Partner Feature | TreeHouse Youth

Youth Specialties
October 17th, 2018

There are thousands of hurting teens in the country and we’re going to reach every single one of them.

We’re going to reach the hard ones. The defiant ones. The ones that get under our skin. The ones who cut. The ones who get rushed to the hospital after an overdose.

Those are TreeHouse teens and we love them.

In 1979, our founder slid a piece of paper across a school principal’s desk and asked for the names of the kids he wished didn’t come to school that day. The names that were written on that paper became our first group of teens.   Since then, we’ve crafted everything we do to reach the teens who don’t seem to fit—at school, in their communities, or in most ministries.

We Get to the Core

At TreeHouse we don’t focus on changing behaviors, we focus on transformation from the inside out.

More than thirty years of experience confirmed that trying to get kids to act differently will just alienate and hurt them, reinforcing lies that they’re not good enough for God.  Instead, we teach teens the truth about their identity in light of God’s grace; and we walk alongside them as they learn to live out that identity over time.

To see teens transformed, we must love them right where they’re at, introducing them to a God who loves them and will patiently walk alongside them for the long-term.

We’re Intensely Relational

Every TreeHouse program is focused on building healthy relationships. Support Group is a place for teens to connect with one another, Going Deeper is a program where they can connect with God, and Mentoring is a place where they can connect with a caring adult.

Our relentless focus on relationships yields great benefits for teens. For many, TreeHouse is the first time they’ve had friends, the first time they’ve been able to be honest about what’s going on under the surface, or the first time they’ve had a caring adult in their life that didn’t have an ulterior motive.

The relational core of our ministry is seen most obviously in the connection between our teens and their mentors. Our teens crave time with their mentors, looking forward to fun, laughter and deep conversations.

We’re Safe

The first thing visitors notice when coming to TreeHouse is the teens’ raw honesty. They’re often shocked by the teens’ vulnerability, which is possible when there is no fear of judgment or rejection.

They talk about their family’s dysfunction.

They talk about selling drugs.

They open up about the things that make them feel most ashamed.

But those moments don’t happen automatically. They’re earned through the careful creation of a safe culture at all of our programs.

We have culture-affirming rules that teach teens how to interact to build deep, lasting relationships, while holding everyone accountable to a high standard of encouragement and love.

When teens misbehave we have a system for discipline that often leaves them feeling heard, loved, and encouraged.

We train staff to see the students through a lens of grace, so that when they hear the hard truth, they can respond without judgment, fear, or disgust.

We See God Moving

TreeHouse is on the move, rapidly expanding from our Minnesota roots across the country. We search out areas of high need and low resources, pursuing a way to reach the teens there.

As we engage in a community, we always find like-minded people in churches and nonprofits with a desire to reach the at-risk students in their backyard.

We work to empower those already serving their community rather than arrogantly coming in and setting up shop.

We shower them with training, curriculum, resources and relationships to make their ministry a success.

They become licensed TreeHouse partners, using our format, co-branding their programs with TreeHouse. 

We’re excited about our vision to reach every at-risk teen and even more excited to empower believers across the country to reach the teens they know need Jesus. 

“If it wasn’t for TreeHouse, I wouldn’t have been able to stop drinking, cutting, having suicidal thoughts and bullying.”

-Ramón, TreeHouse Teen

“TreeHouse taught me that God can fill any hole in my heart. I don’t need to look anywhere else for satisfaction.”

-Monique, TreeHouse Teen



For more information about Treehouse and information about becoming a Treehouse site, check out TreeHouse

Youth Specialties

Youth Specialties exists to elevate the role of youth ministry and the youth worker to grow the faith of the next generation.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.