"I suspect that if you are like me, you prepare for lots of changes in your lives, the lives of your family members, and the lives of the kids you serve in ministry. But we may come up short in thinking best how to prepare for the transitions that those changes bring about." This is an exerpt from an article I found on Fuller's Youth Institute site.
You may have a child that is heading off to college soon. They will face transitions that we hope they will be prepared for - but many times are not. Just moving from elementary school to junior high, and junior high to high school brings transition anxiety along with the journey. This article offers some good information and resource suggestions for preparing our students, and our children, for change and for transition and the anxiety that this can cause.
To read the article in its entirety, you can visit Fuller Youth Institute on the web, and click on their parenting page. The article is "Anxiety in the In-Between Stages of Our Lives: Healthy Strategies for Coping with Transitions", by Rhett Smith.
Here is a direct link: http://stickyfaith.org/articles/anxiety-in-the-in-between-stages-of-our-lives?utm_source=FYI+E-Journal&utm_campaign=3c4b9c106c-FYI_E_Journal_May_22_20125_18_2012&utm_medium=email
Stacy K. Ash,
Assistant Director of Youth Ministries
Wesley UMC / Bloomington, IL
An interesting article by Steven Argue at the Fuller Institute on faith – specifically the faith development process as a teen – caught my attention. Below is just a part of the article. You can read the article in its entirety at: http://stickyfaith.org/articles/from-faith-to-faithing.
Assistant Director of Youth Ministries / Wesley UMC
From Faith to Faithing
Could Faith be a Verb?
We do young people a disservice when we witness them questioning, struggling, reacting, even pitching the way they believe, and assume that they’ve lost their faith (noun). In actuality, like Peter, they are walking away from more simplistic vessels of faithing, seeking to construct bigger, more faithful faithing through which to hold what they know and what they experience. In faithing, we’re constantly discarding and acquiring perspective that informs our meaning making.
This perspective helps us as adults hear (and respond) differently when we experience adolescents saying things like:
- “I’m not sure I believe what I’ve been taught anymore.”
- “Can the Bible really be true about that?”
- “I’m questioning everything these days.”
- “Maybe my view of God is different than I have imagined.”
- “It’s not making sense to me.”
- “My parents believe it, but I’m not sure I see it that way.”
Noun-faith perspectives find these questions sacrilegious, often evoking reactionary advice like telling young people to just read the Bible more. Verb-faith perspectives find these statements natural, even essential in the meaning-making process.
The challenge is to help students’ faithing versus having them hold onto a childlike Christian belief system. This may be why the National Study of Youth and Religion observes the inability of adolescents and emerging adults to articulate their beliefs.
If faithing is relegated to youth group apart from the other domains of life; if it is perpetuated with behavior modification that treats testimonies like Facebook statuses, highlighting only the positive and the fantastic; and if it ignores the Peter paintings by downplaying doubt, fear, struggle, and sinking as part of the faithing journey, then it leaves adolescents and emerging adults with a static faith of untested and un-integrated truth statements. This faith is relegated to church for safe keeping while the rest of life is wrestled with in other ways. Some say young people are leaving the church. Maybe they’re searching for real places to faith.
The reality is that, like Peter, young people will at some point want and need to step out of their existing faithing vessels in order to create truer containers by which to hold their meaning-making. This is a scary venture that freaks parents out and risks making local churches “look bad.” But the good news is found, shared, and proclaimed in each person’s struggle toward transformation.
The Purpose of Youth Ministry…
DEFINITION: Youth ministries are the ministry of students to the world, not the ministry of the church to students. The difference is huge – either way we see students as needing help or we see students as the answer to the world’s needs in the name of Christ.
definition from Leader Treks
We meet monthly together as a group of youth leaders here at Wesley. Adults that have volunteered their time and their hearts to students not only help us lead in various ministries (Sunday school, Wednesday night small groups, retreats, Bible Studies, mentoring, etc.) but also commit to a monthly adult meeting to learn and grow together as adults.
In a recent meeting the training piece of the evening was The Purpose of Youth Ministry. The definition is listed above. The definition alone was enough to spark interesting conversation, and open our eyes to see youth ministry not just as a program within a church – but a movement of young Christian disciples that we are blessed enough to work with, serve with, and challenge.
One of the hardest things to do as a youth leader – even just as an adult working with a teen – or as a parent - is to let them take the lead. What kind of thoughts come to mind when you envision a student taking the lead in a worship service, in organizing a retreat, in leading a study, in repairing a home? Messiness, missed details, chaos. Those words come to mind, and sometimes that indeed happens. The tendency is to anticipate those things happening and “control” the effort.
By entrusting students to lead, by encouraging students to lead, by allowing students to lead, we actually help them learn to depend on God. Christian leaders look to God for guidance and help. When students lead it provides teachable moments – opportunities to help them work through mistakes, learn to anticipate possible problems, and to learn the importance of teamwork. If we just do it for them – where is the growth opportunity? Sure, it might be prettier – or easier, at this point I can throw together a junior high night in a day if I needed to – but how will that stretch our students to be willing to step out in their church and community and lead now and as they grow into adulthood.
When students lead, and have supportive adults surrounding them, encouraging them, helping them, it builds another relationship. Those students know that these adults trust them, value them and respect them. Students allowed to lead will open up about challenges in their own lives as we work to help them with difficult situations in their leadership.
You can begin to see how simply allowing a teen to lead opens up many new possibilities to ministering to and discipling those students. This applies to parenting as well.
Sometimes all of the i’s aren’t dotted, the t’s aren’t crossed. Sometimes the results might not be what we originally envisioned. But through allowing them to try, allowing them to make mistakes, and through teaching, debriefing, and encouraging these young disciples – we are helping them to strengthen their leadership skills, showing them the value of Christian community, and encouraging them to actively live out their faith.
Stacy K. Ash
Assistant Director of Youth Ministries, Wesley UMC Bloomington
People in the world are talking to our teenagers. It is important as parents that we be some of those people. Sometimes our teenagers don't need us to fix a problem, but they just need us to listen and allow them to share their emotions and frustrations. Then sometimes, there will be those wonderful times when they will allow us to talk with them.
Assistant Director of Youth Ministries / Wesley UMC