Teenagers often get a bad reputation. There are stereotypes telling us that young people are entitled, lazy, self-absorbed, and reckless. While adolescence can be a turbulent time, there are many teenagers making the most of these years, choosing to pursue excellence and growth academically, socially, emotionally, and even spiritually. There are many incredible young people contributing to our churches and making a positive difference in communities around the world!
At Saint Luke, we have recently added one of these great young people, Anna Donohue, as a Youth Councilor. We look forward to her sharing her perspective, ideas and insight with our Council, but Anna was also willing to share with all of us what it’s like being a teenager in the local church.
Some teenagers and parents might wonder to themselves if there is a place for today’s adolescent in the local church. Anna answers that question with not one, but three resounding YES’s. Here is why she has decided to be a part of the local church during her teenage years…
3 Reasons Why I Go To Church…
I go to church because I want to be a part of something bigger than myself
I’ve always seen my local church first and foremost, as a community. No matter what else is happening in my life, I always know that my church will be there on Sunday morning, with all it's smiling faces, coffee, and doughnut holes. I was baptized here, communed here, and confirmed here. I feel a great connection to everything and everyone at my church, Saint Luke.
I go to church because friendships deepen there
Traveling to Houston and Kentucky with my church youth group this past summer, I was able to connect with a lot of people that I normally did not interact with. Not only did I meet people from all over the country at these events, but I also got to get closer to people within my own confirmation group. I had sat in confirmation class with many of these same students, but I really got to know them on those two trips. I am happy to say that it has improved the youth group and our relationships as a whole. Spending time outside of the Sunday school hour was really beneficial to the strength of the students in that age group. Now we are more than just classmates, we are friends.
I am a part of a church because I want to make a difference in the world
What has always been my attraction to my church has been its strong action in making a difference in the community. I have been lucky enough to travel with the ASP work trip for the past two years, making homes warmer, safer, and drier. This is always the most rewarding part of my summer. It's not very often you get to see your actions making a difference right before your eyes. Teenagers and children in general are known for being restless and hard to handle, but I think putting young people to work, whether it be sending them on a work trip like ASP, packaging meals, or making cards to send to students at Silver Springs Martin Luther School, really helps grow their faith and compassion for others. They don’t just hear the change they are making. They see it, and that has always been my reason for keeping my church, Saint Luke, in my life at the level it is.
Thinking of Going to Church?
1. What’s your advice for the teen who has never been to church or who is contemplating visiting a local church?
It isn’t as scary as it might seem. Everyone is really friendly and welcoming. They don’t expect you to walk in with the Bible memorized, and there isn’t any pressure for you to do something you don’t want to do. Whether or not you are at church for the first time or you are returning after a while, the members will most likely just be happy to see you.
2. What’s your advice for the parent of a teen who wonders if the church has anything to offer for today’s teenager?
If your teenager is interested in going to church, research some churches in your area with your teen to figure out what best suits your family. Every church is different, so visit some churches in your area and help your teen and/or your family make the right decision for you.
God of vibrant life, we praise you for teenagers. For their tenacity, creativity, and boldness. For their humor, energy, and courage. Give them passion and purpose, that they may be a generation that lives and loves fully for You. Amen.
Anna is currently a Junior at West Chester East High School. She is involved in many activities at Saint Luke, including the Spark Student Ministries Band, Rejoicing Spirits, Hand Bell Choir, Small Group, and the Youth Evening Service.