Eric and I have been talking, thinking, and praying the past few weeks about investments. Not the money kind… but what it means to invest in youth. We have three friends right now struggling with their junior high boys. It is so not easy — there are no easy solutions or “how tos.” One of these young friends, who is Japanese and lives in Sanda, has been struggling for some time, and stopped attending our church awhile ago. Eric has been taking him out every Tuesday night for English and mentoring. I realized that except for his parents, Eric is the only Christian adult who has been investing in his life in any real way.I have been thinking about an article that I read recently from Fuller Seminary’s Theology, News, and Notes on youth ministry (Fall 2007 by Kara Powell). Powell talks about a unique insight from Fuller professor Chap Clark related to youth ministry and adult/student ratio. “For the past several decades, youth workers have tried to maintain approximately a 1:5 ratio with students, meaning one adult for every five students. Chap suggests we turn tha ratio on its head and mobilize five adults to invest themselves into each teenager.”Powell goes on to elaborate on what that might look like: “That doesn’t mean each teenager gets five new Bible study or small group leaders. Rather it urges all adults to survey their neighborhoods and churches and prayerfully discern how to encourage the teenagers that are in their daily paths. Maybe it’s asking teenagers how they can be praying for them, and then following up the next week to see how the Lord is working. Or maybe it’s paying for a teenager to go to camp or helping a kid learn how to change a tire. Simply knowing a teenager’s name has been shown to positively influence that student (not to mention that adult and his or her church).”We’re so thankful for the community that we have around us here… Our children have some wonderful “aunties” and “uncles” who already speak into their lives. We’re not really interested in living somewhere if this isn’t the case –it’s a high value of ours wherever God might call us. But we keep asking ourselves who are the youth that God is putting in front of us who need us to speak into their lives… and how we can help our church, and our mission, build better community and be committed to the health of our youth. Not easy questions; but pretty essential investments.
3 thoughts on “Investments”
I just read that same article this week! And it encouraged me to spend any time at all that I can with our great youth at church! Even if I am not the youth leader.
I, too, was impressed with the article that you have cited …I work with college students and nearly every one I’ve gotten to spend time with are seeking mentors and deeply desire input into their lives. I don’t remember this being so much the case when I was a college student (although I was happy to have friends on faculty/staff, I think I had relatively few).
As a mentor, Bible study leader, and friend I feel I get back much more than I can ever possibly give …it’s been a great blessing.
As I become more aware of how the youth in Japan, especially male youth, are falling into darkness, my heart has grown heavey for them. I will continue to pray and if you think that the Cerriots team could help in some way other than prayer, please let me know.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.