American teenagers are amusing themselves to death. They regularly avoid “depthy” things in favor of mindless media consumption (just like the adults in their life). In fairness, teenagers—particularly high schoolers—are under more pressure now than in any other time in recent history. So it’s understandable that they want time to unplug from the stresses of life and escape to the world of entertainment consumption.
Unfortunately, the pursuit of entertainment also motivates the way they approach their spiritual life. Church growth experts and voices from the missional church have argued for years that consumerism in the church leads to ineffective disciple-making, marked by a “This better be good” attitude.
A related by-product of this consumer attitude toward church programming is a similar attitude toward Jesus. Many of them confess, simply, that they’re getting “bored” with Jesus. They’re looking for the next spiritual high: summer camps, mission experiences, weekend retreats, and so on. Of course, these “mountaintop” environments have tremendous power to draw kids to Jesus. But the everyday mundane moments have just as much potential for relational depth.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our teenagers is the capacity to hear and follow the voice of the Spirit on Monday through Saturday, and in the 364 weeks of the year they aren’t at camp. Over the years, we’ve communicated the importance of spiritual disciplines in lots of ways, but the one that’s gained the most traction is a simple acronym that describes the six THINGS kids can do to make more space in their lives for Jesus.
These six THINGS were written for the Simple Truth Bible. You can find a more robust explanation for each there.
T—Time with God Daily
Set aside specific time every day to focus our uninterrupted attention on Jesus.
We need people in our lives who share our values and are willing and able to speak truth in love to us.
I—Intentionally Connecting With the Church
We need opportunities to connect with people who are younger and older in their faith than we are.
N—Notice and Serve Others
We need to pay attention to the needs of the people around us and sacrifice to meet those needs.
G—Give to God
We need to acknowledge that God is the source of all we have, and He wants us to use all we have to honor Him.
S—Share God Stories
We need to tell the stories of Jesus’ work in our lives to invite others to make space for Him to work in their lives.
Jesus didn’t give his followers a list of things to do. Giving today’s busy students a list of more things to do probably won’t be helpful either. Except for “Time with God Daily,” these six THINGS are easily incorporated into our daily schedule without taking away from the things we’re already doing. But these six THINGS aren’t magical. In fact, we can do them all and not experience any spiritual growth. We also have to recognize that these spiritual practices don’t earn us more of God’s favor. These six THINGS simply allow us to experience Jesus in our lives, as long as we pay ridiculous attention to what He says and does. Practicing these six THINGS helps us make space to hear the voice of the Spirit not just during programming and events, but in the everyday, ordinary moments of life.
We need to tell the stories of Jesus’ work in our lives to invite others to make space for Him to work in their lives.Click to tweet
 We’re borrowing that phrase from Neil Postman’s classic journalism text, Amusing Ourselves to Death. In his 1985 book, Postman argues that individuals have sacrificed their rights for consumer entertainment.
Photo Courtesy of: Aaron Burden