I hate Charlie Brown. Whenever his specials come on, I sit in amazement that anyone would watch something so slow moving and boring. My favorite part of hating Charlie Brown is hating the way you can never understand what the teacher says to him. All you get is “Whah, whah, whah, whah, whah, whah.”
As a youth pastor, I also hate Charlie Brown because his shows hit so close to home. I often wonder if my glassy-eyed youth hear the same “whah, whah, whah” when ever I hang out with them or when I teach in a large group setting. Connecting with teenagers can be both difficult and intimidating. Here are a few suggestions I use to help translate the “whah” in connecting with teenagers.
1. Be a regular Joe, not a Superhero
Because of the world in which we live, we may think that we need to be perfect role models for teenagers, but the truth is we know that we are not. Teens are hungry for adults who will admit when they are hurting, who sometimes have doubts about God and the Scriptures, and who sometimes make big mistakes. While we can’t always offer them the perfect life, we can offer the example of a passionate heart for God. It is important that teenagers understand that we are not “experts” on God-we are on the same journey they are on, just a little further along.
2.Tell your stories.
If you have ever sat with a group of teenagers for very long, they spend the whole time telling stories or stories about events at school or home. As you develop a relationship with a teenager, tell the stories of your life. Stories of how you fell in love, how you got your first car, how God came through for you will connect with teenagers far more that spiked hair and overpriced t-shirts ever will.
3.Show how Jesus makes a difference.
For most teenagers, the Bible is a mysterious book that is difficult to understand, and often doesn’t seem to relate to everyday living. When we invite teenagers into our lives, we have the unique opportunity of helping faith and the Bible come alive for them. As they watch us make choices based on Biblical principles, faithfully love our spouse, and raise our children in a Christ-centered home, they will begin to see the value in living a life committed to honoring God.
By the way, my favorite Charlie Brown scene is when Lucy pulls the football away right before Charlie kicks it. Lucy is my hero!!
Mark Williams is the Lead Youth Pastor at Community Church, an interdenominational church near Nashville. An avid sports fan, Mark loves all things Tampa Bay. He is married to the love of his life and is the father of 6(that’s right, I am the man) amazing children.