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.

 

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

Fostering virtual faith: Building an online community

As the internet has become more apart of our lives, discussions have been around for years about the possibility of a virtual church.  Here is an article that speaks about a truly virtual church, and how it desires to reach out to Millennials.

The Rev. Sion Gough Hughes, pastor of a Protestant church in Melbourne, Australia, was surfing the web a couple years ago when he happened on a Facebook page that challenged his understanding of his calling. 

Continue reading

National Congregational Study – 2015

The National Congregation Study led by Mark Chaves, sociologist at Duke, and Alison Eagle.  The study included over 3800 participating congregations representing 70+ Christian denominations, plus Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and other religious groups.  The third wave of this report was recently released, and is available at this link.

Here are five observations from the study.

pew and hymnal1.  The Growth of non-denominational churches.

 The number of congregations claiming no denominational affiliation increased from 18% in 1998 to 24% in 2012.  White mainline congregations, and the people in those congregations, are older than the congregations and people of other religious traditions.  I believe that this trend is going to continue as Millennials (and other generations) do not want to be defined by a denominational label or the culture baggage that some denominations carry.

 2.  The Continued Growth of Megachurches.

Most congregations are small, but most people are in large congregations.  People are increasingly concentrated in very large congregations. The average congregation is getting smaller, but the average churchgoer attends a larger congregation.  I believe that many people run to large congregations because they have been hurt by the church, but still love God (a group often referred to as the “Dones”).  These large congregations allow them to remain hidden while spending time worshipping the God they love.

 3.  An Increase in Diversity

There is increasing ethnic diversity over time both among and within American congregations.  Diversity (in ethnicity, socio-economic factors, and religious beliefs) is valued by many younger generations, and so I expect this diversity to increase.  Truly diverse congregations will become magnets for Millennials.    

 4.  A Desire to connect with their Local Community

Food assistance is by far the most common kind of social service activity pursued by congregations, with more than half (52%) of all congregations listing food assistance among their four most important social service programs.  Social action is important to Millennials, and churches should have a clear passion for service within their local communities.  However, serving the poor will take much more than clearing our pantries from an abundance of canned goods.   I fear that many churches pursue this route in order to alleviate guilt over Western consumerism.

 5.  Traditional Boundaries into Leadership are Falling.

 Acceptance of female lay leadership is very widespread, with 79% of congregations allowing women to hold any volunteer position a man can hold, and 86% allowing women to serve on the main governing board.  Congregational acceptance of gays and lesbians as members and lay leaders increased substantially between 2006 and 2012, but acceptance levels vary widely across religious traditions.  Those congregations who restrict leadership for various theological reasons might grow as they gather dissident members of accepting communities.  However, as Millennials and younger generations become the majority of the populous, these restrictive communities may have trouble replacing their aging populations.

(A boundary that I believe needs to change is the restriction of leadership within the church due to age – READ MORE.)

The Spiritual Landscape of America is changing rapidly.  How should your community respond?

David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit organization that is driven to educate and equip parents and churches who desire to minister to emerging adults.

Made for Maturity – Maslow’s Basic Human Needs and Human Development

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

When discussing basic human needs, most people are familiar with the work of Maslow and his pyramid of basic humans needs.  Maslow’s five basic human needs were:  physical, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization.  His pyramid was built upon the premise that when one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fulfill the next one.  Maslow believed that people are motivated to achieve certain basic needs. For example, after sitting on a couch for several hours, our physiological need to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom will pull us away from any video game not matter how exciting (or mind-numbing).

Maslow Hierarchy - Up-dated

Maslow’s Hierarchy up-dated for today’s wired world.

My three developmental tasks of adulthood – discovering vocation, developing community, and establishing autonomy– are internally motivated because humans were created with desires to love, to be free, and to be needed.  These basic human needs are based upon God’s creative design.  Since each developmental tasks is rooted in a basic human need, individuals do not need to be convinced of their importance, but will naturally work towards their fulfillment.

Vocation – Humans desire to be needed.

Humans desire to have a role in their world that makes an impact upon our self and the lives of others.  Vocation provides us the ability to be useful and make a difference in this world.  While paid vocation often fulfills other human desires (like income for physiological needs and security), it also fulfills our God-given desire to work, create, and design.  God is a worker, and is glorified as we follow His ways.  Work was not a result of the fall, but the ability to work is a gift (Genesis 3:17-18).

 Autonomy – Humans desire to be free.

Regardless of your theological beliefs concerning determinism or free-will, thoughts of being controlled or unable to affect the outcome of your life can lead to depression, anxiety, or apathy.  Autonomy is the ability to make decisions and deal with the consequences.  A sense of autonomy allows the individual to see they can make decisions that will change the outcome of their life.  Autonomy provides hope and motivation to the individual to affect our current circumstances.

Community – Humans desire to be loved.

We seek community because we desire to love and to be loved.  Our God is capable of love, and of relationships with His creation.  Veith states, “From the beginning, God put us in families, tribes, societies.  God ordained that we be in relationships.  He ordained that we need each other.”  (God at Work, 2002, 41).

When our basic needs (vocation, autonomy, and community) are unmet, we are motivated to action.  Our desires increase in intensity the longer they remain unmet.  A lack of desire to meet these needs can be rooted in a disability, an addiction (drugs, alcohol, or entertainment) or depression.

The church must seek to meet the needs of emerging adults, through offering assistance in their journey to meet the basic human needs of vocation, autonomy, and community.  I believe that church who create mentoring environments focused on these needs will draw and retain emerging adults.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit that exists to help parents and churches understand the challenges of emerging adulthood.

 

 

My Eating Disorder – a Story of Fear and Faith

© 2010 Rega Photography, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

It is easy to look back and see I how got there.  It is easy to look back and see how I started the journey back.  Although at the time, I didn’t see the signs that led me in, or led me out.  Somehow when you are in the midst of a struggle, all signs seem to vanish.  Continue reading

What is your E-VAC plan? (For Emerging Adults)

photo (2)I still remember the day that I had a fight with my parents, and told them I was moving out.  I was serious.  I packed my bags, and set them by the door.  They could not tell me what to do.  If I had to move to do my own thing, then I would.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a car so I couldn’t leave.

I didn’t have a phone, so I couldn’t call a friend.

I didn’t have a job or money, so I couldn’t support myself.

Fortunately, my parents took me back because…

all I had was two grocery bags filled with my favorite toys.

You have been dreaming of the day you move out for the past several years, but have struggled with making that dream a reality.  When day comes for you to leave your home, I hope that you are more prepared than I was.  Do you know what it will take to successfully launch from your parents’ home?

The primary goal for emerging adults is not to simply move out.  It is also not always more healthy or godly for emerging adults to move out.  In Bible times, families often lived under one roof.  It is only among affluent nations in more recent times that the concept of moving out has become so tied with an individual reaching adulthood.

Here are three areas to develop in order to ensure a successful E-VACuation.

1.  Vocation

The childhood question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”   has become central in your mind.  Vocation is the means by which individuals fulfill purpose in their life.  Seek to discover a vocation that gives you purpose and provides a place in the bigger picture of life.  Although you might find great purpose in video games, art, or playing a sport, if it does not provide for your basic needs, you need to continue to seek work that will provide both purpose and provision. 

 

Prepare yourself for the journey ahead.  Are you seeking to discover a vocation?  As an emerging adult, you need to be researching occupations, seeking opportunities for skill development, gaining work experience, and finding occupational role models.  You don’t have to have your dream job to move out (if there is such a thing), but you should be making steps towards discovering a vocation.

2.  Autonomy

It takes more than money in order to be able to move out of your parents’ home.  The second developmental task of adulthood is to establish autonomy.  Autonomy can be defined as the ability to make one’s own decisions and to deal with the consequences.  You must break your dependency upon other humans (usually parents, but it could be anyone) in the decision-making process.  Many emerging adults are overwhelmed by the multitude of decisions that await them as they enter adulthood.

Some parents hinder their children’s autonomy by hovering over their decisions, and protecting them from the consequences of those decisions.  If your parents are hovering, ask them to allow you the freedom to take more responsibility.  It is important that you develop your autonomy by learning to make wise decisions, and not asking your parents to bail you out when you are in trouble.

3.  Community

HandsThe ability to develop a personal community is essential to becoming an adult.  Western culture tends to support independent living, but biblical principles support inter-dependent living.  God created humans for community with Him, and with one another.  As you move out, you will need to develop a new community to help you in the good and bad times.

You need to be equipped with the skills to seek and develop community.  Do you have the ability to walk across the room, and make new friends?  Do you have the ability to provide and receive help from others?  These social skills are essential for moving out, and require practice in order to develop.  Many emerging adults have spent their entire lives in one setting, and do not have experience in making new friends.  Seek out new settings in order to practice your social skills, and build a strong community network.

Your day to move out will come.  Don’t be caught off guard.  Get your E-VAC plan in place so you are prepared.

If you are interested in hosting a seminar for your church or school, on how to develop your own E-VAC plan, please contact Dr. G. David Boyd at gdavid@earesources.org.

What is the eVACuation Plan for your children?

packed car

http://www.guardianremovals.co.uk

This winter’s weather has definitely been difficult.  Most of the United States has been under extremely cold weather conditions, it is currently snowing again in my home state of Minnesota.

One city that made recent news is Atlanta.  As a snow storm entered their city, the city officials did not adequately prepare for an evacuation of their city.  City officials knew the storm was coming, but failed to plan.  This lack of planning caused widespread confusion and chaos.

As a parent, do you have an evacuation plan for your emerging adult?  The day is coming when they will need to embrace adulthood.  Do you know what it will take to prepare them to leave the home in a healthy manner.

The primary goal for parents should not be to have an empty nest.  It is also not always more healthy or godly for emerging adults to move out.  In Bible times, families often lived under one roof.  It is only among affluent nations in more recent times that moving out has become so tied with reaching adulthood.

Becoming an adult is more than moving out of their parents’ home, Emerging adults need to accomplish three tasks:  Vocation, Autonomy, Community.  In order to achieve a successful evacuation from your home, here are three areas to develop your E-VAC plan (Vocation, Autonomy, Community).

1.  Vocation

Blank Road SignThe childhood question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  becomes central in the mind of emerging adults.  Vocation is the means by which the individual fulfills purpose in their life.  Emerging adults are seeking to discover vocation that gives them purpose and provides a place in the bigger picture of life. 

 

Parents must step forward to prepare them for the journey ahead.  How are we equipping our child to find purpose and provide for themselves?

Parents need to ask themselves how they can assist their child to move forward towards discovering their vocation.  Providing them opportunities for skills development, occupational exploration, work experience, and role models are a few things that parents can do to help them develop.

Other parents do too much.  If you are filling out job applications, then you are doing too much.  You have crossed the line, if you are filling out their college applications.  There is a balance to be found between directing their educational and vocational decisions, and yet letting them stand autonomous which is our second area of development for a healthy evacuation.

2.  Autonomy

The second developmental task of adulthood is to establish autonomy.  Autonomy can be defined as the ability to make one’s own decisions and to deal with the consequences.  An individual must break their dependency upon other humans (usually parents, but it could be anyone), and make decisions that are their own.

Parents need to allow their child’s autonomy, and to encourage them as they develop.  They can do this through releasing children to make decisions, working alongside them in the decision-making process, allowing children to pay for the consequences of the decisions.

3.  Community

Community is essential to becoming an adult, and an individual’s further development.  Western culture tends to support independent living, but biblical principles support inter-dependent living. God created humans for community with Him, and with one another.

Parents should seek to equip adolescents with the skills to seek and develop community.  These social skills are essential for the maturation process.  They can do this through forcing children out of their social comfort zones, placing them in intergenerational environments, teaching them social skills.

Don’t be caught off guard.  Get your E-VAC plan in place.

If you are interested in hosting a seminar for your church or school, on how to develop your own E-VAC plan, please contact Dr. G. David Boyd at gdavid@earesources.org.

You are not the only one (for parents).

Blank Road SignIf you feel as if nobody else’s children have problems…

If you wanted an empty nest, but have only gotten an empty wallet…

If you feel as if your kids will not pass history, let alone graduate…

If you feel as if you pray, and pray, and pray, and see no change …

If you are ready for your children to move out…

If you feel judgment walking through the church doors because of where your children are today,

If you struggle with guilt over your past decisions as a parent…

If you want your children to move back in…

If you are uncertain about your own financial security, let alone your kids…

If you feel as if you might be enabling your child instead of helping them…

Senior couple and their dautherIf you thought parenting ended at 18, but it now seems harder than ever…

If your child is the one who is jobless, but you are the one with no money…

If your child seems stuck, but you are the one in pain…

If you question aspects of your faith, and wonder where to go for answers…

If you get your sense of worth from how your children turned out…

If you lay awake at night wondering if they will be okay…

Or coming home…

Or ever moving out…

You are not alone, but normal.  Welcome to normal.  We can help.

EA Resources is dedicated to helping the parents of Emerging Adults.  We hope that these resources will encourage you on your journey.

You are not the only one (for emerging adults).

Group of EAIf getting a job is a little harder than you expected…

If the world is changing faster than you can keep up…

If you are connected on-line more, and yet still feel lonely…

If you are surrounded by Mr. Wrongs, and wonder where is that Mr. Right…

If you are still asking what you want to be when you grow up…

If you feel as if you will never obtain the dreams that you once had….

If it seems that you are the only one struggling to get an education…

If you thought your income would get you ahead, but you are only falling behind…

If you desperately need your parents, but feel as if you shouldn’t…

If you want to care for yourself, but still call your mom when washing your clothes,

If you want to make your own decisions, but still need your dad’s advice before buying a car,

If Miss Completely Wrong keeps throwing herself at you, while possible Miss Rights are running away,

If the world looks down upon you, because of your age…

If the church doesn’t understand you, because of your age…

If your parents want you to move out, because of your age…

If you question aspects of your faith, and are wondering where to go for answers.

If you feel you cannot make it through another class, another day, another disappointment…

You are not alone, but normal.

Welcome to normal.  We can help.

 

EA Resources is dedicated to helping Emerging Adults through the trials of emerging adulthood.  We hope that these resources will encourage you on your journey.