How to Get High School Students Involved in the Local Church

Kids in high school are on the cusp of adulthood. No longer children, yet not quite mature enough to make their own life choices, this period of development is marred by internal conflict and identity struggles.

Chris Holland
June 25, 2022
Kids Ministry Leadership

Though they may be difficult to manage and probably make their parents’ lives a pain, high schoolers are in a unique position. Their perspectives are open, their minds malleable, and their hearts ready to find God.

As they begin to grasp the shapes their futures will take, many kids are still eager to learn. These formative years tend to determine how committed to their faith they will be later in life, so harnessing their eager energy is essential.

When provided with the opportunity, you might be surprised how many kids in your youth ministry are ready to take a more significant role in their church communities. Trust that they will rise to the challenge.

Having faith in the children of your high school ministry is essential. Let them know that you believe in them and their abilities, so they grow alongside the church and strive to be better people.

Follow this guide for tips on engaging your high school students in the church.

Why Do High Schoolers Need to Commit?

Highschoolers talking about serving in a ministry

Student ministries are designed to help people believe in God and value Jesus but do little to incite respect for the local church. What if student ministers took it upon themselves to recruit these students to join the community?

A Lifeway Research poll in 2017 found that students aged 18-22 stopped attending church regularly, suggesting that they were never called to be church members. So when they leave home and widen their horizons for college, nothing is anchoring them to their faith.

Church membership is important for high school because it provides an identity line tethering them to something real. It makes them identifiable as a believer and as a part of a community. It provides a family for them in the future, wherever God’s path takes them.

Creative and Relevant Youth Ministry

Teens discussing ministry ideas outside

Inspire them to return by ensuring your teen church lessons speak to them directly and meet them where they are in their lives. From thought-provoking topics to philosophical debates where they are free to raise their doubts about God, creating a challenging environment for them will keep them coming back.

Providing small groups that consistently meet to discuss their experiences and faith will act as a much-needed helping hand to guide them on their journey to becoming church members. A connection will be far stronger with students of a similar age, so let them raise their thoughts in a safe space together.

Instilling Spiritual Disciplines 

Girl praying

The teenage years are the perfect time to create habits that will last a lifetime. Show the kids at your youth ministry that showing up for God is necessary to enable a life of devout Christianity. Spiritual disciplines like daily Bible study and prayer and attending Sunday services are non-negotiable.

Make sure you introduce them to these concepts in a way they can understand, without shaming them for their mistakes. Use the sports analogy to explain the importance of spiritual discipline. If you want to be a good football player, you must turn up to the training and matches. The same applies to being a good Christian.

Encourage Them to Serve

Girls group prayer

Providing volunteer opportunities for high school students gives them the chance to get hands-on with their faith. They are at the perfect age to begin serving their community, and what better place to start than within their church? When done right, kids will appreciate the responsibility and respect you show them.


 Offer various volunteer opportunities for high school kids at your church to appeal to their unique interests. Volunteering for high school students cultivates new skills and provides them with a valuable experience to talk about on their college applications. Remind them how important serving is for Christians of all ages.

Make Room for Creativity 

Girls practicing photography at the beach

Listen to your group of high school students and let them use their creativity where possible. Whether this is a short play to share with the preschoolers or a dance they choreograph to a Christian song is ultimately up to them, but remember to offer them more chances for independence than younger age groups.

Choosing an inspiring youth ministry curriculum for high schoolers will encourage them to use their creativity and skills. One of our favorites, made by Think Orange, is carefully designed to include parents on the learning journeys of their kids while prioritizing fun. Help the youngsters at your church have positive associations with their youth ministry!

Recruiting high school students to join your church isn’t the easiest task. If their family doesn’t already attend your church, they might meet your attempts with resistance, but choosing patient yet charismatic ministers to run the teen ministry will have a huge impact on getting them signed up for your local church.

Once they have signed up, a dynamic and thriving environment for teens will encourage them to keep coming back. Setting up small groups provides essential social support while cultivating an environment where other kids their age can hold them accountable with their faith. Remind the teens of your community that joining church offers them a family for life.

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