When did the church start being viewed as "safe"? When did Christianity become so nice and palatable? It seems to me that Jesus and His followers were thought of as neither "safe" or "palatable" by the powers that be and the culture at large. Is it possible that one of the reasons that Jesus (and the idea of following Him) seems so uninteresting to most teenagers is that we have presented Him as something He wasn't (safe, bland, neutered, etc.)?
Rebellion is simply a fact of adolescence. It will be exhibited in some way, large or small. Is it possible to harness that rebellion for the Kingdom of God? I believe with all my heart that it is. However, it will require that we stop remaking Jesus in our own image and instead remake ourselves into His. It will require that we reveal to our teens the subversive and radical nature of the Kingdom. We will have to show them the Jesus that bucked pretty much all the systems. We must show them the Jesus who stubbornly swam upstream against the currents of power, greed, control, selfishness, and pride, by the power of love. We have to let them hear the voice of Jesus calling them to follow his rebellious path that fights injustice, reaches out to the downtrodden, refuses to stay in the safety of our little church buildings, and challenges the assumptions and power structures of the world. Oh, and one more thing: we have to be the rebels who model the Way for them, not the sellouts who paint a picture of Jesus that makes us feel comfortable and safe.
What if teens rebelled TO the church instead of away from it? What if that was the plan all along?