|Courtesy of Sean MacEntee/Creative Commons License|
Last week I sat down with the recent high school grads for a little breakfast and chat. It’s an annual tradition that started a few years back. It’s a chance for us to walk down memory lane, I’ll bestow on them a few words of wisdom and then they go off to college, ready to take on the world. It’s a bittersweet experience because while I’m happy to see them take on the next chapter of their life, I know I’ll miss them. And while I hope that they’ve enjoyed their time in my ministry, I pray that it won’t be the pinnacle of their spiritual journey.
As a youth minister you want your ministry to be memorable; yet, it should also be the catalyst to push them deeper into faith. While ministry has many components, one of the biggest should be preparing teens for the next chapter of life. In order to do that you need to be implementing steps for the future, such as:
- Empowering The Family – Youth ministers need to be looking at resources like Think Orange and Sticky Faith. This is a time where uniting with your children’s ministry to tackle families has never been so important. While you might not always be there for the teens, chances are family will. Build your ministry around the question “How can I better serve the family for the long haul?”
- Giving Them A Vision Plan – On top of giving them a general vision for their life we need to teach them to cultivate their own specific one (Here’s how). By teaching teens how to cast vision you allow them to use graduation as a mile marker to something great. The reason teens leave ministry is because they meet a mile marker, thinking it’s the end goal. A good vision will take them beyond their college years.
- Instilling Habits – Just as Paul tells us in Philippians to work out our salvation on our own, we need to remind our teens the same. High school flies by and many of them do not realize that one day they won’t have you or their parents reminding them to read the Bible, go to church and say their prayers. Empower them by showing them the tools and resources they need to grow as Christians on their own.
- Letting Them Lead – This is an area that I struggle in the most. Give your teens opportunities to lead and serve on their own. Do not micro manage them, give them the opportunity (like you do with your adults) to succeed and fail. By creating these opportunities you allow them to see their potential and limitations. When they understand the boundaries, they’ll have a better idea of the path ahead of them.
While a teen’s spiritual foundation does not solely fall on you, it’s important that you create a ministry that guides them in the right direction. Utilize the other components and relationships (i.e. family) in their lives. Help them see the bigger and broader picture. And when they are ready to head off into the next chapter of life, let them go; however, remind them that they can always come back to you.
How do you prepare teens for the next chapter of life?