Christian based youth mentoring can help youth at risk by delivering appropriate programs in a safe, nurturing, faith based community. Youth at risk, include such things as: Alcohol and Substance Abuse; Violence and law enforcement conflict; High risk sexual behaviours; Unexpected pregnancy; Mental and Emotional health issues, and Nutrition/Self Care problems. Christian based organizations, whether Churches, Mobile Christian outreaches, Evangelical Centers or Bible Colleges, possess not only the necessary skill sets for effective mentoring, but also have access to the greatest availability of outside resources and funding.
Churches are established settings. Many religious organizations have already implemented various twelve step recovery programs for Adults; along with clothing, food, and out reach support services. Church basement hall’s and meeting rooms can be utilised for youth mentoring, and congregational members are often eager to put their skill sets in action for youth at risk. Determining what youth at risk programs to start can, to a large extent, be modeled on existing adult programs, while new ones can be implemented.
Feedback from the community and congregation, determines the greatest community based need for youth at risk. Once determined, Church volunteer’s can be screened to be mentor’s; duration of mentorship programs can be determined; word of mouth advertising and flyers can be developed and distributed through existing Church and outreach programs, and recruitment of troubled youth can begin. Reaching out to local law enforcement and local social services agencies can bring referrals for Mentee’s.
Government agencies are readily available with resources for youth at risk mentoring programs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA) lists resources, a toll free number, links to other Government services, and nominally priced work books on their website. SAMSHA also includes the top 50 resource books, making it easier for any potential Christian youth program to determine what they need to deliver effective programs.
On-line Ministry resources can also help with youth at risk; UrbanMinistry(dot)org lists local, regional and International grant resources for any Christian organization seeking funding to start a mentoring program. Christian Organizations can also freely register their programs, recruit for additional volunteers and guest speakers, and review Podcast’s on the business aspects of starting, continuing and running a non-profit agency.
Once implemented, Christian youth mentoring programs can have a diverse and profound effect. Youth at risk often have cross issues; they may have Alcohol abuse problems that can be dealt with within an effective setting, but may also be educationally deficient and homeless. Cross programs such as housing assistance through Church funded shelters and second stage housing; and GED and life skills programs may also be imperative to get away from the ‘at risk’ stigma. Christian organizations are wonderfully prepared to deliver cross-directed programs, within the same setting. Combining a whole person, or whole health approach through recovery, training and emotional support, to prevent returning to the same patterns.
Faith based Mentor’s may also work closely with local law enforcement and social service agencies. Advocating for Mentee’s who engage and finish various recovery, counseling, life skills and educational programs can go along way in helping youth in conflict with the law and society. Reports can be generated showing documented changes, which are often taken into account by Judges, Probation Officers and the school system. Unwed teenage mothers participating in Christian based parenting classes stand a greater chance of being able to keep their children through advocacy from Mentor’s.
The ultimate goal of Christian youth mentoring programs is to develop a whole person return to health, while simultaneously developing a personal relationship with God. Many successful Mentee’s become active members of the Church community and continue to participate in various development programs and biblical studies. The success and effectiveness of mentorship delivered in a Christ community cannot be underestimated for ‘at risk’ youth. Christian mentorship is often on-going, and issues based, and youth can participate in a safe nurturing environment that may never have been available at home or school.