How To Start An Online Church Appealing To The Youth

It’s no secret that many churches struggle to engage their younger members long-term - yet doing so is essential to the future of the church community. That means that now is the best time for churches to invest in their online services to make them more accessible and appealing to young people.‍

Stephanie Antonucci Leathe

July 8, 2022

It’s no secret that many churches struggle to engage their younger members long-term - yet doing so is essential to the future of the church community. That means that now is the best time for churches to invest in their online services to make them more accessible and appealing to young people.

This poses an interesting challenge. How can churches connect to young people and foster this connection in the community for years to come? Building relationships will be key here, and it needs to be done the right way. 

What Churches Get Wrong About Teens

Let’s be honest, in many churches teens are under-served. For a long time, adolescents have been considered to be the most challenging and ill-willed of potential churchgoers. 

The problem is that this idea just ostracizes them further from the church's message. You want to attract more sheep to your flock, not leave them out to the wolves!

So let go of those generalizations and biases, and think about what the youth of today really need: people to guide them through the hard times, give them hope and be genuine with their interests. 

In this guide, we’ll talk more about the value teens can bring to your church (particularly your online offerings) and how you can better connect to them as a whole:

Catering Online Church Services To Youth

The online gatherings you prepare for your youth groups can easily be as engaging as the in-person ones if you use the right platform for it. 

Options like videos, games, conversations, and presentations all become possible online, and pastors or youth leaders can make use of these tools to deliver their messages too.

Here are just a few of the ways that working online can help you connect better with your youth group:

  • Engage them with short video messages that offer them a daily scripture, positive thought, or point of reflection
  • Schedule hangout sessions throughout the week using relevant themes like how to manage stress, fun Fridays, and more.
  • Encourage them to create! Have them design videos or other creative online content around your topics of discussion

Keeping The Messaging Right

We’ve all seen the “hello fellow kids” meme at this point, and it’s more accurate than you’d imagine. 

Too many pastors and youth leaders believe that the best way to connect to their teens is to use slang and young references in a way that is incredibly offputting. If this is you: stop. 

Teenagers aren’t going to relate to you if you try to talk or act like them. They can tell how disingenuous it is. You’ll have a much better time (and be more relatable) if you talk to them as yourself. How you get them to trust you and listen to your guidance is by playing open cards with them and really taking an interest in what they say and do. 

Managing Your Online Youth Group

Apart from having the right messaging on board, you’ll also need to use the right tools. 

Teenagers today are spending an increasing amount of time online, which means that if you want to reach them you’ll need to do the same. You want to invest in your social media presence, your online meeting platform, and analytics monitoring at a minimum.

Your online presence should be targeted at creating a welcoming and safe place for teens. They’ll be more likely to continue engaging with your church if you can show them that their fears of being rejected or treated differently are unfounded.

Tips For Getting Teens Involved

Here’s another thing that might surprise you - having your teens be part of running your youth group might make them more likely to keep coming back. 

Maybe one of your teens has a talent for music or graphic design. Can you task them with preparing something for your youth group? Don’t be afraid to put a call out for volunteers and encourage the teens to suggest and run activities that are suitable.

Extra points if you can ask them to get involved one-on-one in a way that encourages them. Make them feel needed and you’ll be surprised at how much they can blossom as future youth group leaders themselves.

Social media is a great place to start. Have your group come up with ideas for your social pages and discussion points that they want you to address. The chances are good that what matters to them will also matter to other teens that come across your messaging online. 

The other thing your youth group lessons can do is bring teens together in friendship. Youth groups are not just about joining activities, they are also about building relationships with like-minded adolescents in the same community. Once you have made a space for friendships to grow within the group, they’ll become close-knit and continue visiting your services together. 

The Core Of Churches That Appeal To The Youth

We know that what attracts teens to the church includes a bunch of things: friendship, understanding, guidance, and non-judgment. This is why it’s key to look at your online church services as a whole with the above in mind. Do you think your teens feel welcome and included? Are you motivating them to stay involved?

Creating an inviting culture with open communication is your best chance at producing an online church group for teens that actually makes a difference in their lives.

Remember, even your most ‘rebellious’ teens are really just looking for connection and understanding that they might not be found elsewhere. Honor their experiences, validate their questions, and give them the legitimate spiritual guidance they are craving. 

Don’t pretend to be one of them or make them feel lesser in the church system because they have questions. Advise them and advocate for them. Become a safe place where they can meet with their peers and God - as a leader, your job is simply to facilitate this meeting of minds and spirituality.

 

Creating A Safe Online Environment For Youth Groups

It’s not enough to just run a service through a Facebook live stream or typical video call. Not only are these platforms not made for churches, but you are dealing with minors here which means that you’ll need additional peace of mind in terms of monitoring and safety.

Enter Altar Live, the platform built to stream church events and run small online groups in one seamless experience. 

Most churches offering online church services struggle to connect with the person on the other side of the screen - you don’t know who is joining or leaving, and there is no sense of real engagement and participation. 

This is where Altar Live is different:

  • Create a welcoming and energetic environment online that feels like being in person.
  • Easily see who else is joining your online event with visualized icons on the screen.
  • Build trust and connection with first-time visitors and regular attendees by getting to know them over direct message or by connecting more personally through a private 1:1 video conference.
  • Get notified when someone joins your events or meeting for the first time so you can follow up with them.
  • Get analytic insight into both anonymous visitors and regular attendees so you can understand who is engaging with you online.

And that’s just the beginning. Learn more about how Altar Live can radically transform your online church services today - schedule a discovery call with our team and try our free trial. 

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