Effective Ministry is currently researching how ministries might better help children, teenagers and young adults as they manage difficult life and ministry transitions in the movement towards adulthood and maturity in the faith. Andrew Nixon (Principal of Youthworks College) had these helpful suggestions on the ‘Growing Faith’ website as he went about helping his child make the difficult transition to a new youth group.
- We prepared our son by saying that it might take time to make new friends and get fully settled. Maybe this would happen quickly (bonus!) but it usually takes a while, perhaps many months, to break into groups and get established.
- We made attendance a priority and helped him be enthusiastic (even when we didn’t feel like going out to drop him off either). This helped him to form the habit of being there every week; helped him get established more quickly with peers; and helped him develop a ministry mindset (for example, inviting friends to come because he planned to be there).
- We made an effort to meet and get to know the youth leaders, stayed around to chat at drop-off, pick-up etc. We got involved in the meal/supper roster. This all helped us ‘sus out’ the dynamics of what was going on so we could chat to our son about it, and understand the ‘who’, ‘why’ and ‘wherefore’.
- We invited peers over to our home so our son could further develop relationships with kids he clicked with. We also caught up with whole families so the kids could all hang out with a bit less pressure.
- Things like weekends away and social outings were considered a priority for him. These are times of very valuable shared experience for the kids. Missing them is a double-whammy: not only do they miss high value ‘assimilation’ time, but they feel excluded from the inevitable ‘war stories’ once back at the regular group.
If you, or your ministry, have other great thoughts, ideas or suggestions in this area, please post them in the comments or message us here at Effective Ministry.