A couple weeks ago I wrote about Chap Clark’s message at the January Series. He urged us to help connect kids with adults who will love them unconditionally. The other day I talked with Tyson Capel, the Director of Youth and Congregational Life at Beckwith Hills CRC. He shared something exciting his church is doing to build faith nurturing relationships between teens and adults.
This fall he asked each high schooler in his church to invite an older member of the congregation to study the book of Acts with them. The teens decide who they would like to ask and then they ask that person to meet with them regularly throughout the school year to study the Bible. If the adult has a method that they usually use for reading and exploring the Bible, they follow that pattern. If not, Tyson has taught the youth how to use the SOAP method, an inductive approach that involves four steps:
- Scripture — read the Bible passage and identify a verse that stands out to you
- Observation — make observations about the passage
- Application — apply the text to your life
- Prayer — pray about the passage and the application
You might think that Tyson announced this program to the whole church and made a big campaign out recruiting adults to get involved. Nope. He did the opposite. He figured, what adult is going to say no to a teen who wants to read the Bible with them? Then he gave the youth freedom to ask whoever they want. Naturally, they chose people who they respect and admire. He didn’t make an announcement because he didn’t want anyone to feel left out if they weren’t asked. He did send a note home to parents to make them aware of the initiative and prepare them to encourage their teen to try again if someone did happen to say no.
Here’s something I found interesting — Tyson said he is careful never to talk about this initiative as a mentoring program. And he never ever uses the word discipleship when he talks about this with teens or adults. Those words, he says, make people feel intimidated. Sure, they’ll read the Bible with a teenager. Sure, they will talk together, listen, share, and pray. But mentor a teenager? Yikes! Disciple a teenager? I’m not qualified!!
Call it what you will, this is a community being intentional about raising kids in faith. It’s a beautiful thing!
What kind of formal or informal mentoring and discipleship is happening at your church?