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Loving Tweens/Teens at Restoration Church

A few Sundays ago, a dozen or so kids woke up early to go to church. Upon arrival, some carried in food and supplies while others began setting up tables and chairs throughout the building. Some donned figurative chef hats and began to prepare sausage, pancakes, and yogurt parfaits. Still others made coffee and set up the counter for a breakfast buffet. While most of us adults were still lying in bed at home or waking up sleepy children, the tweens and teens in our church were preparing a gift of fellowship and nourishment for our congregation.  


If someone were to visit our church, they would see (what feels like) a gazillion infants, toddlers, and preschool children running through the halls. We are exploding with young families, and it is wonderful! But if you stick around for a while and pay attention you will also see that what started a few years ago as essentially one family with teenagers has quickly grown. Unlike the younger ages of children, the teens/tweens are not only sitting in the pews on Sunday morning, attending youth group on Sunday night, and participating in Rgroups, but they are also serving our church in almost every capacity. On most Sundays, you will see students in 5th – 12th grades serving on the worship team, manning the sound booth, helping in rkids classrooms, filling communion trays, and cleaning the building after service.

  

Like you, most of them are over-scheduled with lots of demands for their time and tasks they must accomplish each day. I am often in awe of the way our youth show up and serve on a consistent basis. Considering that they are teenagers with still developing brains and a proclivity to sleeping in, I am inspired by their dedication to be an active part of our church. 


Since our youth ministries (56 degrees and rStudents) congregate for peer-based discipleship and learning on Sunday nights, it can be easy to forget that they also need to be served. More importantly, they need adults who are willing to walk alongside them. I would argue that having adults at church who are invested in the lives of teenagers is just as important as serving younger children in rkids. Teenagers naturally begin to question their world, their religion, the world-views they have been taught and the rules they have known since infancy. They begin to question how they fit into all of it. Statistically, this is the age when many people walk away from the church, their faith, and Jesus. It's imperative that teenagers are given the opportunity to challenge and question their faith. It’s also vital they learn to grow in their faith alongside caring adults who are willing to invest in their lives. Teenagers need adults who want to teach, mentor, model, and encourage spiritual growth amidst their real world lives.  


I want to encourage our church to see these 5th-12th grade students in our midst. Get to know them. Find out their interests and passions. When you see them serving at church, tell them thank you and ask them about what’s happening in their lives. Is there a game or activity you could attend once over the next few months? Pray for them. Their lives are full of challenges, and they need others praying for them. Is there one or two students you could commit to praying for regularly?  


Consider serving them as valued members of the body. Six months ago, my husband and I began to serve in the rStudents ministry on Sunday nights. Could you devote one or two Sunday nights a month to volunteering at 56 degrees and/or youth group? Consider if you have a skill or knowledge related to one of our teens’ interests and offer to teach them or guide them in that area. My biggest challenge (and one that I am praying about) is discipling a teen. Ask God if there is a tween/teen in our church that He would like you to disciple and mentor on a regular basis. I am the mother of a teenager that is currently being mentored by a woman from our church. I cannot stress enough the comfort it brings me to know that she has another person on her team to care for her heart, pray for her, get to know her, and model and encourage her faith.  


My prayer is that after you read this, you will feel inspired to “see”, serve, and encourage the tweens/teens who enter the doors of Restoration Church.  


Written by Jessica Delp 

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