Earning the Trust of Teens in Four Not So Easy Steps

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One of my favorite ministries in Australia had to be a Religious Education class teaching fifth and sixth graders in a Public School.

There were numerous challenges to this ministry; The greatest challenge however was earning their trust….

I’m grateful to say by our last class (in the picture above) I had earned their trust and respect, but it was a long hard process. As a ministry to others who work with teenagers some of the most important lessons learned along the way are included in this post.

1. Be Honest: The first time we met, one of the boys asked “have you ever swore in your life?” After trying to change the subject he looked me right in the eyes and said in a very serious tone “answer the question”

Instead of trying to lie about it I confessed to using bad language a few times in my life, but confessing it to the Lord right away. His next question was “why did you do that?” and it led to a conversation about the Gospel

2. Be Answering: Teens have hundreds of questions about God and few people who will actually answer them. The Lord used a simple exercise that asked the students to write down questions they had for God to teach me this.

While most students wrote a few lines one girl started writing furiously and kept going after the others were finished. When she handed me her paper I had to take a picture of it to remind me of the need to answer their deep questions.

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3. Be Effective-I don’t care how crazy a group of kids is, there will always a way to motivate them. Shouldn’t be
surprising that giving a candy bar to the best behaved student allowed me to control eight teenagers (it also worked for eighteen kindergartners by the way.) The important thing is bringing a form of structure or discipline into their lives in a way that works, since many of them don’t have it.

wpid-img_03302-2014-02-24-19-40.jpg4. Be Listening: As important as the lesson is, there were moments in class when the Lord allowed me to learn about, or minister to a students deeper need. This meant having more than one conversation with students who were no longer BFF’s and immersing myself in teen girl drama for the sake of the Gospel, it also meant helping a student who was moving to another Country and would never see her friends again understand God was still Loving.

The road to earning trust is long and hard…that’s why so many people haven’t traveled it. However if your willing to put in the hard work God will give you a powerful influence in their lives.

Published by

John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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