Creating an Environment for Growth

By Tom Copple

Intro: Young People have special needs. In this session, you will be challenged to create an environment of honesty and trust in which young people can feel accepted and free to deal with their problems and needs.
Growth is the natural result of any healthy, living organism. In Luke 2:52 we find a growing adolescent boy who “grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with both God and man, incidentally his name was Jesus! From Christ’s life we will parallel four areas of growth that should exist in every Pentecostal youth group.

I. A Biblical Criteria For Measuring Growth:

A. Jesus Grew In Wisdom – A Youth Group Will Also Grow In Wisdom, or Life Principles.

1. Teenagers should learn principles of life from the Book of Proverbs and a relevant youth-curriculum in Sunday School and the weekly youth service.

B. Jesus Grew In Stature – A Healthy Youth Group Will Also Grow In Stature or Size.

1. Numerical growth will naturally occur when youth are growing in the other three areas. However, the least important method of measuring growth is by number.

2. Jesus emphasized quality over quantity. When quality disciples were trained then the Apostolic Church grew in number. Christ required that people count the cost before following Him, thus it remains the same

C. Jesus Grew In Favor With God – A Healthy Youth Group Will Also Grow In Favor With God or Grow Spiritually.

1. When youth grow spiritually attitudes will change and they will find power over temptation.

2. A spiritually growing youth group will enjoy the strength and power of true biblical worship in youth service, and also develop a consistent daily devotional.

D. Jesus Grew In Favor With Man – A Healthy Youth Group Will Also Grow, In Favor With Man or Grow Socially.

1. Teens should be taught to love one another, and forgive each other.

2. Healthy friendships will most naturally develop from interacting in different group activities.

II. A Growing Leader Creates A Productive Environment:

A. Love – The Ultimate Basic!

1. Teens will feel free to open-up when they know they are genuinely loved! “Perfect love casteth out all fear. . .”

2. Love means listening. With Hollywood, computers, rock music and busy parents, teens will mature only as a “Significant” person listens to them! We develop our identity in Christ by speaking words from our hearts to an active listener. Trust is built when you listen.

B. To Develop Honesty and Trust You Must Be Honest and Trustworthy.

1. Allow kids to be honest! Expect the unexpected. Be honest in front of them, let them know you have struggles too – teens can’t relate to a superman.

2. Teens will trust you when they’re convinced they can speak confidentially to you. Strong relationships are only developed through time.

C. Practice Benign Neglect – Choose To Look At Teens Strengths, Not Just Their Weaknesses.

1. Proverbs 17:9 – Love forgets mistakes, nagging about them parts the best of friends.

2. The youth-leader most-importantly must practice forgiving and forgetting.

III. Ingredients For Growth:

A. Understand The Truth Of Acceptance Without Approval.

1. We should accept teens, however they come to us. Before they open-up to be taught they must feel accepted and loved. This concept should be taught to our core group so that we don’t offend visitors on their first visit.

2. Learn to be tolerant, and work on the bettering of adolescent developmental stages, such as: impatience, short-tempered, constantly questioning, immature attitudes, negativism, calculated uninterest in teaching, etc.

B. Praise and Encourage Whenever Possible.

1. Praise is necessary for growth. Encouragement builds bridges. When teens do a good job, pour on the praise.

2. Teach teens to encourage others as opposed to gossiping. The worlds youth culture lacks the essential ingredient of hope. Give your youth hope for their future. A merry heart doth good.

C. Build Community In Your Group.

1. Teenagers will naturally want to be in a group where they are loved and needed. Make teens “accountable” to “their” youth group. Give them jobs – they’ll be at youth service if they know their job won’t be done if they’re absent.

2. Recognize the “herd” instinct in kids. Different personality types will naturally run together. Teens must be taught that for their personality to be fully developed they need to be exposed to others, different than

Close: I believe thru time, effort and God’s anointing every youth-leader can create an environment of Growth which will enable them to reap a harvest of dedicated, excited teenage disciples that can powerfully affect our world.

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