How Should Church Counsel Teenagers?

A man holds a bible in his hands.
A man holds a bible in his hands. (photo:
By CCD contributor: Zhi Xian March 27th, 2018

In teaching practice, I find that youth counselors often lack basic respect for adolescents. Some counselors only regard teenagers as students who need be educated for their mistakes. Under such circumstance, it's hard for juveniles to be accepted. Such counselors cannot play a positive role in building their spiritual lives. 

Jesus didn't blame the woman caught in adultery but gave her respect and love. His commandment for her to leave the life of sin contained expectation and love. He gave her more sincere and deeper respect. 

So counselors' attitude toward juveniles matters. 

Accept different kinds of people like Jesus 

Accepting juveniles doesn't mean agreeing with their deeds, but understands them. Adolescence is a special phase when juveniles are prone to have various types of problems like premature sexual intercourse. If adolescents are rejected by counselors, they will not open their hearts and reveal their inner problems to counselors.

Youth counselors should appreciate their positive sides and accept their darkness so that they can get access to their deepest problems and teach God's word to teenagers step by step. It's certainly a hard thing for counselors because they have their own concepts and value systems. However, imitate Jesus Christ who even accepts people with leprosy and the woman caught in adultery. 

Treat each juvenile with equality 

Equality is not sameness. Jesus had mercy on a blind man and a lame man. The two men were equal in God's eyes, but received different grace and were treated distinctly. Therefore, counselors should tutor teenagers distinctly based on equality, regardless of their appearance, age, health, or family background. 

Be polite to every juvenile

God loves every juvenile. We care for them because Jesus cares for them. When Jesus was betrayed by Judas, he still called him "friend". Jesus also behaved in a courteous manner when he was interrogated in the courtyard of the high priest. 

Accordingly, youth counselors should treat every juvenile with courtesy. No matter how adolescents are unreasonable, they should love and tolerate them. Try to communicate with them in a calm voice rather than roar and bite sarcasm toward them. At the same time, pay attention to their cultural backgrounds and folk customs. 

Trust adolescents

It's important that counselors trust juveniles. Juveniles can feel a sense of fulfillment and acceptance when they are trusted. 

Give trust to other people because they need trust, not because they do something trustworthy. It's like Jesus trusts us not because we complete God-given missions. Perhaps we often mess up things God entrusts to us, but God still gives us chances. In this way, we gradually grow in His trust. 

Protect their privacy 

Regarding their privacy, counselors should help them face their issues on the one hand, and on the other hand, accept them and protect their privacy. If there are very important affairs, talk and negotiate with related teams. 
Keep their issues secret to the counseling team to the full extent. 

Regard them with truth 

Counselors should treat them with respect and truth. Concerning specific issues, counselors should guide them with the truth. Tell them the standpoints of the Bible, God's will, and the church's administration system. It won't affect the relationship between counselors and adolescents but will let the latter recognize that such teacher who adheres to truth is an example to follow.  

- Translated by Karen Luo


related articles
LATEST FROM Church & Ministries