How To Respond When The World Gets Your Teen’s Attention

I’m sure I’m not the only youth minister that had the Rapture come up in their small group discussion this past week.  Didn’t matter if I wanted to talk about it with my students or not, they did, so we did.  Obviously, some of our students were visibly upset due to the emotions and intensity that surround the subject.  Some times there will be events that happen locally and globally that will challenge you as a youth minister to throw your plans out the window.  So how do you respond?

  • Gather Information – If it’s a local event make sure it’s not gossip. For example if a child in the community dies and the rumor is suicide, investigate with schools, parents, etc. before you publicly announce the news you’ve heard.  You’ll turn off a lot of people if you make an incorrect comment.
  • Survey The Community – How you respond depends on the mood of the community.  Are they upset, lost, confused, angered, etc.?  It will help you know the intensity of the situation, so that you don’t overlook or overblow it.
  • Prep Your Team – Best thing to tell your leaders, “Let the students speak, listen to them.”  We may be called by God to love students, but we can’t be experts on everything out there.  Most times in moments of crisis students just want to know they are being heard.
  • Put Plans Aside – I’ve found more times than not what we were going to speak about in program is closely related; however, it’s important not to force your agenda.  Our job as ministers is to guide and mentor the next generation, not make them into our soap box crowd.
  • Follow Up – Identify students who may need further counseling and hook them up with the proper resources.  Discussion of subjects can’t always be a one time deal.  Follow up with parents, follow up with ministers, don’t be afraid to direct people to further help.

When tragedy happens, when something globally is getting their attention it’s important to respond swiftly; however, with much prudence.  To prepare for these situations it’s good to surround yourself with ministers, parents and other adults in the community that can give you the correct information and resources.  It’s times like these will bring a whole new crop of students into your ministry.
How do you respond when the world gets your teens attention?

How do you prepare for times like these?  Please comment.

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  • Heather says:

    Wow. “Our job as ministers is to guide and mentor the next generation, not make them into our soap box crowd.” Often time I find myself doing that. Great advice.

  • Heather,
    I’m guilty of that too, I’ve had to work hard to slow it down before I respond. Thanks for your feedback.