I'm a strong believer that belonging precedes belief. This means that if we want teens to take ownership of their faith, we have to first help them belong.
To be clear, belonging doesn't happen accidentally. Helping teens belong takes time, intentionality, and the willingness to pay attention to details, over and over again.
Here are 10 things you can do to help teens belong:
1. Don't assume people know where things like the Youth Room are located. Instead, describe where you're meeting (2nd floor, to the left of the middle stair case) so teens can find you with ease.
2. Make your physical space as inviting as possible . Keep it clean. Arrange seating so as to encourage conversations. Decorate the walls with art made by the teens themselves.
3. Have the right amount of seating. Too few seats makes newcomers feel as though there's no place for them. Too many seats makes the room feel empty.
4. Personally invite people to attend events and regular youth gatherings. Ask core students to do the same.
5. Greet people by name as soon as they enter your space. If you don't know their name, be proactive about introducing yourself and finding their name out.