I like to think that I don't buy into the hype; however, I've been known to become an instant fan of a few restaurants, movies and bands. I don't know what it is, but I go from skeptic customer to sold out advocate. When this happens I become a little of a spaz. I tell my friends, my family and will even post it on Twitter, claiming my allegiance. But, then reality settles in or I come across the next big thing and the excitement is gone.
Too many times this has happened with teens visiting my ministry. They are new to the faith and something we did was awesome and life changing. Where's the problem, right? Well, a few weeks later after bombarding their Facebook wall with "SOLD OUT FOR JESUS" lines, they've disappeared. It's like the excitement, enthusiasm and craziness have all subsided and the teen is faced with the reality that:
FAITH ISN'T ALWAYS EASY
You and I know that, and we want the teens to know that; however, if you aren't Hooking Them Up In Relationships
, then you will loose them. That's because relationships are a key factor for bringing your teens back to your church. If relationships are strong and fundamental to your ministry; not only will you see growth, but life change as well. But it's isn't about forming any old relationship, you need one that's going to help out this "I'm crazy about this guy Jesus, but have no clue how He works in my life"
teen. When a new teen "on fire for Christ"
comes to your church make sure you surround them with relationships that:
- Listen - If you don't listen to someone, eventually they'll ignore you. We all want to know that someone is listening, and a teen who has just met Christ has a lot on their heart. Whether it's small groups or one on one you need to give teens an environment to vent and share. If they are listened to, they feel valued.
- Guide - The reason certain teens come to your group is because they are looking for value and purpose. To discover that God loves and values them they need guidance. At this point they know that God loves them, that He has called them; however, how to live that out isn't quite clear. They have a lot of questions, a lot of concerns and they need someone they can trust to give them direction.
- Reach Out - As soon as they connect with Christ, Satan is going to push back. On top of the spiritual battles happening in their lives they are going to face obstacles and excuses that will kill the joy that God is giving them. You need to give them adults and teens who are going to reach out when they are missing. You need to let them know that if they get lost, that you (like Christ) will search for them.
It can be exciting and nerve racking to have a new teen in your ministry, ready to give it to the Lord. It's all about helping them focus on the journey ahead while they keep their excitement. While you might be able to handle a teen here or there, you need to make sure that you have adults and teen leaders who will also share this burden. By creating relational ministry you allow teens to be loved, supported and nurtured to grow in their faith. New or old, it's what's going to keep them there and help them go deeper in faith.
How do you handle newly "sold out" teens for Christ?