The 10 TED Talks every youth leader should watch (1)

I love TED talks. They’re often inspiring, challenging and it’s a quick and easy way to get fresh perspectives and new ideas.

For youth leaders, TED talks are a brilliant resource. I’ve truly learned a lot by watching a few talks each month and in this post, I want to share my favorites with you. Here are the 10 TED talks that every youth leader should watch:

1. Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability

This is the ultimate TED talk in my opinion. It’s brilliant, it’s funny, it’s personal and it will completely change your perspective and paradigm. Literally life changing.

[Read more…]

How to tell your youth leader you’re pregnant

Dear pregnant teen girl...God loves you, no matter what you've done and He's there for you every step of the way.

One of the things in my blog statistics I love looking at, are the search terms people used to find my site. Every now and then there are some interesting, funny, sad or shocking ones and I figured I’d share some of them with you while at the same time try to give answers.

This one appeared in my search terms this week: how to tell your youth leader you’re pregnant. This is one of those search terms that makes me kind of sad, because you can feel there’s a story here. Somewhere on this earth, there’s a pregnant teenage girl scared to death because she has to tell her youth leaders that she’s pregnant. Something that in most churches does not go over well.

I’ve written about handling a teenage pregnancy in your youth group, which is probably why this search term was successful in finding my blog. But let’s try and give some advice to a pregnant teen who is scared to tell her youth leader she’s pregnant.

Dear pregnant teen girl…God loves you, no matter what you’ve done and He’s there for you every step of the way.

[Read more…]

Helping teens deal with difficult situations at home

Some of our teens face a really difficult situation at home. How can we help them deal with this?

There’s no such thing as a perfect family, but some of our teens face a more difficult situation at home than others. Their parents are divorced, they’re growing up in a single parent family, they’re part of a complicated family structure with step- and half-siblings, you name it. Or they have to deal with unsupportive parents who are not doing a good job in raising them, who take their own frustrations out on their kids.

How do we help our teens to deal with difficult situations like this with their parents? Is there anyway we can help them, equip them? Can we in anyway compensate for what they miss out? Here are some of my thoughts.

1. Help them understand

While it’s certainly not their task to be the adult in the relationship, it does help if teens understand their parents better. That means we may need to take the time to explain difficult family dynamics, or educate them on the effects of for instance divorce or loss.

We need to be careful not to condone any negative behavior, but we can try to make the teen aware that there are reasons for it. Also, it’s important to realize that this is especially tough for younger teens who have a hard time understanding abstract concepts and emotions, so make it as clear and concrete as you can.

If we can help teens understand their parent(s) better, it’s a good first step in coming up with a constructive approach to the situation.

Some of our teens face a really difficult situation at home. How can we help them deal with this?

[Read more…]

5 messages teens need to hear

Words matter and there are words teens need to hear from us as youth leaders.

Words are of more importance than we often realize. Words can wound, maybe even kill, but they can also affirm and build up. What we as youth leaders tell our teens matters. The words we use can make a difference. Here are 5 messages teens need to hear from us as youth leaders:

1. God loves you, no matter what

This is the most important truth of them all and one that we should keep repeating every single time we talk to teens. No matter what you have done, no matter what you will do, God will always love you. He loves you even if you’re the biggest sinner that ever walked the face of the earth. He loves you when your depressed and cutting yourself, he loves you when you’re having sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend, he loves you when you’re angry all the time, he loves you whether you’re gay or straight or confused…There is absolutely nothing you could ever do that would make God stop loving you. Let’s tell teens that and affirm them in God’s love for them again and again.

teens

[Read more…]

Is it okay to mentor someone from the opposite sex?

If you decide to mentor someone from the opposite sex, always meet in a public place

A while back we had an interesting question going on with a group of youth workers on Twitter. One youth worker asked if we thought it was okay for her to mentor a male youth from her youth group. There was no one else available, yet her church had a problem with it. It was interesting to see everyone wrestle with this issue, because we all understood the risks, yet we also understood the urgency of him needing a mentor.

Is it okay to mentor someone from the opposite sex? It’s a hard question to answer, but here’s my answer: yes, it’s okay to mentor or coach someone from the opposite sex, but…And here come the ‘buts’ in the form of questions:

Is anyone else available?

I think we can all agree that same-sex mentoring or coaching is preferable. So if anyone else is available from the same sex and there are no pressing arguments why that person shouldn’t become mentor, that person should do it.

If you decide to mentor someone from the opposite sex, always meet in a public place

[Read more…]

What to do with a teen pregnancy in your youth group

teenage pregnancy

It’s a tough one this week, the question of the week. Last week I got into contact with a British youth worker who was wondering how to approach the situation of a teen in her youth group being pregnant. I figured it was a good topic to write a bit about, since unfortunately it’s something we can all encounter. What do you need do when a teen in our youth group is pregnant?

There are a few practical things to consider and then there’s the more emotional and pastoral stuff. Let’s start with a few practical guidelines you’ll need to remember when dealing with a teenage pregnancy in your youth group:

Know the law

It’s important first of all, to know your legal obligations. Unfortunately, not all teen pregnancies are caused by voluntary sexual relations between teens. That means your knowledge of the pregnancy can have legal ramifications. Are you obliged to report it if the pregnancy turns out to be caused by rape, incest, or from sex with an adult? Know the law so you can do the right thing and be honest about this with the teen(s) involved.

Don’t promise confidentiality

While confidentiality between youth workers and teens is crucial, a pregnancy is not something you should promise to keep a secret. Sure, you can give the teen a week or so before telling her parents because she may need some time to think about how to do this, but don’t ever promise to keep it confidential. You can’t and you shouldn’t, this is something the parents should know and be involved in.

Seek help

If you know you’re in over your head, seek help. There are people who deal with this on a professional basis and who can give you information, help, and support. Don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself, if it’s too much or too big for you, it’s in everyone’s interest that you seek help and/or let someone else handle it.

[Read more…]

Peer groups and peer influence: does it matter?

What influence do peer groups have on teens? How do we deal with this in youth ministry?

It’s Friday and that means it’s time for another round of the youth ministry question of the week. Do you have a question about youth ministry that you would like to see discussed? Leave a comment or send me an email!

This week’s question involves the issue of a peer group. This is what Jenni wrote about her teen group:

How much does peer group matter and can we overcome the ‘problem’ of not having a peer group within our small youth group? We have a group of about 6 or 7 from age 11-16 and none of them really relate very well to each other, despite most of them having been in the same church most of their lives!

What influence do peer groups have on teens? How do we deal with this in youth ministry?

 

[Read more…]