This month is all about transitions. One transition we often forget to acknowledge is that of moving. This week its just me answering the question……
“How do you help a youth with the transition of moving?”
Andrew Noe is the Student Minister at Rosemont Baptist Church in Lexington, KY, and the moderator of this blog. He enjoys superheroes, and trying to be funny. He is married to the wonderful and amazing Hannah Noe. They have a super intelligent dog named Daphne, and a water-obsessed cat named Ellie
I moved over 18 times before I finished High School. Only 1 or 2 were from one side of town to the other. The other moves were all from state to state. I honestly can’t even list the states I lived in, because I lost track at some point.
I know I was born in Rhode Island, and now live in Kentucky. Somewhere in the middle I also lived in California, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, and the others that I don’t remember.
Moving can be an extremely difficult time for children and youth. The change of schools, churches, and friends, makes for a lack of stability. In some ways…. In other ways I found stability in moving.
Every time we moved we would get plugged in at the local church quickly. My parents knew that we needed to jump in quickly and get to know people so to try and provide us with opportunities. For all the lack of stability in what my house, school, and friends looked like, I had a growing sense that the church could be home anywhere I went. It is one of the largest reasons I am a minister today, to provide a sense of home to those who need the church to be their home and family.
However, there are a number of things that ministers and the church family could have done to make this transition easier. Especially for people who have grown up most of their lives in one place and suddenly are in a new place.
Here are my top 5 things for helping a new youth adjust to your group:
- Take them personally out to lunch to welcome them to the new church (bring another kid or two about their age along)
- Show them around the church and the city/town (school, local parks, movie theater, etc.)
- Ask what their favorite thing their old youth group did
- Encourage them to stay in touch with their old friends
- Regularly check on them for a few months as they settle in. (Odds are they haven’t moved as much as I did, and the old home was all they every knew)
Here are my top 5 things for helping a youth say goodbye as they move away:
- Take them out to lunch just the two of you (to their favorite spot in town) and thank them for being part of the youth ministry
- Have them show you around their favorite spots in the church (say a prayer of closure in each spot)
- Ask them to share with the group one of their favorite memories
- About a month after they move, have everyone write them a letter encouraging them in their new school/church
- Get a large group photo, put it in a frame with a matte around the sides and have everyone sign it/write prayers/scripture on it.
For both of the lists I would strongly encourage making sure the youth knows that they can talk about the struggles of moving; friends pulling away before they have left, new friend groups being hard to break in to, the struggles of a new school where you have to start over, the struggles of leaving a school where you were already successful.
Moving can be hard, but the right ministers can make the church feel like home anywhere we are.