Personal Faith Practices
Your teen needs personal faith practices to provide a healthy foundation for living a life dedicated to God. Model reading your Bible, praying and worship so your teen sees the importance of regular spiritual expression. Facilitate family devotions and faith activities to establish a habit in your teen’s life. Ask your teen to lead the family in prayer, read the Bible passage or lead the devotion. Encourage your teen to invite her friends over to study the Bible, play Bible learning games and share the faith.
Your teen can use his spiritual beliefs to determine his choices such as following the 10 Commandments or breaking them. Explain, “The Bible says that you should live a life of righteousness. When your friends know you are a Christian, they expect certain behaviors from you. You can provide an effective model for God by following Jesus’ example.” Study scriptures such as Romans 12:1-2, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 and Ephesians 4:17-32 with your teen and talk about various scenarios that are common to teens so your teen can apply the scripture in a practical way.
In John 12:26, Jesus says his follows should serve others as He served His father. Assist your teen to find ways to serve as an expression of her faith. She could help older adults with tasks they can longer do, assist in the worship service, help collect food for a food pantry, donate money to projects such as Heifer International or Water.org that assist developing nations with farm animals or clean water. Your teen can talk to her friends about the projects and persuade others to join her in service.
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands his followers to tell others the good news so they can become believers. Your teen can share his faith with other teens. If he says he doesn't know how, you can role-play witnessing with him. For other options, he could take a mission trip with other teens and adults to share the Gospel in song and dance or through acts of service. He can offer to teach a lesson for his Sunday school class, youth group or during a Sunday worship service. He can invite other teens home to learn about Jesus.
Relate the Bible to various forms of literature. Your teen might think that the Bible is just a set of rules they have to follow, or an ancient text filled with incomprehensible words. Point out that the Bible contains poetry, narratives, gospel and prophecy. Show your child some of the more exciting stories like David and Goliath, and Samson and Daniel in the lion's den. Show him where these various genres are located. For example, the best examples of poetry are found in Psalms and prophetic literature is located in the books of prophets in the Old Testament and the book of Revelation in the New Testament.
Explain the Bible's relevance. Teens often think that the Bible is outdated with no message for them. Show your teen specific verses that give practical advice for daily living. You can find these throughout the Bible, especially in the teachings of Jesus and the book of Proverbs. Jesus focused on the themes of love, forgiveness and helping each other. Proverbs contains specific wisdom. Chapter 1:8 says "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching."
Let him choose the Bible. There are many Bibles available today that are designed for teens. There are teen devotional and study Bibles, and they have bright colors and graphics that appeal to young people. You might also want to give your child a Bible in a modern translation that is easier to understand. The NIV (New International Version) or The Living Bible are written in everyday language.
Read the Bible yourself. Let your child see that you value the time you spend reading the Bible. Ask your teen if he would like to read with you. Maybe he will become interested in studying the scriptures for himself.
Send Bible verses to your teen. You can email or text her. Write them on a sticky note. Choose ones that relate to something she is experiencing. Being a teen, she may be enduring peer pressure to drink or experiment with drugs. Find verses that deal with temptation and send them to her for encouragement.
Explain how Bible memorization will help your teenager navigate daily life. Show her passages that deal with anxiety, managing money and getting through a difficult trial. Then reveal passages that can be used to praise and thank God when things are going well. Once your teenager sees the value in memorizing scripture, she will be more motivated to do it.
Select verses for your teen to memorize that are relevant to his life. For example, your teen will respond better to a verse such as Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you," than he would Genesis 2:18 "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Teenagers might think about obeying their parents, but they aren't worried about getting married just yet.
Challenge your teen to create a beat to recite the verse too. She could make a rap or use a familiar tune like "Mary Had a Little Lamb," Teenagers are often motivated by music, so it only makes sense to incorporate it into scripture memorization.
Give your teen a note card to write the memory verse on. The teen can easily take the note card with him and work on it during down times, such as while waiting in line or during TV commercials.
Praise your teen when she successfully recites her verses. Praise is motivating to people of all ages. You might want to go a step further and give her a small trinket to reflect a job well done.
Arrange for your teen to have an accountability partner. This is someone who will check to ensure he is learning the verse. The accountability partner might also want to memorize the same passage of Scripture so that the two could quiz each other. Parents and siblings make fine accountability partners, as do friends and fellow church members. Knowing he has to recite the verse to someone will give him the motivation he needs to get the job done.
Things You Will Need
- Note card
Use a translation of the Bible that is easy for your teenager to understand. Often times teens don't want to study or memorize Scripture because it is written in a language that hasn't been used for hundreds of years.
Discuss what it means to be encouraging to others. Young children might relate to the "atta boys" they receive when learning sports or mastering a new skill. Older kids cheer each other on during basketball tryouts, visit sick friends at home and encourage their parents when they start a new job. Read Bible passages with them that discuss encouragement, to ensure they understand what it means. Tell them it's not just a nice thing to do, but something Jesus calls on his followers to do.
Explain the project. Tell the kids you want their help in spreading encouragement to others as part of a card ministry. With their input, select a group or groups of people who they think could use some encouragement. Start with members of the congregation who are home-bound or ill, then consider nursing or veterans' home residents. Older church teens who are away at college or military personnel deployed overseas probably also would welcome encouraging notes and cards from the church's young people, too.
Help kids buy colorful cards with encouraging messages in them. An even more meaningful way to teach the importance of encouraging others is for the kids to make the cards themselves, from card stock and markers or using construction paper. Help younger children write encouraging messages in the cards such as "thinking of you" or "smile." Older kids might write longer encouraging messages, along with a relevant Bible verse or quotation. Remind them that it's important to put some thought and care into the cards. Help the children correctly address and mail the cards. In the case of a nursing home or similar facility, arrange for the kids to deliver the cards in person.
Start a "big card" ministry with the church kids. Create big cards to deliver to ailing or grieving church members. Fold pieces of poster paper in half, have the kids decorate the front and write messages inside, then set them out during church fellowship time, along with some markers, for church members to add their own notes and names. The kids can then deliver these in person to the addressees to brighten their day and remind them that their church family is thinking of them.
Get permission from the appropriate authorities before taking children on a visit to a nursing home or other facility.
Bible reading is an important component to any Bible class, but if the passage doesn’t seem relevant to your teen, it won’t have much effect on her life. The passage read should have a practical application to her life. For example in Daniel 3, three Hebrew young men must either bow to a golden statue of the king or be burned alive in a furnace. Your daughter’s class could discuss living for God and following his law when it isn’t popular, trusting God when laws are unjust and witnessing through action. If the class reads Matthew 6:7-15, they could discuss how to pray, why forgiveness is important and what the Lord’s Prayer means.
Prayer is a big component of teen spirituality, according to the Barna Survey. Your daughter’s Bible class could share prayer concerns and praise reports and promise to pray for one another through the week. Each girl can ask someone in the class to be her special prayer partner, sharing prayer needs through the week, such as an important test, a relationship problem or an illness. The girls can share answers to prayer each week to encourage their faith and see how prayer works.
The teen girls can include a song during the Bible class to prepare the girls’ hearts for study and to encourage a spirit of worship and reverence. A praise and worship or other contemporary Christian song is effective for this purpose and could be more meaningful to teens than many hymns found in church hymnbooks. A teen who plays an instrument or who can sing well can lead the music.
Faith in Action
The Barna survey reports that many teens are reluctant to share their faith. The class could include a discussion on how to share the lesson with other teens or how to share personal testimony one-on-one with other teens. Teens could also discuss how to put their faith in action through service, such as helping out in the children’s Sunday school department, volunteering to cook a meal and deliver it to church home bound members or raising money for a children’s shelter or to build water wells for impoverished communities across the globe through Water.org or Ryan’s Wells.
Medals or Crosses
Catholic teens might appreciate a cross or medal to wear. This is an especially good choice for sacraments such as confirmation, which you might want a special gift for. If your teen doesn't wear jewelry, a medal to hang in his car can also be a nice idea.
Rosary jewelry doesn't have to be just for the older crowd. Many trendy options are available for teens. From plastic or stretchy rubber rings that symbolize the rosary and have nubs to make a decade for your favorite teen to pray with to cool cord or stretchy rosary bracelets, several options are available for rosary jewelry that look good and are a sign of devotion in your teen.
Embossed or Engraved Bible
Even if your teen already has a Bible, a new Bible for a special occasion can be a good choice. You can choose a new Bible that's engraved or embossed with your teen's name and the date. If you do that, consider getting a version of the Bible that's written in contemporary language or one that's geared specifically to Catholic young people. Another option is to hand down a family Bible to your teen as a sign that she's now mature enough to take on a family heirloom.
Several prayer books and devotionals are made for teens that use brightly colored covers and language and circumstance that today's teens can understand and relate to. This can be an appreciated, inexpensive present for a teenager.
Cell Phone Covers
Many teens are attached to their cell phones, and a cover is always a practical idea. A variety of cell phone covers have religious themes. Whether you want to go simple, such as a cover with a simple cross on it, or go a little fancier by getting a cell phone cover that has a painting of a famous religious scene, you can have such a case custom-made for a teen.
Cool T-shirts and hoodies are available bearing Christian messages. Whether it's a trendy picture or a catchy slogan, a gift for a Catholic teen doesn't have to be stodgy or boring.
Ask your teen, “How did you become a believer?” She might say that you, a friend or a Sunday school teacher told her about her faith. Then ask her, “Whom could you tell about your faith?” Help her make a list of several friends with whom she might want to discuss her faith or encourage them to follow her faith by observing her actions. You could offer to host a dinner or party for her friends where she has an opportunity to share her faith.
Ask your teen, “How is your life different from those who don’t share your faith?” He could list some faith practices, such as prayer, reading sacred texts, attending faith services at your local house of worship, or serving others at home. Talk about other service options with which your teen could get involved, such as contributing money he earns from doing small jobs to a charity that helps those in need. He could also do yard work free of charge for a neighbor who can’t do the job herself.
Encourage your teen to join a local service project, volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or volunteer to tutor young kids who need academic assistance. You will probably have to sign permission forms for your teen to participate, but you can take it one step further and volunteer with your teen. Your involvement sets a good example and ensures that your teen stays safe while volunteering.
Suggest that your teen organize her friends to take on a project that demonstrates her faith, such as collecting cans of food for a food bank, or collecting blankets to give to a ministry that works with the homeless. Ask your teen, “Who do you think would be happy to work with you on the project?” Make a list of friends and invite them over to talk about the project. You can talk to each teen’s parents to ensure they give their permission and know what's involved.
Things You Will Need