Giving our youth encouragement, along with the tools to succeed, can change their lives. Youth leaders must believe this with all of their hearts.
We can have Youth Group one night a week and send them off on their way for the rest of the week. But, if you want to build a lasting and trusting relationship with the youth of today, you need more than one interaction each week. You can add encounters with tutoring sessions to help kids with English or math. coaching a sports team, scheduling a movie night -- on days other than the regular youth night. Talk to the young people in your group and ask them what they need to be successful. Please do not just assume you know the answer. Get their input and views.
One need youth have shared with me is the development of a plan for life after High School. I am a true believer that the traditional college might not be for everyone. There are Trade schools, Vocational colleges and specific on-the-job training programs. But we need to help them see the variety of paths available. We can supplement the information and conversations their parents are having with their youth. The church can be there to help fill that gap between the parents’ experience, instructions from school counselors and the wide variety of possibilities. Youth workers can also be sounding boards for the youth as they explore ideas.
I know I might be asking a lot from those who might not have the time to invest this kind of effort. But, if not you, then who? There are too many youth who possess the talent to achieve a post secondary education setting, but fail to get the help from others like us who have the knowledge and skill to help them with this very important life transition. Information is power. If we continue to allow our youth not to tap into this information that can allow for a better life – spiritually, financially and for personal fulfillment, then we fail has Youth leaders.
by Earl Williams
Youth Director and Safe & Sacred Space Trainer
Grace United Methodist Church, Emporia, KS
Loving God, Loving Neighbor