Part of being a youth pastor is being culturally relevant. Just like adults, teens come from all backgrounds, customs and families. Theyhave also developed all sorts of habits, insecurities and problems. I decided to throw together some tips for becoming more understanding in listening to teens talk about their problems and to also deliver messages that are more involved with their lives.

The Youth Worker’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis – Physical
Emergency Response Handbook for Youth Ministry – Download

TIP #1:  Pay attention to the signs of problems in teenagers. These can include cutting scars and marks on the arms, signs of an eating disorder, depression, poor peer skills and a bad relationship with a parent. Keep in mind that all of these issues are most often the result of a major underlying problem.

TIP #2:  Get to the underlying issue. While we should be concerned and get help for kids that demonstrate the problems signs above, they are much easier to solve if you get to the root of the problem. What is going on inside their hearts to cause them to behave this away? Do they have a sense of abandonment? rejection? Were they mistreated by a someone they trusted? Have they been verbally abused? Though you may not be able to get them to spill their guts in a 20 minute chat, eventually they will likely open up if they feel safe talking to you. Kids want to know how much you care. Take them to lunch, have them over for dinner, etc.

TIP #3:  Point them back to God. No matter how good of a counselor you are, He is THE COUNSELOR. Speak truth into their life and show them how the devil is lying to them. Give them scriptures and pray with them. Remember, if they can grasp hold of the everlasting love of the Father, they will feel liberated.

*Though you should remember that kids need to trust you, some things cannot be kept secret. If a teenager reports being treated illegally, you must handle it according to your state laws.

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