unique program. They demonstrate leadership potential through their involvement in church activities, their personal spirituality, and their teachable nature. This teen leadership convention was held earlier this year in Sydney, NSW.
Each conference sends two mentors to work closely with their teens and continue to help grow them as they go back to their local church. The teens of CHOSEN were inspired and challenged each day by a multitude of Godly professional people.
After the event, when asked how they were leading in their churches, answers came quickly via Facebook. “I did the Sabbath School lesson”, “I helped with singing”, “I was part of the drama”, “I prayed over the offering”, “Said the main prayer during church”, “I went up the front and talked about my time at CHOSEN”, “I did the PA”, “I led the Pathfinder program and helped pack up after lunch”, “I played piano for church”, “I offered to help my youth leader with the upcoming street ministry”, ” I was asked to lead a weekly teen Bible study by my intern pastor”, “started leading out in music”, ” helped with the admin tasks”, “ran the music for Pathfinders”, “we are encouraging more youth involvement in our church”… the comments kept coming.
CHOSEN participant, Taylah exclaimed, “I was able to speak at church about all the things I learnt at CHOSEN. Also getting the church excited about the youth group we are starting up soon. Keep it up CHOSEN youth, because we are not just the future of the church we are the present”.
Stories of growth from CHOSEN
It’s a fact, programs like these that nurture people make a huge difference – not only weeks afterwards, but years.
Recently, three former teens from Coffs Harbour, NSW who attended CHOSEN were followed up. They continue to grow in their spiritual faith.
Kate, who is now 18 years old, went to CHOSEN in 2014 and went on to lead out in her youth group at her church. This year she went to Arise to train as a Bible worker after she was baptised (Arise runs a 15-week session that affords students a total immersion experience in ministry). She has continued to work in her local church as a Bible worker and commences language studies at University next year.
“I really loved CHOSEN and thought it was amazing. I felt really privileged that my church considered me to go! CHOSEN changed my perspective to wanting to help lead others to Christ and be a leader in church. Looking back, my spiritual journey has been small steps that have led me to this path. It’s awesome that we never stop learning. God is awesome and I’m excited by falling in love more and more with God each and every day.”
Brothers, Christopher and Daniel Petersen have both attended CHOSEN, the younger following in his big brother’s footsteps this year. Christopher preaches at his church, conducted a Bible study series at school with his friends. He has just finished Year 12 and is doing ministry at Avondale College next year. The boys’ parents were so excited when Christopher who is 14, was also chosen to attend CHOSEN this year. Recently he lead out at a youth program and his journey story continues.
Christopher says, “CHOSEN was really good. I helped me to get more direction and figure out what I wanted to be. As a result of the program I was more successful in planning and achieving goals. I used a lot of the goal making strategies to help me with my school work, in church leadership and evangelism. One of best experiences at CHOSEN was making good friends and staying in close contact with them despite our distances.”
3 Ways To Keep Teens In Your Church
Pastor of the Coffs Harbour and Coffs Coast Adventist Churches Abel Iorgulescu says, “CHOSEN is a catalyst for change and life-changing experiences. At CHOSEN, teens learn to focus time with God each morning”. When asked about what his church members are doing to support these teens after CHOSEN, Abel highlights three key points:
Our church prays for our kids constantly. If parents and families know the purpose of CHOSEN, they also pray for the kids who go. Our church members see the different it makes in teens’ lives and so now parents feel like their children are missing out and want their kids to go too!
Teens need to make mistakes, and need to be guided and led. Before Daniel preached, we helped him with his sermon writing. Our church members want to see the young people involved and assist them where possible. The teens shine under this sort of encouragement.
As teens grow spiritually, as part of their growth, service is the next step. By taking up the offering, saying a prayer, and leading the song service they can do this well. In some of the cases in our church, this has developed into leading a small group and preaching the main service. Through small acts of service, big things grow.
“These teens are amazing” says organiser of CHOSEN and Youth Director for the Adventist Church in Australia, Pr Jeff Parker. “The church’s future is in safe hands as these teens continue to lead in their home churches. God is already using them in amazing ways from week to week. We are so proud of them all”.
How do you nurture the children and teens in your church? What else would you do to strengthen their faith journey?