Mentoring Children & Youth
School started a couple of weeks ago for us. One afternoon as I was talking with my kids about it I was reminded of something that took place in the church I grew up in (as I am sure it does in most every church). It happened each year when those youth who had been leading the group graduated and moved on. At the start of that ‘new year’ there was a hole their absence left and a need for new leadership, new examples, new mentors to fill the vacuum that these Seniors left. We do need those who can live out a model of what we are to talk and act like, individuals who are helping those who come behind to find the way, and those who care enough to make time to pray and act to nurture others. So as the new school year begins I invite you to think about the ways that your congregation mentors or how they might provide that encouragement, support, knowledge and inspirations. Here are some possible ways that might happen:
*In youth and children’s groups talk to older youth/children about how to be an example and to help those younger or coming behind. Build a sense of caring and responsibility for those younger.
*Create a mentoring program in which older kids support and mentor others. Be sure to provide training and an avenue for questions and direction for the mentors.
*Link up mentors (perhaps Elders) for those being baptized. They could meet with them to talk about the meaning of baptism, answer spiritual questions, and help them on their journey.
*Create a prayer mentor program in which church members agree to pray (at least weekly and hopefully daily) for a particular school aged child. They don’t have to meet or do other things, but they might want to make a contact to see if there are any special needs or prayer requests. Or the requests could be done through an anonymous channel and passed along to the particular prayer mentor.
*Look for one time mentor situations where you can plug people with particular skills in. For instance, those who have makeup, etiquette, ballroom dance skills, etc. could help mentor High School students around prom time.
*Identify those in the congregation who could tutor in particular subjects for kids needing it. This could be on an ongoing basis or a single sessions. We had a man who had taught college statistics and connected easily with high school students. As a result he was able to help several with their coursework. History, math, English and more are areas where many parents could use help in supporting their kids as they do their homework and answering their questions. Maybe have a ‘hotline’ format where you could call those with expertise with questions.
*Create ‘non-blood grandparents’. Many elementary schools have grandparent’s day. For several reasons there are kids who do not have a grandparent present on those days. I remember volunteering during one event and offered to be the grandparent of a child and the joy in those eyes was amazing. We also had non-blood friends who adopted our kids on those days and their gift was very special to our kids and to use as parents.
*What other mentoring ideas do you see possible in your setting to bless the children and youth?