Tools for Processing the Protests with Teens | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
June 2020

Tools for Processing the Protests with Teens

By Scott Meier

It is in moments like these, crises that face our nation and our world, where those involved in student ministries have the chance to make generation change. As we work to raise the “next generation” of Jesus-followers and agents of change, the task can seem monumental. But the task and the results we can generate are not only worth it, they are essential.

As we face some dark moments in our nation’s history, we are confronted with the need to help students navigate a Christian response to race relations and racism. As we do so, we have the opportunity to help create people who are more compassionate and willing to take a stand for equality for all God’s children.

In order to guide your students in processing racism and the current protests that are erupting all over the United States and the world, you need to educate yourself, create safe spaces for students to talk, and engage with the Biblical witness. These tools will help you do all of that and give you what you need to help your students engage deeply.

Educate Yourself

Often, youth workers are expected to have all the answers about all the issues. Being honest with yourself about what you know and what you don’t know can help you in leading your students.

The General Commission on Religion and Race has a great online course titled, Implicit Bias: What We Don’t Think We Think.” This course is available for $20, an amount well worth it as this resource has been created for anyone who is interested in learning and teaching others about implicit bias.

Create Safe Spaces for Students to Talk

Creating spaces for students to talk has always been important in student ministry. But now more than ever we need to open those spaces and encourage students to join in. With many students isolated at home because of Covid-19, some have checked out of current events while others are glued to the happenings around them. Either way, getting students to open up and talk is vital to helping them process and then to lead them make Godly choices about how they view race and racism.

The Monumentous Institute has a really good resource on talking to students about race, including questions for discussion. ADL also has some great insights to opening up conversations about race and racism you can find at their website.

Before you open the space, remember that you may have some who have learned hate and racism at home; while, you may have others who, for a variety of reasons, express anger towards those demonstrating, especially when considering the destruction of property and looting. As Christians leaders, we know that racism does not come from God. It is important to hear what is being said, and be willing to stand up against hate, hate speech, and racism. Conversation is important, so you don’t want to shut that down; provide Biblical witness to what God expects and desires from God’s people.

Engage with the Biblical Witness

The General Commission on Religion and Race has a great collection of videos that deal with a whole host of race, racism, and justice issues. Each video includes a great study guide that will help you create helpful and meaningful lessons. You can find all the videos by going to

If you are looking for some specific passages of scripture to use for lessons try these:

  • John 15:12
    • Looking at Jesus as the standard in the way we treat others, including those of other races and ethnicities
  • Luke 10: 25 – 37
    • Parable of the Good Samaritan
    • The messageof the Good Samaritan is that everyone, even those normally considered an enemy, is your neighbor. This can easily be tied into relationships between groups of people.
  • John 4: 1- 26
    • Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well
    • In telling of the Samaritan woman, John showed his community that Jesus broke down barriers between people of different nationalities, that Jewish and Samaritan Jews would worship God in the same Spirit of God.

Racism is a sin. And as ministers it is our job to help those in our charge grow in holiness, reject the evil powers of this world, and seek to be agents of God’s change in the world. Hopefully these resources will be a starting place.

Scott has served in student ministry for over 30 years, the past 24 years at McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church in Norman, Oklahoma. Having grown up in an incredible and life-changing youth ministry at Pioneer United Methodist Church in Walla Walla, Washington, Scott got his start at Simpson United Methodist Church in Pullman, Washington while a student at Washington State University. Scott has a passion for missions and leadership development, and desires to create life-long disciples for Jesus Christ. Scott and his wife Kristin have a little girl, Laurel Kate.