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476112: 99 Thoughts on Caring for Your Youth Group  

99 Thoughts on Caring for Your
Youth Group

A basic toolkit that honors God and assures you can provide the best possible advice and care.
Just $5.99
Sunday School Lesson Plans

Practical Tips To Help Grieving Teens

The death of a child is so traumatic that even trained counselors frequently don't know what to say or do. Many youth pastors desperately reach out for help through Group Forum, which I moderate. Because my daughter was killed on a church youth group outing when she was fourteen I can tell you the things that helped my family from first hand experience. However, I am not a trained professional. My knowledge of helping the kids in the youth group is limited to personal experience.
277248: A Parent"s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis A Parent's Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis
By Rich Van Pelt & Jim Hancock / Zondervan/Youth Specialties

School shootings, addiction, bullying, depression, sexual abuse, eating disorders, suicide . . . today's teens face unprecedented challenges---many of them life-threatening. How can you protect your kids? Youth counselors Van Pelt and Hancock offer expert insights to prepare you to respond appropriately, prevent issues from occurring, and get professional help when your kids need it. 176 pages, softcover from Zondervan.
You hope you'll never need a resource like this but I used this book the first week I got it. The advise and instructions were exactly the right thing to do. I was really glad I had it.

They will need to talk about it:

You must boldly enter into their grief with them. You might be terrified that you'll say the wrong thing, and you might, but, blubbering and crying is never wrong. Listen and cry. Be slow to offer any answers at first. Ask the questions with them. Come before God with your questions, disbelief, and even anger in prayer.

Acknowledge their pain:

Even if the kids were only mildly aquatinted they will feel like this was their best friend and it's happening mostly to them. This may be the first time death has struck close to home. Let them dive into their feelings but keep an eye out for them taking this too far. If needed, you might have to gently apply a dose of reality to shake them out of it.

105086: Life Hurts God Heals: 8 Step Recovery Program for Students with Pain and Addiction CDROM Life Hurts God Heals: 8 Step Recovery Program for Students with Pain and Addiction CDROM
By Doug Fields, John Baker & Megan Hutchinson / Group Publishing

Right now, there are students in your youth ministry who are desperately hurting from the pain of a broken home, struggles with depression, abusive relationships, and more.

Life Hurts God Heals is a completely comprehensive resource you can use to launch and run a ministry specifically to bring healing to these students. It includes all the curriculum you will need for leaders and participants, as well as all the behind the scenes stuff to help with everything from recognizing danger signs in teens to how to get this program up and running in your church.

Included are:

  • 16 practical resources on starting a Life Hurts God Heals ministry
  • DVD with student testimonies about the Life Hurts God Heals program
  • Leader Guides in PDF and Word formats
  • Student Workbooks (13 lessons) in PDF and Word formats
  • Eight 30-minute sermons by Doug Fields in MP3 format
  • Teaching transcripts of each sermon
  • Student devotionals and journals
  • Follow-up support group study
  • Promotional materials, including sample parent letters, brochures, calendars, and more
  • Administrative materials, including welcome signs and consent forms etc.

    Every element of this resource with the exception of the student testimonies is completely open for you to reproduce and edit for use in your ministry. We want you to be completely empowered and as effective as possible as you reach out to your students in need.

    For more information on Life Hurts God Heals, please visit

Visit our home website:
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for more articles on these topics:

Practical Tips For Helping Grieving Parents

Articles on
Grief and Loss

Do a Memorial Service just with the group:

Turning their grief into concrete actions is a good step to take. The kids in my daughters youth group attached a helium balloon to the seat she usually sat in at church during our memorial service. This was their way of signifying her place in the group and the loss they felt. They also did a balloon release. The balloons carried their thoughts, Bible verses, and good byes on little stickers. During their next several mid-week meetings they made a plaque and a giant poster that hung in the youth garage for many years.

They needed to talk to us:

The kids wrote their favorite memories of Catherine, assembled copies of any photographs they had of her and presented them to us. One teen clung to me and cried on my shoulder until my shirt was soaked. They also needed to tell us their story (or involvement with our daughter, their relationship with her), and know that we valued them.

Kids will feel guilty even if they aren't even remotely connected to the event. They may have spoken a bad word, gossiped, or taken the other side in an argument long ago. Some needed to know that we did not hold anything against them. They needed to hear us forgive them.

37914: My Friend is Struggling With . . . Death of a Loved One My Friend is Struggling With . . . Death of a Loved One
By Josh McDowell & Ed Stewart / Thomas Nelson

Through the aid of a gripping true life story, Josh McDowell and Ed Stewart, offers biblical insight and practical instruction on what you and your friends can do when faced with the death of a loved one. But more importantly, you will discover how to experience the comfort, encouragement, and support you need from both God and a friend.
10808EB: Help! My Kids Are Hurting: A Survival Guide to Working with Students in Pain - eBook  

A Survival Guide to Working with Students in Pain This book provides a wide range of appropriate interventions and fundamental
people-helping skills

Answering the tough questions:

Kids will need to have answers to the deep questions that the death of someone close brings up. What Happens When You Die? , "Why do bad things happen to good people?", “Doesn’t God love me?”, “Am I being punished?”, “Can’t God protect me from evil?”, “If He can, why didn’t He?”, Is God responsible for evil?”, "Can a person who commits suicide go to heaven?"

Kids will ask you these loaded questions. If you give them the same old rote answers they will turn you off and mistrust whatever you're teaching. If, on the other hand, you prepare a detailed, Biblically supported answer, weather it's a tough answer or not, they will grow to trust you and appreciate your lessons.The point is to tell the kids the truth.

021436X: Disappointment with God

Disappointment with God

In Disappointment with God, Yancey tackles the questions caused by a God who doesn't always do what we think he's supposed to do. Insightful and deeply personal, Yancey points to the odd disparity between our concept of God and the realities of life. Why, if God is so hungry for relationship with us, does he seem so distant? Why, if he cares for us, do bad things happen? What can we expect from him after all? Yancey answers these questions with clarity, richness, and biblical assurance.

Suggest a pet :
our dog helped heal

Our son, only eight at the time, was greatly helped by getting a dog. Indeed, the whole family was helped. Pets, I suppose, aren't right for everyone, and there are many housing situations that would not allow it. However, we got our dog, Max, from the pound a year after Catherine was killed and he filled a void in his own unique way that was part of the healing process for us all.

12514EB: When Kids Hurt: Help for Adults Navigating the Adolescent Maze - eBook When Kids Hurt: Help for Adults Navigating the Adolescent Maze - eBook
By Chap Clark & Steve Rabey / Baker Books

Clark's best-selling ethnographic study Hurt revealed the hard truth about contemporary adolescence: societal changes and systemic abandonment have left teenagers navigating the difficult transition to adulthood alone. Here he and Rabey sum up that research in an accessible form and lay out practical ways youth workers, volunteers, teachers, counselors, and parents should respond. An indispensable resource! Paperback.
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