Finding a way to express their spirituality is important to many teens.

Spirituality In Teens

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Teens are among the most spiritually active individuals in the United States, according to a 2007 report from the Barna Group, a research organization studying faith and spiritual activities in the United States. Teens look for a spiritual connection to God and pursue many ways to find it, include searching online and engaging in spiritual activities during the week, according to 2007 and 2010 reports from the Barna Group.

1. Encouraging Exploration

Teens are looking for a spiritual practice that fits what they believe, so encourage that exploration by accompanying your teen in examining various faith options. Read spiritual writing from various faiths, such as Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism with your teen and talk about what is meaningful. Compare and contrast the spiritual writings to what you believe and have an honest discussion about that with your teen. Visit various houses of faith in your community, such as a mosque, Jewish temple or Buddhist center with your teen and talk to people who worship there or the spiritual leaders about what they believe.

2. Addressing Spiritual Needs

According to a 2007 Barna Group report, Christian teens are looking for from a church experience. Those items include making a connection with God, understanding Christian beliefs, learning about moral and ethical church standards, understanding relationships from a spiritual perspective, exploring faith traditions and learning about personal evangelism. These concerns can also apply to teens in other faith traditions. Help your teen find ways to make any type of spiritual faith relevant by exploring various types of personal and corporate faith practices. You can attend spiritual activities together, for example, and take time to meditate, pray and read sacred writings together.

3. Teen Church Exodus

Many youth place spiritual practices on the back burner during their mid-teen and twenties. Many Christian teens say they find the church too judgmental and shallow and they believe the church is anti-science, too simplistic about sexual exploration and unfriendly to those who express doubts about Christian doctrine, according to a September 2011 Barna report. Ask your teen how his spiritual perspective affects his daily life, his moral view of the world and how it might apply to his career. Talk about how various faith practices such as meditation, reading spiritual writings, prayer and getting together with other believers who share his spiritual perspective can fit into his schedule and support whatever spiritual path he has chosen.

4. Active Spiritual Practice

Your teen can take spiritual concerns and needs to the pastor or other spiritual leader. Encourage your teen to express her spirituality by participating and assisting in activities at a religious center, home or school. Your teen could volunteer to lead or participate in an ecumenical or interfaith prayer group, teach an interfaith lesson or attend other spiritual activities for teens. Encourage her to pray for her friends and ask them to pray for her. Give her permission to hold spiritual activities with other teens in your home.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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