Why your mentor is not good enough.

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You may have a good mentor.

You may have a great mentor.

You may have the world’s best mentor.

However, I have bad news for you.  Your mentor is not good enough.

I believe in mentoring relationships.  Well, I actually believe in symbiotic relationships which better expresses the mutual benefits of the relationship.  I also prefer the word discipleship (2 Timothy 2:2), but since neither of those words are trending, I will stick with the word mentor (imagine your favorite sad emoji – here).

Here are four reasons why your mentor is not good enough.

The instability of life.

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The geographical instability of Emerging Adults causes instability in many other areas of life including: income, living situations, and relationships.  Distance affects our relationships, and it doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder.  While relationships can continue long distance, you can’t get a hug online.  Make sure you have multiple healthy relationships in case your life (or their life) makes a sudden left turn.

Your mentor is not fully equipped to meet all your needs.

I am high maintenance.  Ask my mentors.  Ask my wife.  Ask my friends.

The good news for them is that I am worth it.

And so are you.

One individual cannot possibly meet all your needs. Even the best mentors are limited in their own skills, knowledge, and bandwidth. There are people who perform some elements of what mentors do, while failing altogether in other elements.  (Parks 2000)  We all have various needs which may include:  social, vocational, relational, financial, and academic. Take time to reflect and understand the depths of your needs and identify several individuals who can support you.

Your mentor doesn’t have the time to meet your needs.

We all live under time constraints, and have a limited network of relationships.  While our mentor may want to spend time with you, other issues may rightly take precedence in their life.  No single relationship can satisfy the casting needs for the drama of our becoming. (Parks 2000)  We are all needy – at times in life. We need regular support, and putting that pressure on one individual to meet your needs moves a mentor towards burnout. If you always see Jane on the weekends, but she works during the week, maybe you can locate someone who has a similar schedule as you to connect with during the week.

Your mentor cannot give you a proper concept of community.

Mentoring should not simply be done exclusively in coffee shops, but should extend into everyday, dynamic contexts.  While a mentor can help you process the issues in life, you also need mentors with whom you can experience life together.  According to Parks, places that typically represent the power of mentoring communities in young adult lives are higher education, professional education, workplaces, travel, the natural environment, families, and religion.  (Parks 2000)  In a community setting, mentors can see the individual’s behavior, and observe how others respond.

Your mentor is not enough.  This is the purpose of mentoring community and the beauty of the body of Christ.  A church which seeks to build intergenerational relationships is naturally designed to fulfill this purpose (Read More).

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network – a Facebook community focused on those who minister to emerging adults.

 

Parenting Emerging Adults – Podcast by Steve Argue

Equipping parents for each stage of their child’s development is important.  EA Resources is designed to gather resources for parents and churches who want to minister to the needs of emerging adults.

Here is a podcast by Steven Argue, who is an expert on emerging adulthood and faith.  He is also the parent of three emerging adults.

Click Here for the Podcast!

If you work regularly with Emerging Adults, connect with Steve and many others through joining the EA Network on Facebook.

Steve joined the Fuller Theological Seminary faculty in June 2015 in a hybrid role as assistant professor of youth, family, and culture and as an applied research strategist with the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI). He is a thought leader and researcher with decades of on-the-ground ministry experience.

Vocation Group for Emerging Adults

If churches want to engage young adults, it is crucial that they understand the needs of emerging adults.  One challenge facing emerging adults is to establish a vocation.  Here is an article that discusses how a community has developed a program to minister to emerging adults.

Samuel Group is a discernment group for young adults, ages 18-39, who meet together once a month from September through March in order to study, pray, and discover their individual vocations or lifetime call from God. The purpose of the program is to equip young adults with the tools they need to approach vocational discernment with peace, joy and confidence.         

The program has a three-fold goal for each candidate:

— to know oneself

— to know Jesus

— to know one’s role in the church and in the world

 

Here is the rest of the article.

Four Avenues of Growth within a Mentoring Community

This and other images are available for free for those who minister to emerging adults. Find them on our free resources page.

A mentoring community allows emerging adults to be lead through change and development.  According to Sharon Parks, mentoring communities can take many forms including: a classroom cohort, a laboratory, athletic team, or residence hall.  (Article)  In these settings, there are several avenues (or means) of growth that cause spiritual development.  As a leader of a mentoring community, we need to be observant of what avenues of growth our group members might be traveling upon.

Growth Through Questioning

Churches need to be safe places where emerging adults can ask questions without judgement. Unless questions are clearly encouraged, most emerging adults will not ask what is really on their mind. Parks says, “There are too few networks of belonging in which young adults are encouraged to critically reflect on the primary images, symbols, and stories-ideologies-myths that shape their souls and their society.”  (Parks 2000, 124)  Leaders of mentoring communities must not fear questions or succumb to the pressure to provide all the answers. The purpose of questions is to promote dialogue rather than produce arguments, and to enjoy conversation rather than seek conversion to your point of view.

Some emerging adults do not feel safe asking questions regarding their belief systems due to their nature or up-bringing.   When emerging adults don’t know what to ask, mentors can pose “questions that go straight to the heart and the heart of the matter.” (Parks 2000, 132)  Leaders of mentoring communities encourage EA’s to form beliefs and provide resources to answer their questions.

Growth through Pain

This and other images are available for free for those who minister to emerging adults. Find them on our free resources page.

The expression – “No pain, no gain” is often true in our spiritual development.  Parks states, “Whether or not we hold a formal theory of change and growth, we know from our own experience that new life, insight, and transformation often arise out of circumstances that may be, initially at least, somewhat uncomfortable.  (Parks 2000, 109)  As mentors of EA’s, we should not seek to remove their pain, but seek to help them survive, reflect, and adapt. 

Growth through Reflection

We are living in a world filled with noise.  In fact, the absence of noise (and being left alone with our thoughts) can be terrifying.  Parks states, “a good mentoring environment in today’s world initiates young adults into ways of life that encourage them to build pause into the emerging patterns of their adult lives.  (Parks 2000, 115)  A mentoring community equips emerging adults to ask reflective questions:  What does this say about me? About God? About the world?  After posing these questions, a mentor should wait in silence and allow them to process and reflect.

Growth through Acceptance

A mentoring community is a place where members give and receive acceptance.  It “offers a network of belonging in which young adults feel recognized as who they really are, and as who they are becoming.”  (Parks 2000, 95)  Mentoring environments allow room to grow and change, and yet feel acceptance.  A community with belief and behavior boundaries can deter attachment for emerging adults who are still developing their identity and core beliefs.

In our churches, these four avenues of growth are not done in a vacuum, but in environments that seeks to foster faith in God through godly teaching and mentors where emerging adults are challenged to live a life surrendered to Jesus.  Our churches will be strengthened when we understand their needs during this phase of life and create mentoring communities.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a nonprofit designed to equip parents and churches to minister to emerging adults.  If he can minister to your community, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

The First Two Weeks

 

© 2014 Kevin Dooley, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

During the first two weeks of college, your child is facing much bigger issues than getting lost on campus, and running out of clean underwear.   Kara Powell and Chap Clark in their book Sticky Faith say, “Over and over, students have told us that the first two weeks at college are when they make key decisions about drinking and other high-risk behaviors, right along with choosing whether to go to church or to a campus ministry.”  (Powell and Clark)

In a college setting, social groups are quickly formed often based on where you live, and involvement (sport teams, music groups, or other interest groups).  The warm friendly smiles that you receive on campus while visiting, quickly fade as people are no longer looking for more friends.  Petrified of being left alone, students often make decisions based on their need for social connection.

Students quickly learn that their decisions about alcohol and other behavior will quickly ostracize them from others.  It doesn’t take too many evenings left alone in the dorm before feelings of loneliness can overwhelm even the deepest resolve.

How do you prepare a student for those first two weeks?

1.  Teach them to walk across the room and extend a hand.  Teaching your child basic skills in how to make new friends is crucial for this new phase of life.  Many adolescents face little change in their circle of friends during high school, and have forgotten how to make new friends.  Encouraging your adolescent to always be looking for new friends will help them keep their social skills, and prepare them for the future.  As a child moves away from home, emerging adults meet their first test, whether than can develop their own community.

2.  Teach them how to find a Spiritual Community.  Most adolescents have never picked out a church before.  They don’t know what questions to ask, or what to look for?  Your child might be overwhelmed by the available options, and not try.  According to Sticky Faith Research,  “40% of students feel prepared to find a new church.”  Parents need to prepare their child for find a new Christian community.

Use on-line tools to help your student check out churches around their campus.  LiveAbove.com is an outreach of the Youth Transition Network: a coalition of youth, college and military ministries working together to transition students from high school to college/career  (For more information about YTN go to www.youthtransitionnetwork.org).

3.  Remember last minute cramming, isn’t very helpful.  One emerging adult said, “I really appreciated that they didn’t give me a bunch of last minute “advice” about how to live life on my own. I feel like the drop off is not the time or place! If they want to give me life lessons, giving nagging reminders as they drop me off isn’t the best!”

It is not the absence of information that causes students to make poor decisions, it is often the lack of will.  The prophet Isaiah makes this point when he says,  “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”   Even though you are not with them, your child will hear your voice as they are making their own decisions.

First2Weeks_v1 (1)4.  Pray, and ask others to join you during this time.  Pray for godly influences including:  friends, ministries, and other adults.  Encourage your church community to do a prayer campaign for college students during the fall as students are leaving for school.  Join our prayer campaign.

Ultimately, you have no control over the first two weeks or any week of your child’s experiences at college.  You can only surrender yourself, and your child to the Lord in prayer.  This is what makes the first two weeks so very difficult.

Resources

Powell, Kara and Chap Clark.  Sticky Faith:  Everyday ideas to build lasting faith in your kids.

The Difference Between Church-Based College Ministry and Campus-Based

I read this article over the weekend, and thought it had some good thoughts for those working with emerging adults.  The author, Arliss served as Baptist Campus Minister at Arkansas State University for 32 years. He now serves as Leadership Development Consultant for the Collegiate Ministry office at Lifeway Christian Resources.

This image is available for download. Check out our Free Resources page for more information.

I spent 41 years doing campus based college ministry.  I recently started my second stint as an Interim Church Based College Minister.  One of the things I have believed in both positions is that a church based ministry should not look just like a campus based one.  There is and should be a difference in the two.  I would even go as far as to say that some churches are not doing a church based college ministry, but rather are doing their version of a campus based ministry.  The church I serve started the campus based BCM ministry on the local campus many years ago and continues to be one of it’s leading financial supporters.  So, we want it to succeed and we do not want to do anything that might harm what it is doing.

Read the rest of the article on Arliss’ website.

If you work with either church or campus-based ministry, join the EA Network. 

We need to come together for the sake of God’s Kingdom!

 

Five Dos and Don’ts when dropping off your college student

Fall is upon us, and many campuses, are many schools are welcoming another record-breaking number of students.   It is a good idea for parents to have a role in the higher education of their children, but what is that role?  Are they simply there as pack mules for an over-abundance of clothes and a mini-fridge?  Should they take an active role in organizing the room and arranging their daily schedule?  For those parents who plan to drop off your student at college, here are a few things to make the trip productive and enjoyable.

1.  Talk about Expectations.

You may not know what to expect, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have expectations.  Remember that your child will also have expectations.  Make sure you discuss these expectations before you arrive.  Do they want you to spend the night nearby?   What role can siblings play (if any)?  What is important for them while you are there?  Asking good questions will set you to have a successful trip.

After you arrive, remember that their expectations might change quickly.  One emerging adult said, “Do your best to read the mood of your child.  Know when it’s time to leave (or stay), setting aside personal feelings.”   As a parent, you have learned to read your child, and if you are confused ask them.

2.  Meet the Suitemates.

While on campus, don’t focus entirely on the work of moving in, but meet those who will be living with your child.  If you are bad with names, make a list on your drive home, so when you child mentions their new friends, you will know who they are talking about.  This information is invaluable, and will provide a bridge between your worlds.

While meeting these students, one parents said, “Do not make quick judgments about peers on the dorm floor, they are placed there by God for a reason. “  There is a strong desire to share our perceptions and first impressions about those living with your child; however, parents must begin to let go and let them discern and decide who will be in their inner circle (community).

3.  Attend and See what you want.

© 2017 Hamza Butt, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Most colleges offer information sessions for parents as part of their welcoming week.  If you want to stay and see a program, that doesn’t mean your child has to go.  If you want to take a walk around campus or visit the school cafeteria, your child doesn’t have to babysit you.  As parents, it is important that you get a feel of the campus, and what their new life will be like.

4.  Pray with them – and pray for them.

Leaving a child at school is big event in your life and your child, commemorate it.  Don’t let your final words be repeated sound bytes of your timeless wisdom.  One emerging adult said, “I really appreciated that they didn’t give me a bunch of last minute advice about how to live life on my own. I feel like the drop off is not the time or place!”  So in order to avoid the last-minute advice, plan to end with a time of family prayer.  Find a private space and time to pray with and over your child.  Now this will seem weird, if you haven’t built a lifestyle of praying together, but for the spiritually connected family, this is an absolute.  Your prayers don’t end with the amen, but that part of parenting goes on forever.

5.  Control your emotions

One mother said, “I needed to remind myself that this event is truly not about me, it involved me and caused much change in my life , but was the beginning of the independent journey for my child in God’s plan.”  You will face strong emotions, and it is important to keep those emotions in check while with your child, and then process them later in private with your spouse or a friend.  One parent said that, “I manage not to dissolve into tears until we exit the parking lot.”  Your student wants to know that you love them, but most could do without the public meltdown.  One EA writes, “Although I might feel embarrassed if mom starts crying, deep down I feel loved and will cherish it.”

One emerging adult said, “I loved that my parents dropped me off with my stuff (without telling me I had too much stuff), said congratulations, snapped pictures, and took off saying ‘Time to party.’”   When asked how it affected them, she said, “It made me deal with the reality that I need to grow up and take responsibility.”

Remember that you are not the only one facing strong emotions.  Your children will face a variety of emotions including fear, excitement, joy, and sorrow.  As you leave, make sure they know you will be there – no matter what comes their way.

Remember that as you leave their side, God remains.

Top questions to ask college students before they head to school

Fall is upon us, and student will soon be packing their bags and leaving for college.  If your child is leaving, Kara Powell from the Fuller Youth Institute released this article about preparing your child for college.  Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary.

When our oldest started high school, multiple older parents told me that high school would fly by. I didn’t believe them, but now that Nathan is diving into eleventh grade, I’ve jumped on the “high school goes so fast” bandwagon.

Here is the full article! 

Pass it along to someone you know is dropping off a student this fall.

If you work with emerging adults, please join Kara and other members of the Fuller Youth Institute as members of the EA Network – a networking site on Facebook.

Other resources:

 

More Young White Evangelicals are Showing Support for Marriage Equality

Here nullis an article that came out in June – that should be of interest to those who work with Emerging Adults.   According to the Pew Research, 47% of white evangelical adults born after 1964 favor same-sex marriage, up from 29% in March 2016.

Support for marriage equality is rising among all Americans, according to two new national surveys. And despite efforts to hinder it, this sea change is also touching an important demographic within the evangelical Christian community: young people.

Young white evangelicals are increasingly showing support for same-sex marriage, according to recent surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and PRRI. The data signals a significant departure from the overarching views of the evangelical community among younger generations.

 

Making assumptions about what emerging adults believe on any topic can be dangerous for your relationship with them.  Instead of making assumptions, get to know them, and listen to their stories, and attempt to understand the road that they have traveled.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director for EA Resources, a nonprofit that seeks to equip parents and churches to minister to emerging adults.  If Dr. Boyd can help your community, you can contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

 

Creating a Mentoring Community for Emerging Adults

The three developmental tasks of adulthood are to discover vocation, establish autonomy, and develop community.  These tasks cannot be accomplished overnight, and emerging adults require support to accomplish these tasks.

In her book, Big Questions, Worthy Dreams, Sharon Parks states that one place where emerging adults can find this support is a mentoring community. Parks describes a mentoring community as “an environment or milieu that provides the right mix of support, challenge, opportunity, and inspiration.” (Article)  Mentoring communities can be formed in many social settings including: a classroom, laboratory, athletic team, residence hall, neighborhood or church. Regardless of the form, here is an overview of Park’s list of essential aspects for a mentoring community.

Park’s list of essential aspects for a mentoring community.

1.  Support

When developing a mentoring community, you must create an atmosphere where emerging adults feel supported through words and actions.  Although spiritual direction and encouragement are central to your ministry, your support must go beyond quips and Bible verses.  Your support must be abundantly clear, resulting in tangible acts.  Emerging adults must have their basic human needs met to focus on the developmental tasks of adulthood. (Read more about Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs as it pertains to adulthood.)

2.  Challenge

While providing support, you must also challenge emerging adults.  We must promote questions in order to cause growth and to stir them towards autonomy of beliefs and actions (Raising Expectations on Emerging Adults).  Good questions from mentors include: How is this working for you?, What do you think?, How would you respond?, and How does that apply or affect your life?

3.  Opportunity

Mentoring communities must provide opportunity.  Mentors seek to give meaningful work, training, and service opportunities to emerging adults.  These opportunities provide experiences and sharpen job skills which prepare emerging adults for future vocations.  Within your community, create opportunities where emerging adults can both serve and lead.

4.  Inspiration

Inspiration is essential to a mentoring environment.  Emerging adults must be “invited to imagine a future that can hold significance and purpose – both for self and for the larger world.”  (Article)  Inspiration produces hope, inspires dreams, and sparks motivation.  The living Word of God contains endless passages which can inspire emerging adults.

Each week as your community meets, evaluate whether or not you adding enough of these ingredients to help emerging adults grow and flourish.

If Dr. G. David Boyd can help your church design a community for emerging adults, you can contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.  If you work with emerging adults (18-25), check out the EA Network.

Resources:

Big Questions, Worthy Dreams by Sharon Parks