It breaks your heart, when a teen opens up and shares with you that they’re hurting. It changes the way you look at youth ministry. Almost like they’ve dropped a bomb on your world.
Youth ministry is fun and easy when it comes to playing games. It’s inspiring when a teen shares his story. When a teen reveals a deep secret, it’s like a bomb has gone off in the room. It’s a moment where you can celebrate that a teen trusts you. It’s also a moment that is so pivotal in a teen’s faith journey.
Your youth ministry need to know how to react when a teen opens up. It doesn’t matter if a teen is struggling with their sexuality or hurting themselves, you need a plan. When a student drops a bomb you need to:
- React With Love: It takes a lot of courage to admit your struggling. A teen that’s opens up is putting themselves out there for criticism. While the news might shock you, it’s most important that you remind them they are loved. That might mean taking the moment to thank them for sharing and listening. Your presence will be a huge sign of acceptance.
- Connect With Family: If the student has already dropped the bomb with the family, remind them they aren’t alone. If you are first to hear the information, you need to encourage them to go to their loved ones. This might mean walking with them through a difficult situation and making sure the family is supported as well.
- Look To Professionals: While you might be a professional youth minister there are some situations above your head. It’s important to build up an arsenal of resources and people who can handle deep psychological, emotional and even spiritual ordeals. Even if you go to another youth minister, do not handle the situation on your own.
- Keep Them Focused On God: The best thing you can do in the end is encourage their relationship with God. That means praying with them and for them. Remind them that God loves them. Show them His grace, mercy and forgiveness. If you can help them focus on God, you’ll help them build their faith.
When a student drops a bomb, it’s easy to panic. Put together a plan, and discuss it with your team. Bring your pastor on board and make sure it’s a team effort. When you can approach that student with God’s love, it’ll bring them assurance that they are not alone.
Am I missing any steps? How do you approach teens who are hurting?