1) Lack of Hospitality - When young people approach or enter the room, no one greets them and tells them they are happy to see them. Teens need to feel part of what you are about to do.
2) Sound Issues - Teens can’t be engaged in what they can’t hear. Invest in sound equipment. If you can’t afford a sound system make sure that you are meeting in a room small enough to work without a sound system and that whoever is speaking speaks up.
3) Too Large a Room for the Number of Youth Attending - 30 teens meeting in a room that can hold 200 appears to teens that nobody showed up. Shrink the room my putting up dividers, tables or whatever can create a more intimate space. It is better to cram more people in a smaller space to create a sense of some bigger event happening!
4) Charging for Food - have free snacks and drinks. If you have free food – teens will show up! (It keeps your Core members happy as well) Ask some parents to bring food or provide snacks. They are asked this all the time at school, why not at Church?
5) Fun Police on Patrol - There is normally one on every Core team. They believe that Church can’t be fun and if teens are laughing they are not learning. They make teens feel guilty for having fun and being – well, um – teens! Take away their badge and make the meeting fun and inspirational.
6) No Sense of the Sacred Present - If there is nothing that sets the meeting as something spiritual the teens might as well be going to a parking lot to meet. Start and end the meeting with prayer – for that matter, pray several times by creating prayer experiences as a part of your meeting plan. Make sure you have a Crucifix in the room. Hang up religious symbols, pictures of saints or banners with your church or youth groups name on it to help young people make a connection.
7) Poor Planning – No last minute throwing something together for the teens. Plan and have a flow for the night. At Life Teen all our meetings follow the Liturgical flow of Gather, Proclaim, Break and Send. It works and helps you to stay on track. Pay close attention to transitions during the meeting to keep teens focused.
8) False Advertising - If you have used names or promises to get teens to attend by telling them you have some celebrity or prize available at the meeting – you had better deliver. If you say it – make sure it happens!
9) Talking At Youth and Not With Them - Send Mr. Long Speech packing. Teens want the truth spoken with love but not by hour long tirades by some adult. Let the teens talk and have a part in the meeting. If teens attend and in their experience never add to the meeting, they won’t feel like they are part of it.
10) Nothing New – The room looks the same, the calendar on the wall is still turned to last month and the teaching was the same teaching the teens have heard before about not doing drugs. Make each meeting a new event, full of new information and inspiration! Teens shut down quickly if they get the “Been there, done that” attitude on.
What would you add to the list?