We started our Life Teams by recruiting current & former confirmation, mission trip, and Sunday School teachers to agree to join the Life Team that already exists (i.e., parents, godparents, grandparents, confirmation mentors, etc.) in a youth’s life as intentional cheerleader in the faith on behalf of the congregation.
We centered our ministry around these informal relationships that would begin by praying for youth, being their facebook friend, going to their school events, writing a card in the mail, or just saying hello at church a couple times of month.
I provide open-ended conversation starters centered around the characteristics of mature faith. Our hope was to give the Life Team members a greater comfort factor in the life of their relationship with the teen to include conversations about faith along with their regular lives.
But, we found that these relationships needed additional relational capital so that youth didn’t think of these folks as one 9th grader called them “faith stalkers.” Many of the initial pairings failed because we weren’t able to nurture authentic relationships, we didn’t give up — we just knew we needed to invest more time.
So this year, we asked our 9th grade students to have three of these Wendy’s get-togethers as a preparation for their upcoming confirmation. From just those few get-togethers we are starting to see relationships nurtured, faith conversations emerging, and lives walking alongside one another in Christ. There are more challenges and joys to share, and I’ll do that in coming weeks, but we have begun the process of resetting our sights.
Jerry Watts serves as a youth minister in Plano Tx. He’s been at it for about 17 years, depending on what you count. You can catch him blogging about all things youth ministry at http://reformthis.wordpress.com/