Many young people leave the church between age 15 and 30, according to the Barna Group, a research organization studying the spiritual and faith practices in the United States. One way to engage tweens and teens and help them stay anchored in the church is to involve them in interesting, informative and enjoyable Sunday school activities. Topics should include those teens express the greatest interest about.
Core Christian Beliefs
Approximately 42 percent of teens want to know more about what Christianity believes, according to an October 2007 Barna report, and more than 25 percent looked for information online. Sunday school lessons for preteens and teens can look at the individual components of what Christians believe, such as the truth of the Bible, the historical accuracy of Jesus’ life and resurrection, Christian rituals such as baptism and communion and how faith and science can exist cooperatively. Teens can compare what Christianity believes with the beliefs of other world religions. A Sunday school teacher could invite representatives of other faiths into a teen Sunday school to answer questions teen have about other religions.
Christianity and Everyday Life
Many young Christians are not sure how Christianity applies to everyday life, such as how their beliefs apply to career, college and technology. Tweens and teens can discuss and debate ways to share their faith with peers, how to reconcile faith with science and technology and ways that faith can make a positive difference in the world today. Sunday school classes can take on service projects such as raising funds to purchase livestock for a third world community or dig clean water wells and incorporate sanitation into those communities. They can work with organizations such as Heifer International, Water.org and The Water Project. During the summer or long holidays, the youth could take a trip to Heifer International and experience what life is like in third world countries.
Forty-five percent of teens say that experiencing God is very important to them, according to Barna’s October 2007 report “What Teenagers Look for in a Church.” Teens and tweens can explore various ways to connect with God in Sunday school, such as praise and worship music, meditation, reading the Bible, sharing faith experiences and liturgical dance. The youth can put together a multi-media worship experience they can share with other youth via social media and with adults in the church. They can create original music, messages and religious art to express how they see God and how God affects their lives.
Teens and tweens can explore faith through games in Sunday school. Teachers in the youth Sunday school department can organize Bible trivia and Bible charades competitions, scenarios where teens must decide how to respond ethically, and Bible scrambles where teens must unscramble a Bible verse from a pile of paper strips that contain single words and the Bible reference. You can have a single trophy or a first-place ribbon that you can pass from team to team that acknowledging the winners on any given Sunday.