The disconnect between what churches regularly teach and what young people want to talk about
Youthscape recently released a report called ‘Losing heart’ – research into church provision of youth work. As part of the research, they looked at how regularly churches teach a range of important topics. They also looked at this same set of topics and asked young people how interested they would be in discussing them.
We decided to bring these two sets of data together to see how they fared against each other. The results might surprise you.
We used blue for topics with higher percentages of youth interest and orange for higher percentages of church teaching regularity. Greys – well, these were more or less the same in popularity between the two.
Basic Christian beliefs, prayer and Bible reading were most common with over 4 in 5 churches saying these were regularly visited on the youth teaching agenda. A much lower proportion of young people said that they were interested in those topics, favouring mental health and self-esteem, sharing faith (wow, that one is encouraging), and sex and relationships. Except for sharing faith, the other topics of interest were much lower down on the church’s agenda.
So, what does this mean for youth ministry? Should we change our focus on what we teach to suit our young people? Does youth interest hold greater weight than what youth leaders want to prioritise? Perhaps some middle ground between the two to meet the needs of young people, maximise engagement but not compromise on the messages we believe they still need to hear.
We asked our own young people about the topics that matter to them. Find out what they said in our post, You asked for it: tackling the BIG questions.