Encouraging Teenagers to Write

Those of you who have been coming to Rooted’s website for awhile know that we are always encouraging parents to give their kids great books to read. Developing a lifelong love of reading — especially reading well-chosen, artfully constructed, spiritually edifying books — will develop faith, character, empathy, and imagination in our children. What’s more, reading is an excellent way to restore the body while nourishing the soul. We start with the Bible, and return over and over to the Bible, but we don’t neglect fiction, theology, history, apologetics, or even poetry. Spiritual formation happens in a number of ways, but we are sending important messages to our children when we put certain books in their hands.

Consider writing as another avenue for spiritual formation. Here at the start of the school year, why not give your teenager a journal? Blank journals (perhaps unlined, for the daydreaming doodler) and guided journals (like these books of the Bible and topical offerings from Crossway) can offer teens a place to articulate their prayers, musings, emotions, and frustrations. Growing up in a generation that expresses itself so publicly on social media, teenagers need a private place to practice putting their emerging beliefs into words. As the poet W.H Auden wondered, “How can I know what I think till I see what I say?” For some teens, your encouragement to write for no audience other than God will lead to a lifelong spiritual practice that will allow them to see the faithfulness of the Lord as their years of journaling roll by.

Other teenagers yearn to communicate with the larger world, and there are ways to encourage this practice too. Keep an eye out for opportunities like TGC’s recent essay contest for young adults. Rooted periodically offers our student series, which over the years has produced some of the most insightful, encouraging articles on the blog. Avenues like these allow teens to work with editors who are invested in their growth as writers, apart from the pressure of grades. Even as we challenge teenagers to express themselves clearly and communicate thoughtfully with a broader audience, budding essayists and journalists can blossom when we provide them opportunity and encouragement.

Whether the teen you love has “a way with words” or needs help finding the words, offer them avenues for written expression. The simple practice of crafting sentences will help them thrive and grow to be the men and women God made them to be.

Advancing Grace-Driven Youth Ministry

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