“Kids have playgrounds, adults have Starbucks, but where else can teenagers meet indoors, without charge, and do whatever: play video games, do homework, craft, chat?”
This is from an article on how public libraries have started designing young adult sections that teens would actually use.
It’s a great question. Most teens don’t hang out anywhere. It feels like everybody just goes home to their room after school and only interacts with people through their screen.
They need to get out and be around people but where are they supposed to do that?
In high school the only things I was involved in were theatre and my church. If I wasn’t at home I was at one of those two places (or Chipotle). There were days I’d hang out at church because I was helping my youth pastor work on an event or a big project. But there were a lot of days I went up there just to goof off. I got to have a lot of hands on experience with ministry and my relationship with my youth pastor grew so much.
Do students just hang out at churches? Is that a thing that’s happening?
Can the church follow the example of public libraries and create a place where they can be themselves outside of services?
I’m sure the biggest push back would be the idea that students would end up putting themselves in a bubble. They’d only ever be around Christians and never spending time with people outside the church. But why can’t they come too?
“Hey, We need to work on that big group project for English class. I know your parents are weird about having guests over and my house smells super weird, so do you want to come to my church and work on it in the cafe?”
I was an interim youth pastor for a year and a half in Waxahachie, TX. I can’t think of a single place high schools liked to hang out that was actually open and welcoming to them being there.
A ton of them would go to Hastings after school to flirt awkwardly with each other, be weird, draw on their hands, play with their YuGiOh cards. Eventually Hastings banned all of them because they would swarm in at 4, never buy any coffee, and would steal books from the bookstore.
At night a ton of students would crowd around a corner of the Wal-Mart parking lot. They called the area “the snake pit” which is…so dumb. Every once in a while cops would drive up and get everyone to scatter for a while before coming right back to the pit.
Where are teenagers supposed to go? No one wants them. They’re loud, messy, and can be destructive.
When Jesus said “let the little children come to me?” Did he also mean “let the teenagers come too, with their acne, and their loud laughter, and their phones, and their secret vape pens they hide from their mom, and all the baggage they bring with them.”