Helping teenagers grow closer to God may not be an easy task, but it is never impossible with these useful tips.
Adolescence is an important time of change in a person's life, as it determines how he or she will view and interact with the world around him or her. As Christians, the teenage years are also very important in developing a relationship with God. In fact, it's not always an easy journey.
According to Focus on the Family, learning how to grow closer to God is a "lifelong journey" that depends on their "personality, interests, and relationship with God." Different teenagers will find different ways to grow closer to God, depending on their values, likes, dislikes, and other facets of their personality that makes them unique.
Teens grow closer to God through their love languages, which is why it is important for parents to understand their adolescent children's love languages. There are five main love languages, namely words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts.
For teens who have quality time as their love language, they may prefer to spend some quiet time reading the Bible, praying or communing with God, or simply sitting in quiet reflection. Teens who have words of affirmation as their love language may find that reading affirming words from Scripture or from preachers or church leaders would be the thing that would help them grow closer to God.
1. Understand a Teenager's Love Language to Help Them Grow Closer to God
In any relationship, it is important to know and understand the other person's love language. This way, both parties know how to express their love for each other in a way that will be well received. To help teens grow closer to God, it is important to understand their love language, as this knowledge will "better guide them into experiencing God's love."
So how does one determine the love language of a teenager? Aside from asking them how they prefer to experience love, one can also observe how they do. A teenager who likes to hug his or her friends and family or playfully touch others during conversations most likely has physical touch as their love language. If they glow amidst praise for their accomplishments and good deeds, they are more likely to have words of affirmation as their love language, and so forth.
2. Become a Good Example for Teens to Grow Closer to God
One simple yet often overlooked way to help teens grow closer to God is by being a good example for them. Ben Crawshaw, who was raised by a preacher who wanted him to have the same values and faith as his father did, wrote in Parent Cue that regardless of a child's age, there will be a "greater chance" of children "stepping up and praying, reading their Bible, and worshiping when they see it as something [parents or adults] do (and actually enjoy!)."
Crawshaw also gave one piece of important advice: parents or adults must "be honest" with teenagers or children about their own "inconsistency" in this area, but let them know "how it's helped [in] life."
3. Observe the Types of Content Parents, Adults, and Peers Consume When Around Teenagers
Technology brings content closer to users, including teenagers. This is why it's important to observe what kind of content is being consumed when around children or teenagers. Focus on the Family's Chap Bettis warned that "there's a danger both in the amount of time and the content...how it changes interactions."
Freely consuming content also changes a teenager's worldview. As The Biblical Foundation reported, "What we consume is what we will continually think about," therefore if a person is "not thinking godly thoughts," then they cannot be "truly intimate with Christ" and grow closer to God.
4. Provide Biblical or Spiritual Resources That Make Sense to Teenagers
Crawshaw underscored the importance of providing teenagers with "a guide to acquiring faith skills in a way that makes sense to them." He admitted that as a teen, he could not sit down and read the Bible because he didn't understand it and it did not make sense to him. The same goes for many teenagers across the world today.
It was only when Crawshaw received a devotional journal at a Christian summer camp when he was "guided" in his "personal time with God." It is important to provide teenagers with the proper, age-appropriate tools and materials to help them grow closer to God, whether it's through books, journals, videos, and other content.
5. Devote Time and Prayer to Help Teens Grow Closer to God
At the foundation of every strong relationship is time. This is why it is important that teenagers devote time to grow closer to God. This time can be spent reflecting on Scripture or praying. Teenagers may opt to pray on their own, with friends, or with family. Praying with others also nurtures relationships by making it more intimate, enabling them to be vulnerable to their friends and family as they grow closer to God.
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