Be nice to kids…………………………………..Tom Schwolert

Ok adults, think way back to your middle or high school years.  I know for some of us it is a reach, but think back for a  moment.  Do you remember having any adults in your life that were very significant to you, particularly in your faith journey?  I remember one in particular.  She was a mom of a friend of mine.  She always opened up her swimming pool to any kids that wanted to come over during the summer when we were “bored.”  But it was always more than swimming.  We would usually end up sitting on the back porch with a glass of iced tea telling stories, laughing and sometimes even talking about God.  She was very accepting of me and all the kids, she knew how important it was to “be Christ” to teenagers.  I was forever changed by that relationship.

God used people in the past (see the Bible) and will use people now and in the future to further God’s kingdom.  There is no doubt that we are relational beings.  No matter what kind of personality we have, we need meaningful relationships in order to thrive in this life.  We need people in our lives who will “be Christ” to us.  Without relationships that are centered on Christ it can be difficult to center one’s own life on Christ.  Young people will search out other ways to fill that relational void.  No, I’m not just talking about “being nice to kids.”  While we should be nice to kids, we need to develop faith nurturing relationships with them.  And no, you don’t have to be “cool” or “relevant” to talk to a teenager, you just have to be real and genuine.  You don’t even need to talk much, just let them talk.  They have a lot to teach us adults.  Having this faith-filled support will equip them to walk in Christ’s footsteps into a new world when they graduate from high school.

The Exemplary Youth Ministry study looks at 44 assets that a congregation needs to be most effective in growing maturing Christian young people.  Check out #30-37.

30. Establish Adult-Youth Mentoring: adults engage youth in faith and life supported by informed leadership

31. Participate in Training: evaluate and equip youth and adults for ministry in an atmosphere of high expectations

32. Posses Vibrant Faith: youth and adult leaders possess and practice a vital and informed faith

33. Competent Adult Volunteers: foster authentic relationships and effective practices with youth within a clear vision strengthen by training and support

34. Establishes a Caring Environment: provides multiple nurturing relationships and activities resulting in a welcoming atmosphere of respect, growth, and belonging

35. Develops Quality Relationship: develops authentic relationships among youth and adults establishing an environment of presence and life engagement

36. Focus on Jesus Christ: the life and ministry of Jesus inspires the ministry’s mission, practices, and relationships

37. Considers Life Issues: the full range of young people’s lives is valued and addressed

Do you know teenagers at church, in your neighborhood, at work or in the community?  Do they know you support them?  How have you been called to “be Christ” for them?

Tom Schwolert is Director of Youth & Family Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Flower Mound, TX and has over 22 years of youth ministry experience.

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