Will You Be a Mentor For Young People?

Will You Be a Mentor/Coach for Young People? 
My name is Ed Miller.
Have you ever been a part of something that you thought was going to be really historic? That's the way I feel right now. God is on the move and I'm just holding on for the ride! There are a few special things going on at once. Let me tell you more about this. 

I’ve already shared about my investment in teens and families at my church in Robbinsville, New Jersey. Yesterday, we launched our new Youth Ministry for 2017. We're combining a number of different elements that make up our new strategy. 

First, we're doing monthly activities. Some of these are just fun and others are more serious. Yesterday we combined fun and serious conversation. I led a discussion with an overview of our strategy for the year. Next month, the Middle Schoolers will go on a Winter Retreat to Young Life's Lake Champion. (Any Young Life fans out there!) I think we'll also come up with something for the High Schoolers. 

Another piece of the puzzle involves outreach. Teens and adults will work together to plan and run an family outreach to our town called "Hero Training Camp: A Family Adventure." The concept of a "teenager" is a relatively recent phenomenon. 150 years ago, a young person because an adult at 13 and went to work in the family business or on the farm. Now they have this time where they're preparing to be an adult, but not yet seen as an adult. It's a challenging time. I think it's most helpful to treat young people more as young adults who have gifts and talents and can play a role in the church. 

The third key component is mentoring. I like the term "coach" but you can use either of these ideas. Research shows us that teens are very open to having adults involved in their lives if they come as friends/mentors/coaches.  I'm working
on raising up an ARMY of older adults who will invest in young people as coaches. Almost 5 years ago now, I read a book by Dr. Kara Powell and Chap Clarke called Sticky Faith It had a profound impact on me. Dr. Kara Powell now has a book called Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. Kara Powell is the Director of the Fuller Youth Institute. She is proclaiming strongly to the world that every teenager needs 5 mentors/coaches in their lives other than their parents. Yes, you heard me correctly. These are folks who go to their sporting events or their school play and engage them in discussion about life issues. They model genuine Biblical faith for these young people and a safe place to ask questions. In Young Life, we call this contact work. (Tip of the hat to all my Young Life friends!) These are most effective as informal relationships.

Kara Powell, Exec. Director of the Fuller Youth Institute
I told this story before, but it bears re-telling. Kara tells the story of a growing church in Pennsylvania that has a vibrant ministry to young people and young adults. As they interviewed people, they kept hearing about this man “Bill.” Everyone was talking about “Bill.” They assumed that Bill must be this hip youth leader. In fact, Bill is a 72 year old man who has recruited a team of his peers to mentor young people. They value them as Young Life demonstrates so very well. they do “contact work” with teens on their turf. It’s really awesome. I hope to raise up an army of older adults to mentor the next generation. I’m on my way at Calvary Chapel Living Hope in Robbinsville, New Jersey.

Here's a bonus in all of this. I am well placed in the lives of these families to offer help and hope to the parents. Careful and honest communication is critical. Parents have to know the plan and be on board. For example, I’m heavily invested with one particular family at Calvary Chapel Living Hope. I coached them in their parenting last year and continue to mentor them along with their children. I’ve jumped in with both feet, but I have to make sure to maintain a healthy balance. I’m not the parent here, but rather working with the parents in support of their efforts as the primary disciplers of their children. We have some excellent interactions and the communication is very honest and open.

For parents of teens who are reading this article, start to think about mentors for your children. If you’re a leader in your church, start to think about your older members and grandparents who may be excited to serve as the “Bills” in your church. These folks are generally under-utilized in the church, but they have much time, energy and resources to give. 

Are you an older adult looking for a way to invest your time, energy and experience? Just let me know and I'll help you get started. I'm also going to refer you to the Legacy Coalition: Grandparenting Matters. This ministry is just
exploding right now and grandparents are getting on board to be intentional in ministry to the next generation. Plan to attend the Legacy Coalition Summit in DFW in November. I'll be there. Please join me!

I hope that these thoughts and our many resources at the National Center for Biblical Parenting will make it just a bit easier for you. Please post questions and I’ll be happy to give you some feedback.

One more thing for you in this article. I know that many of your are waiting for the 3rd installment of my video series called, "A Father Talks with His Son About Anger." The final installment is now available. Watch it today.
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We're going to have some great articles every week throughout 2017. Starting in March, we'll be having a Guest Blogger every month. 


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