Mom or Dad, how do you respond to uncertainty and confusion in your life? When things that are happening in your world, in your personal life, in your work life that you don’t understand, how do you process and how do you respond? Your response to uncertainty in your life will more than likely be your child’s response to uncertainty in their lives. As you parent your child you responsibility first and foremost is to be a reflection of Jesus and show them the Gospel. Your teenager is trying to process through a ton of situations and circumstances all while figuring out who they are. How you parent in times of uncertainty may be some of the most important parenting you will ever do.
Now that you feel the pressure, relax! God would not have given you this task of parenting in the first place if He didn’t think you could do it. He will give you what you need, when you need it, however you will need it. Helping your teenager through uncertainty is a big deal and there will be some common responses you will see and probably feel yourself.
On response is selfishness. I am sure you are fighting self centeredness with your teenager regardless of whats happening in life. Especially when things are crazy around you, self centeredness is a common response because it is a way to have control. Usually uncertainty and confusion means a lack of control. Being selfish is a way to bring everything in to control whats going on. This attitude is the opposite of how God calls us to live.
When you react selfishly you start caring more about your well being than anyone else.
When you react selfishly you make decisions that are all about you.
When you react selfishly you become callus the needs of those around you.
When you react selfishly you relinquish trust in God and act like everything depends on you.
Our selfish response keeps us from living the life that God calls us to live!
Another response to uncertainty and confusion is fear. Being fearful can be paralyzing and hold you back from living the life that God intended. It is natural for teenagers to be fearful of the unknown, the uncertain and the confusing. As a parent, leaning into that fear and uncovering “the why” behind it is so important. Help your teenager realize that our God is the God of hope, not fear. Fear consumes and holds you back, hope multiplies and propels you forward!
When you react in fear you paralyze yourself from what could be.
When you react in fear your focus is on the wrong thing.
When you react in fear your trust is misplaced.
When you react in fear your eyes are closed to what God is doing all around you.
Our fearful response holds us back from living life to the fullest as God intended.
Here are a few passages of scripture to read with your teenager and reflect on with them:
Some questions to help you engage with your teenager:
What things in life are you afraid of? Why?
If God was standing right next to you when you are afraid, would that change anything? Why or why not?
How did Jesus respond to His disciples fear in the passages of scripture above?
What is one small step you can take to be less fearful and less selfish?
COVID-19 is here at it has completely changed the way we are doing youth ministry, church and relationships in general. Do you have a plan? Have you taken time to be strategic with how you are going to stay in front of your students, to engage them spiritually, to help them have some human interaction. There are students who are going to feel more isolated than ever before and need someone to reach out and care about them. This is a time in our world that is going to change how we do things, I believe for the better! Let's be honest, this quarantine is not for the faint of heart. Let's get into it!!
Your communication has never been more important than right now! Do you have a newsletter, do you have an email list of families to communicate with, are you clear and concise with your information, have you asked for feedback on your communication to families? All of those questions are important. It's time to communicate better.
Does your ministry have a YouTube page, Facebook Group, Instagram, etc? Use it consistently but not to much. If you were used to meeting on Wednesday nights with your crew. Go LIVE on Wednesday nights. and engage with your students. My recommendation is to use Zoom. (www.zoom.us) It is a video conferencing tool that offers a free basic account that gives you a lot of great features to use to interact with a group of people.
Using Zoom, here is what your live service online could look like:
Play a Game - get creative (home hunt - contest to see who can bring the home item to their screen first)
Have a devotional to share, do a S.O.A.P. study with your group over a passage of scripture, show a video
Have some discussion questions ready about the devotional
Ask for Prayer requests
For an awesome tutorial on how to use Zoom and the Sidekick App from DYM (downloadyouthministry.com) check this out: https://blog.downloadyouthministry.com/how-to-use-zoom-and-sidekick-for-youth-group-online/
Be consistent with your LIVE events. Make sure you let your students and leaders know well in advance when and how they can access the event.
Think of fun ways you can engage your students in a fun way throughout the week. We are doing a quarantine challenge. Each week we have a different challenge for our students to record themselves doing.
Week 1 - The Impossible Shot - video record yourself making a trick shot at home
Week 2 - Epic Blanket Fort - video record yourself giving everyone a tour of your blanket fort
Week 3 - Chopped - video record yourself making a delicious gourmet meal, mandatory ingredient is hot dog
We will vote on the best one and then I will probably find a random object laying around, spray it gold, wear a hazmat suit and deliver it to the student who won!
You can have fun in so many different ways. Do not stop trying to help students have fun things to do to engage in your youth ministry. Middle school and high school students are bored, give them something fun to do!
Another thing we can do is set loose our students to do ministry to each other. Why not let your students lead out and give a devotional online? Have students record themselves with a devotional thought, a passage of scripture that has been teaching them something and what they are learning through it. When they send you the video, post it on your social media platforms you use for your social media. Don't stop there, put it out on your churches social media platforms and allow students to lead the way through this weird time. You can leverage students in a lot of different ways. Do not think it all has to be on you!
This gives you, the youth pastor, the opportunity to really minister to students. Phone calls, emails, group chats, zoom hangouts, live events and a myriad of other tools are in play and your students need you to care about them in a way they didn't even realize they needed. Just because you can't be physically in front of your students doesn't mean you can't be relational, care about them and minister to them effectively.
Use this time to kick your ministry up a notch. Pray a lot for our country, for your students and for God spirit to move powerfully in our world.
I have never been a huge “outdoorsy” guy or someone who desires to rock climb, scale a cliff face at Yosemite or scale Everest. That kind of activity isn’t something that gets me going! I can totally understand why people love it. I am sure there is some sense of accomplishment by the actual physical activity but the real reward is making it to the top to see how far you have come. I have been to the top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado. Why would I climb to the peak when they have a perfectly good road to the top where I can drive and save myself the time? It was incredible to look out over miles and miles of God’s creation. Down the mountain you could see the lush green valley and the city of Colorado Springs. You could also see the Rockies as the mountain range stretched over miles and miles. That moment is etched into my brain, it was awe inspiring. We have these types of moments in our faith as well and they are so important. As a student pastor these mountain top moments may look different for you than it does for your students.
1. Mountain Top moments are when you feel close to God like never before.
Mountain Top Moments make you feel like you are really in the presence of our creator and king. These are powerful and life shaping moments that I believe God uses to give us an idea of whats to come!
I remember being a high school student headed to summer camp in New York. I remember the worship, “This is the Air I breath” was my jam. I remember the speaker, not his name but what he said challenged me to the core. I remember the decisions I made that week to change how I as going about my life. It was a pivotal week in my faith journey. It was one of my first mountain top moments that I will never forget.
2. Are you giving your students the opportunity to have mountain top spiritual moments?
Are you creating times where teenagers can get away from the routine of life they are currently in and spend intentional time with our Savior. We’re talking about Summer Camps, Missions Trips, Retreats, Get Aways, Discipleship Meetings, even regular church programming. These moments are faith-shapers. Teenagers need to know that the mountain isn’t forbidden, its attainable and all are welcome.
Obviously within these moments there is a place to teach, guide and shepherd. Some students feel loss when they lose sight of that feeling and those emotions. The truth is… its ok. It’s ok to feel different and not feel the same. The feelings are not what fuel our faith, its the experience that allow us perspective and allow us self evaluate. God uses that perspective to help us make necessary changes in our lives that propel us into greater knowledge and love for Him.
3. Are you planning for the moments?
Are you looking at your calendar and planning for moments, or times where you want to lean in a little harder to what God may be trying to teach the teenagers you shepherd? Your year starts now, it starts with a plan and ends with praying like everything depends on God (because it does).
What mountain top moments are you praying for this year??