One of the best-known traits of adolescence is the development of voice—forming an opinion and making it heard is often associated with the angst of puberty. Some teens struggle to assert their fledgling voice; others are quick to articulate their thoughts and feelings in expressive (and sometimes loud and raw) ways.
Research and experience tell us that developing teens benefit from relationships with several nonparent adults. Our church communities are brimming with authentic adults whose faith grows from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Youth volunteers shouldn’t fit a certain mold: look beyond the young, “fun,” and energetic. Some of the most meaningful moments of connection between youth and adult mentors have resulted from shared time with a variety of volunteers, and especially with those unlikely adults who don’t feel like they have anything to offer to teens.
Invite a variety of guests to sit in with students for Q&A sessions on the following topics that will help them develop unique voices to articulate their own stories.
Our faith stories are as different as our personalities. Some teens may be awaiting a conversion moment, when their story is better described as a steady presence of love and trust. Because we have a God who meets us where we are, we encounter God anywhere and at any time. Shared faith stories validate those experiences for us.
God leads us to a wide range of personal paths. Ask:
- What does God call you to do?
- How did you land in your current job or career?
- What steps did you take to get there? What are your next steps?
There’s more than one way through life, and a linear path is often erroneously advertised to students as “the only way.”
It’s good for all of us to be reminded that we aren’t alone, grappling with questions of faith. Where there are struggles, there is often growth. Invite guests to share times of doubt and how they cope and find hope in Jesus.
When do you feel God’s presence? What allows you to see God’s activity in your own life and the lives of those around you? Who are the people in your life who bring you closer to God? These questions could spark new ideas for your youth.
Avoid the pitfalls of surrounding students with adults who sing a similar tune. Help your young adults develop their own, unique voices by offering a variety of voices from the whole choir of the faithful. Together, we tell a beautiful story of grace.