In our youth ministry, we’ve worked to intentionally partner students with mature adults through a “mentor a teen” program. This begins by recruiting mature Christian adults to commit to mentoring just one student of the same gender for at least one year (most adults enjoy it so much they continue the relationship throughout the student’s teen years). The requirements of this mentor relationship are practical and fourfold.
First, they are to commit to a weekly, informal, face-to-face encounter. This is a brief, informal, face-to-face encounter in which the adult is able to show care and concern. This can be a simple “how ya doin’?” in the foyer before or after the Sunday service.
Second, adults are to connect with students at least once a month through Facebook, e-mail, a phone call or even a handwritten note. Some adults and students have embraced a journaling method, passing significant thoughts and concerns back-and-forth between mentor and student.
Third, mentors are asked to have a meeting with their students outside of any church program at least three times each year. We believe adults need to have significant adult interaction in order to gain a healthy perspective of adulthood. Therefore, we request that our mentors use the “face-to-face” time to invite students into their own world. This can be taking a teen out for a coke or planning and cooking a meal together with family, going grocery shopping together, or balancing their checkbook.
Finally, we request that adult mentors complete a monthly report - both to keep the mentor accountable as well as to keep lines of communication open between youth pastor and mentor. We believe that significant, intergenerational relationship is absolutely essential to healthy youth ministry. The reporting process is 3 questions that may be answered through our website:
- “Have you connected with your teen this week?”
- “How did it go?”
- “Are there any concerns/questions you have concerning your relationship with your student?”
Additional ideas that can be helpful for this program include a “kickoff” event that serves as a relationship-builder between adult and student, making practical resources available to adult mentors, and an end-of-the-year adult mentor appreciation event.
Rev. Kevin Hancock (‘98)
Pastor to Youth and Families
Shawnee Church of the Nazarene