The Archbishop of York wore a hoodie as he urged people not to judge teenagers by their choice of fashion.
Dr Sentamu addresses the youth conference in Bradford
Dr John Sentamu told a conference on youth work in the Church: "Ninety-nine per cent of those who wear hoodies are law-abiding citizens."
About 150 teenagers were among the 650 delegates at Monday's event at Bradford Grammar School in West Yorkshire.
"In a rapidly changing culture, many are bewildered about how to communicate with young people," Dr Sentamu said.
"There are a lot of young people here today and to me that is very telling - they play a major part in the life of the Church.
"I'm delighted that the Diocese of Bradford is facing this issue head on.
"It can be risky allowing young people to participate but I'm glad that the Diocese of Bradford is prepared to take that risk."
Dr Sentamu, wearing the hoodie given to him by teenagers when he was Bishop of Birmingham, led the delegates in a conga-like procession as he played his African drums.
During the event, Dr Sentamu met many youngsters from the diocese, which stretches from the city of Bradford into the rural areas of the Yorkshire Dales.
He said: "Jesus said, 'Unless you become like a little child you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven'.
"We have a lot to learn from young people as well as much responsibility for them."
The Rev Steve Allen, one of the conference organisers, said: "The Archbishop's address was inspiring and we were all thrilled with his drumming.
"People went away enthused, encouraged and challenged to say yes to young people - so that many more of them will be drawn to Christ and find a home amongst us."
The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David James, said: "We are making young people our priority in 2006 and I'm delighted that we have this particular day to really focus on our work with them.
"There are some brilliant examples of imaginative youth and children's work within the diocese."