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BLESSing the Teens in Your Life by Rob Haynes

Teens having a conversation.

Early on in my walk with Jesus, I felt a strong call to minister to youth and young adults. I earned a degree in education, in part, to be the best Bible Study teacher that I could be. I crafted lessons with textbook precision. However, the professors at the university did not fully prepare me for the complexities of the spiritual journeys of the young adults in the ministries where I served. What they needed was not just my well-crafted lesson plans, but someone who could share with them in the journey of discipleship.

Sharing faith with teens can be a scary thing for some adults. Many times, it feels like there are walls between adults and teens. However, like people of any age, teens desire an authentic relationship with someone who genuinely cares about them. They want the adults around them to be themselves, while seeking to understand the struggles they are experiencing. When approached this way, many young adults are open to hearing about how Jesus can help them, at the very least, make sense of an increasingly complex world. It is easy to say that, but sometimes much more difficult to do. So, where do you begin? The familiar BLESS acronym can be a great place to start.

B is for “Begin with Prayer.” Every attempt at reaching out to someone else in the Name of Jesus should begin with prayer. We know that the Holy Spirit is already at work in the life of the other person and in the situation you will enter with that person. Pray that God will open the hearts and spiritual eyes of everyone involved.

L is for “Listen.” As the saying goes, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Listening to someone in love and compassion is one of the best ways to show care and concern. Genuine listening shows people that they are not a project to be completed or something to be fixed. Rather, it shows that you truly want to be a part of their lives.

E is for “Eat.” There is something profound about sharing a meal with someone else. It opens doors of conversation, makes emotional connections, and builds community. Invite teens and their friends to share a meal with you and make some of their favorite foods. Be sure to sit with them during the meal and show them that you care enough to be in close proximity with them. You may be surprised at the deep connections that can be made over something as simple as sharing a meal.

S is for “Serve.” When you have been a part of someone’s life in a prayerful manner, listening to their heart, and sharing meals with them you will begin to see areas in which you can serve them. Maybe it is providing supplies for school, an outfit for an interview, or a ride when parents are unavailable. It may be something as simple as showing up for a game, recital, or presentation. Never underestimate the power of your service in the Name of the Lord. God will use it in mighty ways.

S is for “Share.” When God opens doors, share the story of Jesus and how he has worked in your life. It would be a shame to shy away from sharing the Good News of the gospel now that you have built a strong relationship with these young adults. When you have followed these other steps, you are likely to discover new points of connection with the teens in your life. As you share your faith, a good place to start are those areas where your story connects with theirs. Tell them what Jesus has done in your life in a natural and authentic way. Then, let God use it. It doesn’t have to be forced. Remember that God is much more invested in the lives of every person with whom you share your faith. He will bring the return on that investment in His wisdom and timing.

BLESS is a great way to guide your ministry with teens. Please hear me: I am not discounting the need to carefully prepare quality lessons for youth and young adults. We need to honor God and the people in our ministry with the best we can offer. At the same time, we cannot hide behind the proverbial classroom podium. Authentic faith-sharing means walking alongside others as they ask questions. Jesus shows us this in his teaching to Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 32): “They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’” In the same way, walk the road with teens and talk with them, opening the Scriptures to them. As you BLESS them, may the Lord set their hearts on fire.