If your teenage daughter opens up in what could be a rare and beautiful moment between you to say she has questions or is interested in growing a deeper relationship with God, would you be prepared? The question of how to get closer to God as a teenager is one of the most important questions your teen could ever ask you.
Whether you have a relationship with God yourself or not, each one of us as human beings will come to the moment when we contemplate the creator of the universe and whether God is interested, really interested, in each of us individually.
Some people come to faith in a divine higher power as young children, some take much much longer and can be well into their adulthood before a proper introduction is established, if at all.
I would bet, though, that most teenagers begin to wonder in earnest as they contemplate the world they are seeing, and as their maturity grows, what role God is playing in their lives. Teenagers are analyzing for themselves if there is a higher power, and what about this idea of a creator?
As part of their education beginning in middle school, young teens are introduced to the many variations of ways that humans interact with and practice their faith in God. So the idea that your teenager would be interested in knowing more and exploring that relationship is not so far fetched.
Depending on your family’s faith culture and practices, you may have specific preferences in how your teenager chooses to learn about God.
However, if all this is new to you, and you are not part of a larger family of faith, I am happy to share what our family did to help our child learn how to get closer to God as a teenager when those years finally arrived.
I am a Christian and will write from this lens, but the principles probably apply in some shape or form for other faith practices as well, especially through the teen years.
How to teach your Teenager about God
Start where you are
If you already have a church family make it a regular practice to worship together. Bring your children when they are young to your church school, aka Sunday school, so that they can become familiar with the stories of God from the Bible.
Knowing the vocabulary and traditions that come with your faith helps grow confidence. And we all know how important that confidence can be to help young people decrease their sense of anxiety enough to become comfortable in a space.
If they are teenagers, the first time they set foot on the journey to learn about God, no worries. They will have the benefit of higher intelligence and maturity in their searching and inquiries. The experience will be meaningful to them, and they will learn quickly.
But my all means, if your teenager is curious and interested in knowing more, encourage them to start. There is something marvelous and reassuring about the inner peace that comes from knowing your Creator first hand.
What if they want to go to a friend’s church?
If they came to this curiosity about God through conversations with a friend, decide if you would allow your child to go to church with her friend. You may want to attend yourself to be sure it is a good fit for your teenager, and everything is as it should be.
If you feel comfortable there, you like the message and the environment, and trust the family of her friend, you may consider allowing your teen to go to church with her friend. There is no doubt that connection, trust, and fellowship are compelling factors for the faith journey. Attending church with friends can help to solidify the experience.
This is how many of us came to our faith and relationship with God.
Get her a bible of her own
If she has a children’s Bible or none at all, now is the time to get your teenager an adult Bible of her own. For simplicity of learning be sure that the Bible is in the version of the church she will be attending.
Ask the pastor or the youth leaders what version they use most. It can be confusing to read-along with passages from a different version of the Bible.
What if I am getting mixed messages from my teen? They seem interested, but not always up for it.
Do not be discouraged if your teenager does not show interest in learning right away. Or if they don’t seem overly enthusiastic.
Remember that we don’t always feel up to participating in certain events, even if we are interested in them. Mood as a teenager is a large consideration. Be careful not to make them feel guilty about whatever they are feeling, or punish them for not doing “church” things. That goes nowhere fast!
Remember, seeds are being planted, and the journey is different for each one of us. The sooner they know God and have a personal relationship with him, the more equipped they will be to endure the suffering of life.
Peace and understanding will come much faster for them in difficult times than it will be for their friends who don’t have a personal relationship with their Heavenly Father. So let the journey be their own and be patient.
Supporting your teen’s spiritual life can mean being flexible.
For some teenagers who are working through social anxiety, consider exploring alternate ways to do church. Perhaps find a service with fewer people if crowds make them nervous. Or a large service, so your teen can blend in better, or virtual church service available online.
Figure out what would work best for your teenager.
Maybe your teen would feel more comfortable sitting with a friend at church or wants to invite a friend to come along. That’s great too.
This spring, we had no choice but to experience virtual church, and that was better than nothing. But I would recommend, when possible, that your teens attend in-person church services every once in a while until they are regularly comfortable. There is an important reason for this.
Seeing other adults, teens, and kids in worship has a powerful effect.
There is nothing like being surrounded in fellowship by other people seeking the same peace, love, grace, and understanding. Singing, praying, and learning together, both young and old, can be a unifying and comforting experience.
Allow your teens to be exposed to that sense of community.
Find opportunities for teens to stay engaged with God as they grow
The problem many teens face as they grow out of traditional Sunday school classes is that they become disconnected from the other young people, also walking the journey.
I asked my daughter what factors have kept her faith solid and her interest in the church high over the years. She responded that remaining engaged has been the single most important factor in how she stays interested in understanding God and walking with him as a teenager.
How to get closer to God as a Teenager – Youth Group
Youth group is essentially a club organized by youth leadership of the church for the teens (middle and high school age) of the church.
At Youth Group, a sample schedule might be game time, snack time, bible study, open discussion, prayer requests, and goodbyes.
I served as a youth leader at my church while my kids were little, and it was an incredible privilege for me to witness the transforming power of the bonds of fellowship and camaraderie those kids experienced. Each of those kids grew to be wonderful men and women of faith.
How to get closer to God as a Teenager – Teen Bible Study Classes
Your church may have bible study classes just for teenagers. Either as Sunday School class for the older teens or on a separate night of the week. At the least, most churches have Sunday School for teens up to 8th grade.
Bible study at this age provides a time to ask all the deep questions and probe.
How to get closer to God as a Teenager – Confirmation Class
Many churches have a Confirmation Class whose purpose it is to go through all the tenets of the faith with each teenage student (usually high school age) and ensure they understand them all.
At the end of the course, each student is offered the opportunity if they wish, to confirm their faith in God, and as in the case of our church, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
When done well, Confirmation Class can be the difference-maker for teenagers coming to understand and choose a relationship with God. And by done well, I mean when church leadership executes an informative class that is open for discussion and questions.
Confirmation Class can be one of the most pivotal experiences of young Christians for how to get closer to God as a teenager, the one activity that seals their faith for a lifetime.
How to get closer to God as a Teenager – Youth Retreats
Youth retreats are an excellent way to get closer to God as a teenager for those kids that have a smaller youth group in their home church. Youth Retreats provide an event where many youth groups come together in a shared space to worship, pray, and learn more about how to approach their journey with God.
It is profoundly helpful and reassuring to see first hand other young Christian teenagers worshipping and accepting Jesus Christ as their savior.
Retreats can be a deeply spiritual and meaningful event in the life of a young Christian teen seeking to know God. Retreats often provide a bonding experience and a safe space to affirm along with dozens if not hundreds of other teenagers, their love for God. Teens learn to affirm the power of Christian fellowship, love, and diversity.
If you are seeking a youth retreat in your area, look to the Christian camps in your area and see when they plan to host their next event or ask the youth leadership when they plan to go on their next retreat.
How to get closer to God as a Teenager – Concerts
Concerts featuring bands who play the music that sings the story of your faith can be a spiritually bonding event. Seeing people of all ages, communities, and churches come together to worship publicly is one of the coolest affirmations a young person gets as they learn how to grow closer to God as a teenager.
We have been to many worship concerts as a family and each was a beautiful memory made. An imprint on our hearts and life experiences. If you are looking for a resource to find concerts in your area, do a search for “worship concerts near me,” and a number of festivals and concert dates will populate in your search engine.
So bottom line, give your teenagers opportunities to STAY ENGAGED with other teens and adults by going to events and activities on a regular basis that affirm and strengthen their walk with God.
How to Serve God as a Teenager
Another way to learn how to get closer to God as a teenager is to combine a teenagers’ willingness to fight for a cause and volunteer to serve an area of need.
Volunteer and Service – Growing a servant heart for His people
There are many causes that young Christians can choose to volunteer their energy and time in service to God. Many youth groups work in partnership with organizations in need to serve and lend a helping hand.
Whether it is at the local level as in the neighborhood or elsewhere in the state, there is no shortage of non-profit groups who are doing good in the community looking that are for a helping hand.
How to get closer to God as a Teenager – Mission Trips
Mission trips are a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the work of the Lord. Most mission trips are volunteer trips that last several days. Teens can serve on a local, national, or international mission trip, depending on the partnership you choose and the need.
Our family was blessed with the opportunity to serve on an international mission trip to Haiti through the Praying Pelican Missions, and I promise you it was OUR lives that were impacted and changed the most as a result of that experience. It was a beautiful and moving adventure to serve alongside other Christians of Haiti and America towards a unified purpose.
It was a trip and an experience we will never forget.
Ask your teenager to investigate where she could contribute her time, talents, and energies towards volunteer efforts today.
If something happens where your child no longer feels comfortable at church, make a change immediately.
I have a friend who once shared a story about her child, who was growing increasingly uncomfortable at their church. The child had grown up in the church, so the issue wasn’t about her being shy. The separation became a chasm until the child as a teenager no longer wanted to attend church and had disconnected entirely from the church experience. The family never could understand why.
Years later, the child finally shared that an uncomfortable situation had occurred with another slightly older student in the church, and she felt anxiety and trauma-related triggers when she would see that family in the church or the community.
My friend battled whether to leave their family’s lifelong church to serve their daughter’s growing discomfort of church-related events and, as such, witnessing her strained relationship with God.
After grappling with it for many months, the family finally moved to a new congregation a few towns over to give her family and especially her teen a fresh start—a new opportunity for her to learn how to get closer to God as a teenager who loves Him but has lost her connection.
The bottom line is your personal connection to a particular church family should never trump your obligation and devotion to your child’s well-being. If belonging to a certain church means your child is losing her connection and faith in God or godly people, that is an enormous cost.
Don’t worry. You will all develop new connections, so make a change right away. Quietly if you need to out of respect for your children, but make the change and show them that their walk with God is the number one priority, and nothing should distract from that.
How to Get Closer to your Teenager – Pray with your Teen
It’s okay for your teens to experience a season of doubt in God. Especially when things go wrong, very wrong, in the world. Explain and walk alongside them when they have these moments. You may grieve these phases of your teen’s journey. But do not lose hope. Teenagers are full of hormones, mixed emotions, immaturity, and can speak things they know will discourage us, so we don’t push them.
Be patient and trust.
Meanwhile, pray for and with your teen, let them know that you are petitioning on behalf of their lives and their journey towards God.
Love your teenagers and share the reason for your hope.
Never cease praying over your children and their spiritual journey. Encourage them. Answer their questions with patience and kindness. Share, but don’t judge. Love.
So, if your child is interested in discovering how to get closer to God as a teenager, let her.
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Chandra is the chocolate-chip loving mother of 2 teenage girls who started over again with a baby boy in her 40’s! She is the author of The Mom’s Playbook to Conquering Softball Season. She gives other moms the tools they need to prepare their daughters for real life. Her content is centered on helping girls grow up to be well-rounded, equipped, expressive, confident, intelligent, capable, kind and independent.