My former Youth Ministry professor at Colorado Christian University, RJ Koerper, used to say to our college class, "Everyone is looking for security and significance. Both are found in Jesus."
And this is exactly what teenagers are looking for in their own lives. Many are looking for security in temporary human relationships. They look to friends (including online ones) and family to fill the gap in their souls. But this is not enough. Only a relationship with God can fully fill the abyss of hopelessness that is in the center of every human heart. As Blaise Pascal once said, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."
When it comes to significance too many teenagers (including Christian ones) are looking to sports accomplishments, academic prowess or social acceptance to create their sense of self-worth. But God gives us the ultimate reason for living: to bring Him glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) and to tell his story (Acts 1:8.)
St. Ignatius had the Latin motto: "Ad majorem dei gloriam inque hominem salutem" which means "For the greater glory of God and salvation of humanity." That statement can be repurposed by Protestants to become our motto and inspire the next generation.
Have you ever wondered why the church is losing so many teenagers, especially older ones? Sure teenagers are busy today (jobs, schoolwork, pre-college courses, etc) but they'll make time for what matters to them. And, to be honest, the appeal of dodgeball games, pizza parties and 20 minute chats about basic spiritual stuff loses its luster after awhile. "Been there done that" is pretty much what any Christian teenager could say after a semester's worth of typical youth group programming.
But give these same teenagers a place and the space to unpack who they are in Jesus (security) and the core of life's biggest questions (where do we come from? who is God? why am I here? etc) combined with a mission that matters (saving teenagers from the hell they are headed to and going through) then you have a recipe for revival and a reason to come back every week.
Teenagers are leaving the church because many churches have left their core mission and exchanged it for something less than optimal, unable to keep our teenagers focused on Jesus and his mission.
This is why we at Dare 2 Share call this mission THE Cause. It is the greatest cause on the planet, to rescue the lost through the gospel and redeem this broken generation through the message and mission of Jesus.
I encourage you to bring your teenagers to The Fearless Tour where they will get a strong dose of the twin realities of their security and significance in Christ. Based on the book of Ephesians, your teenagers will be immersed in God's unimaginable love for them and the unimaginable mission He has for them.