This coming Sunday I am participating in an awareness seminar at my church. Using much of the materials from Chap Clark's book Hurt and from the Parenteen organization we want to expose parents and adults to the world beneath.
Using two main sessions and two breakout sessions we want to introduce the adults to the reality of teenagers lives today, creating attitudes that empathize and then hearts willing to bring the hope and love of Jesus to students.
That last part is where I'm involved. I get to deal with the praxis portion of the afternoon. Taking our intellectual understandings and fleshing out practical steps of action.
Now anyone who has worked with students knows that youth ministry at its core is simple; connecting students with caring adults. That's the relative easy part. How does that look though?
How does that look for parents? for adult mentors? for student leaders?
I like how Richard R. Dunn in his book Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students refers to it. He calls this response by caring adults "pacing"? And I like the imagery. An experienced runner who controls his steps in order to train an novice athlete. Gradually the experience runner ups his tempo and rhythm bring the novice to his superior level.
What I've been wrestling with the last few days is confidence. I often doubt the authority that God has given me. I don't trust that God has placed gifts and a passion for students in my life that peers and other adults respect and appreciate.
Who am I to tell parents how to better love and care for their child?
Who am I to tell peers of mine, who I look up to, better methods of discipleship?
I've been rereading Dunn's book and I came across this passage that I really like.
Leading adolescents toward loving obedience rather than dutiful obligation requires walking alongside their hearts rather than simply teaching them to manage their external behaviors.