3 simple ways adults in church can help:
1. Share your life experience.
Your wisdom and experience as an adult are critical. Maybe you made a series of decisions that caused you to begin your career, or you went through a series of difficult relationships prior to finally meeting your spouse. Maybe you had a significant faith experience when you were younger, and it’s been critical in shaping your faith today. When young people hear the life experience of those who are older, it gives them a view of where they could head in their own lives.
As you share these experiences, be cautious not to de-mand that young people walk the same journey you did. Instead, find common ground by focusing on how God has been faithful through each season.
2. Share your struggles and failures.
While it may be easier to share the success you’ve had in life, young people need to know how you’ve strug-gled as well. Maybe you were fired from a job or won-dered if God was real and present. Maybe you lost a marriage, lost a home, or lost a dream. Learning about your struggles can allow young people to feel comforta-ble with you, and perhaps eventually to share their own struggles in life.
As you reflect on your own stories, reflect on where you saw God’s love and forgiveness. Be careful not to shame or judge young people if they make the same mistakes as you with phrases such as “I told you so.” Instead, use your voice to show love, grace, mercy, and compassion. When they open up about their own struggles or disap-pointments, offer in return phrases like, “Tell me more.”
3. Share your faith journey
Sharing your faith journey with a young person could be pivotal in their faith formation. Maybe you didn’t understand prayer when you were younger, but today you have a deep prayer life—let them know how you de-veloped and grew in your practice. Maybe you had a mentor growing up who taught you what passionate faith looked like, or you experienced a deep sense of God’s presence in the midst of adversity.
As you share, be mindful that their expression of faith may look different than yours. Your common ground is finding God at work, in and through all of it.
Reprinted from Fuller Youth Institute—Matthew Deprez