One of the things young people want from their church family is just that – an extended family. They want people whom they know love them and care about them. They want people who will teach them and guide them towards who God wants them to be. They want people who enjoy spending time with them and even people who will hold them accountable.
Adults often think that just by being in the same room with young people or occasionally having a brief social conversation with them they are meeting the needs young people have for community. Kids and teens are often much wiser than many people realize. They know they need deeper relationships with godly adults, but most won’t express that need to anyone.
They will continue attending church with their families until allowed to make their own choices. Then many will go searching elsewhere for the community they hoped to find at church. Many times the other communities they find will be more loving and accepting, but draw them away from God instead of pointing them to Him.
As a volunteer teaching Bible to children or teens, you have an opportunity to help facilitate the development of some of these more meaningful, spiritual, mentoring type relationships between your students and godly adults in your congregation.
Here are some great ways to help your students get to know some of the adults in your congregation on a more meaningful level (Note: Please make sure all adults interacting with students have been properly screened. Student safety is your first priority.)
- Prayer Partners – Have adults agree to partner with young people and pray for them. The students should also be encouraged to pray for the adults (on appropriate topics). Opportunities should be given for prayer partners to have conversations and exchange requests until they are comfortable doing so without outside encouragement.
- Mentors – It often works best to create a more formal mentoring program that provides training for the adult mentors. Over time these relationships will hopefully continue without outside encouragement, but many adults need that initial help to begin mentoring young people.
- Special Class Guests – Have adults come in to your class to do a specific thing or to be a part of a panel discussion. They may share their expertise on a topic, pray, or share about ways they serve or obey God in the category covered by your lesson. Make sure to introduce them – even if you think your students know them. If possible, have them share something unique or interesting about themselves. These little tidbits can make conversations easier in the beginning.
- Chaperones – Take extra adults as chaperones on class field trips – even if you technically don’t need them. Encourage them to interact with students throughout the trip.
- Teaching One of God’s Gifts. Young people need opportunities to experiment with possible gifts they may have been given by God. Having people with various gifts come in and let them try the gift is also a great way to find potential mentors for students. Be sure to have the adults share how they use the particular gift to serve God.
- Helping in Ministry – Encourage leaders and participants in the various ministries usually handled by adults to allow young people to shadow them and find ways they can participate. Have them focus on meaningful ways young people can serve in that area and not just busy work.
- Church Wide Projects – If your entire church family is working on a project together, make sure the tasks have various ages working together. This is a great way to begin mentoring relationships.
- Hosting and Leading Clubs – There are a lot of clubs for young people that could easily be sponsored and led by church members. This not only gives them more opportunities to spend time with young people who already attend church, but their friends who may have no church home as well.
Helping facilitate mentoring and family type relationships between your students and the adults in your congregation takes extra time on your part. It is so important to your students though, that it is absolutely crucial to make it an important part of your ministry.