12 Feb, 2015
There is no greater single factor in a young person's Christian growth than having a mentor.
There is one thing that "irks" me more than anything else and that is a judgmental attitude of older members in the church to our youth and children. The old idea that children should be seen and not heard is still alive and well in some instances, along with the idea that reverence is silence.
I have seen young new mums who are just wanting to hear a sermon ushered out of the sanctuary because their baby is restless. (Some of those mums never come back in).
I have seen a youth member who was hanging in the car park told to either get inside the church or go home. (That youth went home and to my knowledge has never come back).
I have seen children chastised for being a little bit restless in their pew. (Those children have grown up and are not in the church today).
I have seen a family moved out of a pew because that is where I have sat for the past 10 years. (That family moved out of the pew and out of the church as well).
I have seen a young girl called troublesome and a flirt because of the way she was dressed. (That young girl no longer attends either).
I WEEP AND GNASH MY TEETH, AT THE ALTER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH WHO BY AN UNKIND WORD AND ACTION OR A JUDGEMENTAL ATTITUDE HAVE BEEN TURNED AWAY FROM GOD AND HIS CHURCH! THIS MAKES ME ANGRY…REALLY, REALLY ANGRY…..
I GET ANGRY because children often make their decision to accept Jesus as their lord and saviour before they reach their teenage years and this decision often sticks with them for life.
I GET ANGRY because it is natural for adolescents to question and doubt their faith and it is then that they need the patriarchs and matriarchs of the faith to accept then and love them and journey with them.
Just a moment…. just a minute can make or break a child when it comes to their faith. We can either be a positive or negative influence in the life of our children, teenagers and young families and the question I ask is,
"WHAT GOSPEL ARE YOU PREACHING TO THESE PEOPLE BY WHAT YOU SAY AND HOW YOU ACT?"
We can be a positive mentor in the lives of the children and youth in our congregation and it does not need to be overt.
In his doctoral dissertation at Talbot School of Theology, Jason Lanker (Jason Lanker, Unpublished dissertation 2009) demonstrated that adolescents who had natural mentors (“relationships with non-parental adults from whom high school students received support and guidance without the help of a formalized program”) more deeply experienced God’s presence, connected to God in times of suffering, felt realistically accepted by God and were secure in their relationships with Him.
The young adults in this study were so impacted by these natural mentors that the mentors’ influence explained more of the young adults’ spiritual maturity than either how many years they had been Christians or how well their parents had modelled the Christian faith. And apparently, the more mentors they had, the higher the young adult’s score was on Lanker’s spiritual life assessment.
In other words, there is no greater single factor in a young person’s Christian growth than having a mentor.
So that young mother with that crying mother lets get along side her, support her and befriend her.
That youth in the car park? Sit along side him and talk and share, enter into his world. (If you miss a few minutes of the worship service it is worth it for the impact upon that young mans life).
That family in your pew just needs someone to sit alongside them or in front of them and invite them home for lunch afterwards.
Those restless children are the very children that Jesus places at the centre and tells us that they are the greatest. Make sure you sit along side them and tell them how great they are too. Learn their names, welcome them and journey with them for a moment.
And that young lady who is not quite dressed how you would dress, is just searching for someone to love her and accept her because her father never did.
BE THE MENTOR, BE THE MINUTE IN A FAMILY, CHILD, ADOLESCENTS LIFE that changes their life and places them on a faith trajectory of eternal significance.
(Daron gets off his soapbox and mumbling wanders on into the crowded street)