Last Friday our world experienced a horrific tragedy against our most innocent by the hands of our own persons. There has been, and will be, plenty of speculation, cries for change, fact finding, and written pieces explaining how this could happen or be prevented.
This article posting, I hope, is without any of those things but taking on a position of “How do we minister to our youth in this?” Below are a list of resources and advice on speaking to youth through a tragedy such as we have experienced, and/or will experience again.
Talking With Youth
- Strategies for Talking and Listening: some good guide points from PBS for taking on yourself or sharing with your parents on talking about these tragedies with our youth and children.
- School Shootings: Helping Teens Cope, a Parents Guide: comes from All About Kids and is more expansive than the PBS list, but re-iterates some of the same points. This list is taken from a guide developed after the Virginia Tech shooting of 2007. It has a link to download that as well.
- A Guide to Mass Shootings in America: Mother Jones seems to be an authority these last few weeks on mass shootings, in part, because they put together a research piece after the shooting in Aurora, CO. Their findings are both predictable and surprising, at least they were for me. It is a good piece of knowledge building in engaging in talks with youth. Especially since many have heard some of these details in varied news reporting.
- Other talking tips come from WebMD which has answers geared towards more direct questions. PsychCentral has similar talking tips. MSNBC has one of their experts on saying the same thing if you prefer to gather these points through video.
- On Point Radio this morning had a very great conversation with regards to the mental health conversation stirring after the shooting. I am sharing this, over similar gun conversation, because I feel that mental health is a ministry issue more than a political one. These are people who may grace our churches because it is safe or stay away because of what we demand of them. So many depths to being in ministry with ‘the least of these’.
- What Not to Say: It isn’t the most theologically in depth article, but gives some good advice for that onset conversation and being in the presence of people who are grieving.
- Not that this is a scientific / research piece, but it is interesting capture of the grief process lived out over social media.
Ministry with Youth
- The General Board of Discipleship has page with collected worship resources relevant and usable in school shooting situations.
- My friends Chris & Joanna created this prayers stations experience worship, which was expanded and posted again on the Indiana Conference Connect webpage.
- Understand the hurt of teens. Andrew Root talks about divorce in this talk, which is incredibly valuable. I believe the feelings of hurt experienced are similar and how he outlines ministry with children of hurt is transferable to what teens might experience today.
- There are many letters to congregations written. This one summarized what I like in the conversation of ministry:As people of faith, we respond with hope in the face of horror, trust in the face of tragedy, and grace in the face of grief. Such difficult times remind us:
- Life is fragile and unpredictable, and therefore precious.
- God weeps with us and cares for us in our losses.
- Moral evil is the tragic implication of a free world.
- There is a lot we don’t know about this event at this time.
- We need each other – community is good and vital to our well-being.
- Children are precious to Jesus (Matthew 18:1-4, 19:13-15).
- Helping Hurting Teens by Abingdon Press, which has some good ‘signs’ to see hurting youth that you can suggest to parents and teens to notice in others so that we may all be lights in their darkness.