(Photo by Hannah Nelson from Pexels)
It’s no secret kids in the U.S. are leaving the Church. A Barna study published last year calls Gen Z – young people born between 1995 and 2015 – the first “post-Christian” generation.
Greg Yoder of Keys for Kids Ministries says the problem’s cause is three-fold. “Number one, the families aren’t necessarily taking the responsibility of training their kids,” he begins. “Two, I think churches aren’t necessarily engaging teenagers.
“They’re trying to entertain them, rather than [including] them in worship services and helping them understand that they have a role in the body of Christ.”
He concludes by observing, “we’re not challenging our kids to reach out with the good news of Jesus Christ.”
As part of the solution, Keys for Kids created “Unlocked” – a daily devotional for teenagers. The ministry is unveiling new content today. “It’s written by some teens, some young adults, some experts in youth ministry, that are really encouraging young people where they are today,” Yoder says.
Reaching teens: it’s necessary, but not easy
Personal devices and 24/7 connectivity provide young people with information and advice traditionally imparted by parents or significant authority figures. According to this 2015 study, 84-percent of teens turn to the Internet with questions about their health. Social media influences career pursuits, Pew Research reports.Between the ages of 12 and 18, young people generally become secretive and moody creatures. Teens “put up a wall” when parents try to hold in-depth conversations or provide decision-making advice.
In other words, teens are finding answers for themselves instead of turning to adults with their questions. This trend applies to spiritual matters, too. If parents and pastors aren’t speaking into children’s spiritual lives during this critical six-year window, who is?
“We thought there were a lot of devotions that would take kids from their ninth grade to the 12th grade years, but there really wasn’t.”
Keys for Kids began working on “Unlocked” to help fill the gap. The ministry sought to involve young people in the process. “I won’t tell you that thousands and thousands of kids participated,” Yoder admits.
“But, we had the core group of individuals that that felt the need to participate, felt that this was a huge missing piece in Christendom today. They really took ownership, and many of them even began starting their attempt at writing for Keys for Kids.”
Click here to support “Unlocked” and help Keys for Kids with “planning, recruiting writers, design, promotion, and everything else that goes with a new program.”
Engagement is key to youth ministry
Subscribers will receive their very first issue of “Unlocked” in the coming days. Yoder says 10,000 copies are being printed, and more than 5000 people have signed up so far to receive them. In fact, Yoder says they expect to run out of their first run of devotions this quarter very soon. Click here to add your name to the list.
“People are going to begin getting ‘Unlocked’ in their mailboxes in the next week to two weeks… we’re also getting ready to launch this thing called ‘Unlocked Daily Readings for Teens’ and we’re pretty excited about it.”
Keys for Kids’ teen ministry also extends beyond traditional print media. Yoder says, “‘Phase Two’ is getting the website version ready, but more importantly, getting the app ready…
“We want to build communities within this app. So, youth group communities, camping communities, Christians within their local school districts – you name it.”