Showing Teens You Care

There is an old cliché in ministry that is as appropriate to teens as any other age group. It is: "People will never care how much you know, until they know how much you care." If there is anything that teens are looking for, it is to be noticed, loved and cared for by an adult. God gave this responsibility primarily to parents but if you are involved in youth work then this is your responsibility as well.

It comes as no surprise to those who minister both junior high and/or senior high young people that church activities face enormous competition from teen jobs, school and other involvements. One advantage church ministry has is that we can "out care" the competing attractions in teen's lives. We can offer what others cannot, a genuine relationship that not only offers acceptance, but the unconditional love of God. If they know we care, they will likely to be present when seek to provide spiritual direction. This advantage alone should lead us to ask the question: do our teens know we care?

Another area that brings up the need for a caring ministry to teens is that as the move to greater levels of independence they look more to peer role models than role models of those in positions of authority over them such as parents, and teachers. If we show we care we can bring ourselves closer to the level of a peer rather than and expert. We through caring take on more the role of a friend than just a teacher or youth leader. Teens look for others or groups of others with which to identify. This identity is found mostly from those among whom they have a sense of belonging. We can foster that sense of belonging by expressing loving care in their lives.


There are many other examples that could be given to show that a caring ministry is needed in youth work but the Bible gives us the supreme mandate to care for others in the Body of Christ. First of all we are commanded to care for others. Philippians 2:4 states, "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." The follower of Christ is not to be self-centered by focused on meeting the needs of others. If we are to be obedient we need to really involve ourselves in the lives of others. Secondly, We not only are commanded to care we are given the perfect example of caring in the ministry of Christ. Many examples could be cited but even causal thought will reveal numerous times He met the needs of others, and showed his love and care for the disciples. The ultimate example, of course was the sacrifice of Himself on the Cross. He, Himself stated that, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13. Lastly, Jesus stated that the proof that we are genuine disciples is our love for one another. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35. If we are going to bring others into the body through faith in Christ we must demonstrate His love among the body.


Showing teens you care need not be a complicated thing. In an effort to get the reader to venture out into new areas of care the following list of ideas is offered. If only a handful are put into practice, we will genuinely let teens know we care. So look over the following list of 40, "showing you care ideas" and strive to put a few into practice right away.

1. Know your teen's names.
2. Know their birthdays and send cards.
3. Offer to help with homework
4. Call just to "talk."
5. Attend school athletic events
6. Open home on Sunday evening for snack and gab time.
7. Attend school functions.
8. Let them look through your high school year book.
9. Ask "what is the Lord doing in your life?"
10. Allow "dumb questions."
11. Ask for a post card while they are on vacation and display them.
12. Send them a postcard while you are on vacation.
13 Have them help you memorize a verse.
14. Let them help you with a project at home or at church.
15. Ask them "How is school going?" and really listen to the answer.
16. Ask about their family and really listen to the answer.
17. Plan activities for them.
18. Give them leadership roles in the youth group.
19. Have them take notes on the Pastor's sermon and compare theirs with yours.
20. Leave a "care package" on their doorstep.
21. Send each a stick of chewing gum in the mail.
22. When they get their drivers license have them take you for a drive.
23. Give them a genuine compliment.
24. Let them help with decision making.
25. Ask their opinion on the issues of the day.
26. Ask them to pray specifically for a need in your life.
27. Tell them when God answers their. prayers (see #26).
28. Keep your promises.
29. Share a blessing with them.
30. Know their favorite ice cream flavor.
31. Be willing to try something new.
32. Have your picture made and give them your "school picture."
33. Carry their school pictures in your wallet or purse.
34. Recognize their achievements.
35. Find the last day of school and count down the days left with them.
36. Let them borrow your books.
37. Let them borrow your CDs and cassettes.
38. Have lunch in the school cafeteria with your teens.
39. Buy McDonalds coupons and give them out for "special occasions."
40. Give them permission to just drop by your place.

If you put some of these into practice you will be amazed at what the Lord will do. As your teens come to know you care they may even come to care how much you know!

Jesse Waggoner
Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

©1997 Calvary Baptist Church