Shepherding and Discipling Teenagers
One of my questions that I’ve always had is why do adults feel nervous around teenagers? We can all admit that teenagers tend to be more impulsive, tend to be a little bit more loud, and teens absolutely love to hang out and play. There seems to be very different types of maturity levels between the grades of 6-12. Why is this?
We can look through the common grace of the study of neuroscience as to why adults may feel nervous about teenagers. Why would adults try to stay away from teenagers as much as they can? Why teenage parents are constantly stressed out? Neuroscience studies have shown that the rational part of a teen’s brain is not fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so. Does this make a little more sense why adults may feel nervous about teenagers? Why teenagers are a little bit more impulsive? As the Student Pastor at The Lakes Church, this is the framework in which I shepherd our students here and this is what I hope to equip our parents at The Lakes Church with.
Adults, we think with the prefrontal cortex. We often times think of the consequences of the action before we then make the action. Teenagers often times do not think or respond to situations with good judgment and with the possible negative outcomes in the long-term. Stanford Children’s Health states that “Teenager’s brains are still developing connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center of the brain, and these two things are still developing and not always at the same rate.”
This is why risk taking is more often prone in teenagers. My hope and pray through this blog is to help us understand how we are to shepherd teenagers within our church. The need is parents and church members who are older within the congregation to be willing to hang out and shepherd with our students at The Lakes. Teenagers need the calming factor of mature Christian adults who do have a more calming decision and logical demeanor to help guide teenagers through this life stage. Sure it takes a lot of energy to shepherd and disciple teenagers, but may this help us remember that we were once them at one point.
Action plan for parents/guardians/student pastors:
- Help our students to slow down and to not make impulsive actions and to be surrendered to the Holy Spirit and abide in Jesus through the Word of God.
- Help our students be affirmed in their identity in Christ and that they are loved and affirm them that they are loved by you.
- Be interested in student’s lives. What I found about shepherding teenagers is that it is more about being presence and earning the right to be heard. Often times if teenagers feel as if you are not truly interested in them, then often the teaching and advice that you give them often blows over.
- Listen to teenagers feelings and thoughts and don’t disregard their feelings and negate their feelings by telling them that they are teenagers and that they are too young to be stressed. Listen and hear their hearts and shepherd their hearts through their troubles and worries. Help them to understand the firm foundation of Christ and His Word and make decisions based upon the leading of the Holy Spirit and what the Word of God would consider wise.
I want to encourage us from Titus 2:1-8
“But as for you, teach what accords with sound[a] doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
May we be serious about disciple-making within our church and within our homes.