The Role of an Adult in the Life of a Teenager

The Role of an Adult in the Life of a Teenager

janas

Today’s guest post comes from one of our favorites,  Jana Spooner.  Jana worked with FUGE for 12 years, and now serves as an associate publisher of women’s books with B&H Publishing Group at LifeWay. Jana is wife to Michael, mom to Abigail, and student ministry volunteer at Central Baptist Hendersonville, TN. She loves all things Texas, coffee, and mexican food.

 

I have spent most of my adult life working with teenagers in some capacity. Sometimes that was Sunday school teacher. Sometimes it was camp staffer. Sometimes it was mentor, worship leader, chaperon, host home mom, lock-in supervisor, homework helper, you name it. I love them.

I love how awkward they are in middle school and how they literally do not stop moving. Ever.

I love how they think they know everything one day and the next day the whole world is a blank slate again.

I love how dramatic they are. Seriously. They are dramatic because everything is important to them. EVERYTHING is SUPER IMPORTANT! Like, OMG…

I love getting texts from them where I have to enlist google to decipher what all the abbreviations mean…IDK what UR talking about…

I’ll be the first one to admit that I feel like an unlikely candidate for student ministry. Suffice it to say, I am not cool. In fact, I am pretty much the opposite of cool. I am not loud or crazy. I’m not silly. I dress conservatively and am fairly reserved most of the time. My kid goes to bed at 8:00 on the dot so my idea of “night life” is limited to Netflix or a good book. And I am perfectly ok with that!

Not only am I not cool, I’m a rule enforcer. At camp, I knock on your door at 6:45 a.m. to make sure you will make it to breakfast on time. I make you drink water and eat vegetables. I don’t let you go back for a second bowl of ice cream. I will shush you.

I don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m cool and that’s why teenagers would like me. So why would they? Because I’m an adult. And they need adults. They need their parents, first and foremost. But even when their parents are godly and loving, they still need other adults. They need people who will love them the way Christ loves them. They need to see what it looks like to live out your faith in your 20′s, 30′s, 40′s and so on. They need to see that a relationship with Christ extends beyond the walls of the church.

They don’t necessarily need a buddy. They have friends speaking all kinds of messages into their lives every day. They don’t need more of that. They need adults who will speak truth. And who will listen. And love them and value them. That’s why it’s ok that I’m not cool. I don’t need to be. That’s not my role. My role is to model a life fully lived for Christ and the Gospel and to spur them on to do the same.

Be Real

Be Real

AndyBAndy Buckwalter served as a FUGE Bible study leader at Ridgecrest last summer. He currently serves as the Director of Youth Ministry at Crux Youth Ministry. Andy and his wife, Leann, reside in York, Pennsylvania. He has a degree in Youth ministry from Messiah College. Interesting fact about Andy: He once punched a fish underwater because it bit him!

 

Some of us have lived it. All of us have dreaded it. I’m talking about an all too familiar scenario. You are in Bible study, or youth group, and a teenager in the back raises his hand and asks “that” question. The question you went to great lengths to avoid during this Bible study, the one you have been avoiding like the plague for one simple reason. You don’t know the answer.

Now, as the room temperature steadily increases, you have several options. Option one, you can come up with some weak “Sunday school” answer and try to fake your way around it, without actually answering the question and get back to what you wanted to talk about. Option two, disregard their question by saying it is off topic, and say, “we can talk about that another time,” with no intention of doing so. Option three, you throw a bunch of big words at them that you are sure they do not know what they mean (and neither do you). Or option four, fake a heart attack.

But there is another option, and it is one we often forget: Just be real with them. It is ok to say, “I don’t know”. Believe it or not, not knowing everything there is to know about God will not cause you to lose their respect. In fact, being so open with them will gain more respect from them. A technique I have used in the past is to say, “That is a great question. I don’t have an answer for it. What do you guys think?” Turn the question back to the group. Let them discuss it. Feel free to say what you think, but listen first. Be real with them. Some of my best evenings with youth have started with a question that I could not answer, and ended with them dialoguing together about our Lord. Isn’t that what we want?

So the next time this happens, let’s not worry about our pride and how intelligent we look, but rather look to the opportunity God has presented us with.

When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say – Luke 12:11-12

Diagnosed For A Purpose

Diagnosed For A Purpose

 

Rachel Patton bio thumb

Rachel Patton served as a FUGE Bible study leader for two years: 2010 at Carson-Newman and 2013 at North Greenville. She is currently working on master’s degree in Christian Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Rachel loves the Phoenix desert, Sonic diet coke w/vanilla, and being spontaneous.

 

Watching God work through my life is by far my favorite part of working camp. As a Bible study leader for two summers, I saw God use my story and my past experiences to impact the lives of students, relate to students, and open doors for great conversation. When I was ten years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It has been a struggle over the last 15 years but has taught me so much about relying on God and his provision. I always knew that I had been diagnosed for a purpose. God has a bigger plan than my own and it has been so cool to see that unfold.

While working FUGE in 2010, we had a diabetic student one week and I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with her. Throughout the lunch, it became apparent that she had blamed God for her diagnosis and was angry with Him. I was humbled by the opportunity to talk with her about God’s plan and purpose for her life, the truth that He knows what is best and that trusting Him will far exceed our expectations. I got to listen to her, share life with her, and pray with her. Later that week, her youth pastor approached me and said that she opened up and shared her struggles with her youth group that night.

I was able to have similar experiences my second summer working FUGE in 2013. Students with diabetes in my Bible study, having one on one conversations, speaking with adults and parents of kids with diabetes, and simply sitting down to check my blood sugar with a student so they wouldn’t feel so alone. God had a plan when I was diagnosed with diabetes all those years ago, and it has far exceeded my expectations. I am so grateful for the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of these other diabetics and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Isn’t it good to serve a God who knows what He’s doing?!

The Grace Gift

The Grace Gift

AnneBrunner1

Annie Bruner is today’s guest blogger. Annie served this past summer as a MFuge track leader at Belmont University. Annie is currently studying Psychology at Kennesaw State University, with only five classes left to complete. You are likely to find her drinking vanilla milkshakes, watching Duck Dynasty, or daydreaming about the day she can finally meet one of her favorite people, Julie Andrews.  

 
Before working M-Fuge, I had never had an encounter with a homeless person.  I live in Atlanta, so I was aware that homelessness was an issue, but I usually ignored it.  If they were homeless or addicted to drugs or alcohol, they were someone else’s problem.  Certainly not mine.

This summer, I served at the Nashville Rescue Mission with my students.  At first, I was nervous.

Surely God doesn’t want me to tell these people the gospel

It turns out, I ended up having the gospel preached to ME this summer.  Most men that I encountered were a part of the Mission’s Life Recovery Program for addictions.  The Program aims to help men get their lives back on track, but also presents them with the life-altering beautiful truth of Jesus’ grace.

The first person in the Program that I met was not much older than me.  He had struggled with drug addiction for several years until he ended up at the Nashville Rescue Mission.  It was there that the Lord rescued him not only from his addictions, but also his brokenness. This man, who was once identified by his struggles, now finds his identity in Christ ALONE!

The more time I spent at the Nashville Rescue Mission, the more the Lord began to transform my heart.  I met countless people who had surrendered their brokenness to the Lord and were living fully in the grace that Jesus has to offer.  I began to think about the implications of grace in my own life.

The Lord showed me that there is nothing I can do to earn his grace.

Ephesians 2 says that we have been saved by grace through faith, and that grace is a gift from God.  I realized how often I tried to work my way into grace—I thought that if I did more good works, God would love me more.  However, the men of the Nashville Rescue Mission were a beautiful picture of God’s gift to us.  They had literally nothing to offer God, but He rescued them and made them into His masterpieces anyway.

A Life-Altering Experience

A Life-Altering Experience

madison bio

Today’s Guest post is from Madison Newberry, who served this past summer as a Student Leader Apprentice at MFuge Nashville.  Madison is originally from Prattville, AL and is currently a freshman studying at Mississippi College in Clinton, MS.

 

By God’s abounding grace and blessings, I was given the opportunity to attend FUGE Camps’ Student Leadership Apprentice (SLA) program during the summer of 2013 in Nashville, TN at Belmont University. As time approached to go to camp, I became more and more anxious about the whole idea of going to a foreign place where I knew absolutely no one. But, I am so glad I did!

The first week of SLA was life changing. The Lord put me in a place of complete uncertainty, and for the first time in my life, I was at total peace with that. Through various leadership activities, the Lord taught me how to be intentional, how to see everyone through the eyes of Jesus, and how to put my full trust in Him. Having the chance to witness the amazing wonders of God through such unforeseen activities and to be able to share these life-altering experiences with my SLA group and the Nashville community was awesome.

The second week of SLA was all about serving others for the glory of God. After I was assigned a staffer to shadow for the week, I began to understand how to implement what God had revealed to me during the first week into my everyday life.  God allowed for me to be intentional with many different people in the Nashville community and to see those people through the eyes of Christ. The staffer I was assigned to was such an example of what it truly means to live for the Lord, and I cannot thank God enough for allowing our paths to cross.

SLA was easily the best experience I have ever had. Not only was it fun and adventurous, but the Lord also enabled me to serve others for His glory during my two weeks at camp. I was able to be His hands and feet serving the city of Nashville. I cannot thank Him enough for giving me such an incredible experience and blessing me with the most amazing group of girls who are now my best friends. My life will be forever changed because of my experiences with SLA.

For more information about SLA, click here: http://lfwy.co/14s6dpQ

FUGE Night Life

 

 

SLA group MN