06.05.17

Hi! Happy June!! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send any prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Preaching is not only explaining the text but also using it to engage the heart. #keller
 
God put you here to glorify Him. That is why you’re here. And there will come a point in your life when you will realize that life is more about significance than it is about success. #laurie
 
Someone will always have better coffee, music, facilities, and speaking. Showcase Christ and his gospel. No one can improve on that. #wilson
 
FYI:

1. Connecting with college students over break: they’re bringing home more than their laundry…. https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/connecting-with-college-students?utm_source=E-Journal+%2F+Parent+Update&utm_campaign=19db082c32-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_05_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e88a54a953-19db082c32-312895925

2. Your kids actually want you to talk to them about sex… http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/24/health/sex-parents-talking-to-kids/index.html

3. What Screen Time and Screen Media Do To Your Child’s Brain and Sensory Processing Ability… https://handsonotrehab.com/screen-time-brain-sensory-processing/

4. 45 AWESOME DROP OF THE HAT ACTIVITIES (Below)
 
 
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
How to Teach Junior Highers Without Losing Your Mind by Kurt Johnston
Social Media Making Millennials Less Social by Uptin Saiidi
How We Got Here: Spiritual and Political Profiles of America by David Kinnaman
7 Deadly Sins of Student Ministry Volunteers by Chase Snyder
 

Here are 2 video links I think you might like to see:

http://www.videosforyouth.com/mini-movies/65332/searching-for-truth
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
Courage by Chuck Swindoll
 
Someone once wrote, “Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap your character. Sow your character, reap your destiny.”

Standing tall when tested takes courage—constant, relentless, never-give-up courage! You can be sure that the old flesh will fight for its arousal and satisfaction. All it takes is a little rationalization—just a little. Just look the other way. Just shrug it off. Don’t sweat it. And before long you have a rattlesnake in your sleeping bag. 

First: Standing tall starts with the way we think. It has to do with the mind. As I’ve said so often, being a person of inner strength is really a mental factor. It has to do with the way we think about God, ourselves, and others. Then it grows into the way we think about business, the way we think about dating, the way we think about marriage and the family, the way we think about the system that is designed to destroy faith and bring us down to a lower standard. 

Second: Standing tall calls for strong discipline. This has to do with the will. Disciplining the eyes, the ears, the hands, the feet. Keeping moral tabs on ourselves, refusing to let down the standards. People of strength know how to turn right thinking into action—even when insistent feelings don’t agree. 

Third: Standing tall limits your choice of personal friends. This has to do with relationships. What appears harmless can prove to be dangerous. Perhaps this is as important as the other two factors combined. Cultivate wrong friendships and you’re a goner. This is why we are warned not to be deceived regarding the danger of wrong associations. Without realizing it, we could be playing with fire. 

Sow the wind and, for sure, you’ll reap the whirlwind. Eagles may be strong birds, but when the wind velocity gets fierce enough, it takes an enormous amount of strength to survive. Only the ultrapowerful can make it through the whirlwind.

 

The Five RE’s to Remembering names:

1. Repeat Names

Repetition builds memory. This is why your math teacher assigned you 50 of the same math problems for homework every night. The more you repeat a person’s name, the better chance you will have of remembering it later.

When you meet a person for the first time, say their name as much as possible. “Cool, Austin. Glad you are here, Austin. It was nice meeting you, Austin. Hope to see you next week, Austin.” The more you say it, the more it will stick.

2. Read Names

Read a person’s name in your mind. Visualize it. Spell it in your head. If you meet someone with an interesting name or a name that could be spelled multiple ways, ask them how they spell it. Then spell it in your head along with them. This may seem weird, but it works.

I can remember the names of hundreds of NFL athletes even though I have never met them or seen most of their faces without a helmet on. Why? Because I read their names every day on my favorite NFL news site.

3. Record Names

Keep a church database, or an app with people’s names on it. After the service, write new names down as soon as possible. Add little notes like “Natalie – married, two kids, husband Jeff, works at…”

Quickly review your notes once a week and picture the people in your mind. If you have a church database with people’s pictures, that is even better!

4. Relate Names

This is the most powerful memory tip on the list. When you hear a person’s name, find an image to relate it to.

In the fascinating book, Moonwalking With Einstein, Joshua Foer writes about his experience transforming in one year from an average guy who was bad at remembering names to winning the US Memory Championship. This is a competition where you have to do things like look at a list of hundreds of names and faces, then remember all the names of each face.

“The secret to success in the names-and-faces event—and to remembering people’s names in the real world—is simply to turn Bakers into bakers—or Foers into fours. Or Reagans into ray guns. It’s a simple trick, but highly effective.” ~Joshua Foer, Moonwalking With Einstein

Our brains remember images, not words. So turning a person’s name into an image is the best way to instantly recall it. The more vivid and bizarre the image, the better.

5. Remember to Remember Names

I know, “Thank you captain obvious!” Just hear me out.

Most often, the reason that we don’t remember names is simply because we do not consciously make an effort. We hear the name, but we are too busy thinking about what we are going to say next. Maybe we are preoccupied with the stress of the service or what we have to do later. Whatever the reason, we don’t intentionally listen to the name and make a conscious effort to store it away.

If you are intentional about remembering people’s names, you will remember them.

Hope these tips are helpful for you.

 

HERE ARE 45 AWESOME DROP OF THE HAT ACTIVITIES THAT YOU CAN EASILY ADD TO YOUR YOUTH WORKER TOOL-BELT.

RANDOM FUN

  • Beanboozled. Russian Roulette with candy. Maybe you will enjoy a peach-flavored jelly bean or maybe it will taste like barf. Yum.
  • KAP IT. Water bottle flipping game, but with objectives and boundaries!
  • HEADS OR TAILS. A coin flipping game where kids guess by putting their hands on the head or tail. Guess right and stay in, guess wrong and you’re out!
  • HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES, CUP! Follow the instructions and be the first person to grab the cup.
  • Minute to win it! Sixty seconds to complete takes using random items from around the house. HERE ARE 30 EXAMPLES.
  • Giant cup stack. Play the cup stack game but consider giant cups or buckets. Fastest stacker wins.
  • Mannequin challenge. Have the children freeze in place while you play a worship song and capture the video.

TEACHING OR REVIEW

  • TRUE/FALSE CHAIR. Think musical chairs but with true and false questions!
  • Books of the Bible team challenge. Books are listed on craft sticks in baggies. one for OT one for NT. Challenge each team to put one set in order the fastest.
  • Globe beach balls. Pass the ball around and wherever your thumb lands, pray for them.
  • Tic tac toe review. Divide the class into 2 teams. Ask questions, team 1 tries to answer. If they are correct, they get the x, if wrong, the question goes to team 2. The first team to get 3 in a row wins.
  • Family feud. Play with whatever you were talking about in large group.
  • Review game or Bible trivia. Get bean bags that you toss and the kids race to pick up the bag and bring it back to you in order to answer the question.
  • Share missionary stories. Update the kids on what the church is doing overseas.
  • Bible drill.

GET THEM MOVING

  • Freeze dance. Play music while the kids dance and when the music pauses all the kids must freeze in place. If they take too long then they have to do 10 jumping jacks.
  • CHICKEN IN THE HEN HOUSE. Partners will make shapes using their body. Last to complete are out!
  • Impossible shot. Create a very challenging challenge for students to take turns trying.
  • SHIP SHORE. Very similar to Simon says but directionally focused.
  • Musical chairs.
  • Four corners. Use a mega dice or colors to switch things up!
  • Simon says / Jesus says. Follow the directions and the more the leader laughs the more fun this game will be for the kids.
  • Red light/green light or wax museum. Don’t let the game leader see you moving! 
  • Crows & cranes. The leader calls out either “Crows” or “Cranes.” This lets you know if you are the tagger or the person being tagged.
  • Indoor snowball fight. Either buy fake snowballs or wrinkle up paper and throw them at each other. Consider adding a twist like capture the flag or protect the president.
  • Hip hop to it! Have all the kids hop on one leg while playing Christian hip-hop. If they stop they are out, if they switch feet they are out. The winner is the last one hopping.

GET THEM QUIET

  • SILENT BALL. Leader counts down, “3, 2, 1, silent” and passes the ball to another person in the play area. Drop the ball, make a bad pass or make a sound and you’re out.
  • Guess the time. Choose a time like 60 seconds and everyone tries to guess how long that is. Start the timer and kids hop up when they think 60 seconds is over. Time doesn’t stop till last kid stands. Note time when first kid stands just to get reactions.
  • SLEEPING LIONS. The room of kids go to sleep and the lions try to get them to wake up by telling jokes or being silly. Anyone who wakes up becomes the lion.
  • DOGGIE, DOGGIE, WHO STOLE YOUR BONE. Similar to heads up seven up but with an object that the kids go get.
  • The Quiet Game. Teams have to sit absolutely still and quiet for a timed period. Anywhere from a minute to five minutes.

COMMUNITY BUILDING

EASY CLASSROOM GAMES

  • Pictionary.
  • Hangman.
  • Parachute games.
  • I spy.
  • Rock, paper, scissors and creative variations. Egg, chicken, eagle.
  • Relay Games.
  • Feather blowing competition. Kids try to blow one another’s feathers off a table using a straw.
  • Juggling contest.
  • Keep the balloon up.

Consider using lesson review words or phrases in these games.

05.15.17

Young Americans Are Killing Marriage by Ben Steverman

bloomberg.com
Millennials are lagging behind on the traditional markers of adulthood.

There’s no shortage of theories as to how and why today’s young people differ from their parents.

As marketing consultants never cease to point out, baby boomers and millennials appear to have starkly different attitudes about pretty much everything, from money and sports to breakfast and lunch.

New research tries to ground those observations in solid data. The National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University set out to compare 25- to 34-year-olds in 1980—baby boomers—with the same age group today. Researcher Lydia Anderson compared U.S. Census data from 1980 with the most recent American Community Survey 1  data in 2015.

The results reveal some stark differences in how young Americans are living today, compared with three or four decades ago.

In 1980, two-thirds of 25- to 34-year-olds were already married. One in eight had already been married and divorced. In 2015, just two in five millennials were married, and only 7 percent had been divorced.

Baby boomers’ eagerness to get married meant they were far more likely than today’s young people to live on their own. Anderson looked at the share of each generation living independently, either as heads of their own household or in married couples.

The chance that Americans in their late twenties and early thirties live with parents or grandparents has more than doubled. In 1980, just 9 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds were doing so. In 2015, 22 percent lived with parents or grandparents.

Millennials are also less likely than boomers to be living with kids—and to be homeowners.

It’s easy to look at these figures and say millennials are lagging behind their boomer parents. However, even as young Americans delay marriage, kids, and homeownership, they’re ahead of their parents by one measure: education.

There’s also no sign that young people today are lazier than three decades ago. In 1980, 74 percent of baby boomers reported that they had worked in the past week, the Census data show. In 2015, slightly more millennials, 77 percent, said they’d been to work in the past week.

Score another one for millennials.

04.10.17

What the Secularists are Missing by Eric Metaxas

breakpoint.org

Religion is good for you: emotionally, physically, and economically. Who knew? Not the secularists.

In 2000, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam published his groundbreaking book, “Bowling Alone.” Putnam argued that Americans’ reduced interest in civic engagement—by which he meant not only things of a political nature but also things like the PTA, Boy Scouts, groups like the Elks, and, yes, bowling leagues—had reduced the store of what is called “social capital.”

“Social capital” is what sociologist call “the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.”

This is more than theory. It gets to the heart of one of the pressing issues of our time: social and economic inequality. And while Americans, as a whole, prefer to bowl alone, this solitude isn’t equally distributed.

As Putnam documents in his most recent book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” one thing that separates children from families in the top 25 percent of households measured by income and education from their counterparts in the bottom twenty-five percent is social capital. The well-off parents featured in “Our Kids” were, if anything, exhaustingly engaged and enmeshed in far-reaching networks that made life better for their kids.

While we shouldn’t be surprised that good connections offer better-off kids a significant advantage over their poorer counterparts, there’s something else that provides another significant advantage: religious participation.

Churchgoing kids “are less prone to substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, and smoking), risky behavior (like not wearing seat belts), and delinquency (shoplifting, misbehaving in school, and being suspended or expelled).”

But the benefits of regular church attendance do not stop there. As Putnam tells us, “Compared to their unchurched peers, youth who are involved in a religious organization take tougher courses, get higher grades and test scores, and are less likely to drop out of high school.”

They also “have better relations with their parents and other adults, have more friendships with high-performing peers, are more involved in sports and other extracurricular activities.” In fact, churchgoing is so beneficial to academic performance that “a child whose parents attend church regularly is 40 to 50 percent more likely to go on to college than a matched child of nonattenders.”

Now, this is true regardless of socioeconomic status. The problem is that regular church attendance is increasingly tied to socioeconomic status. According to Putnam, while “weekly church attendance” among college-educated families since the late 1970s has remained more or less the same, it has dropped by almost a third among those with a high school diploma or less. The result is “a substantial class gap that did not exist” fifty years ago. It’s yet another way that poorer kids are falling behind their more affluent counterparts.

Given the benefits of regular church attendance, the insistence on minimizing the role of religion in American public life is, to put it mildly, perverse. Society hasn’t figured out how to reliably give poor kids access to the kinds of advantages, both material and intangible, that better-off kids take for granted.

But we, the Church, do know how to reach out to them and their families in Jesus’ name. We have millennia of experience in ministering to the least, the last, and the lost. And now we have evidence that this kind of ministry has benefits that few people, Christians or non-Christians, ever suspected.

Will today’s “cultured despisers” of religion pay heed? Probably not. But we owe it to the kids—all kids—to ignore those naysayers and to freely give them what we have freely received.

03.27.17

Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens by Claudia Dreifus

nytimes.com

 In a new book, “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” the social psychologist Adam Alter warns that many of us — youngsters, teenagers, adults — are addicted to modern digital products. Not figuratively, but literally addicted.

Dr. Alter, 36, is an associate professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University who researches psychology and marketing. We spoke for two hours last week at the offices of The New York Times. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity and brevity.

Q. What makes you think that people have become addicted to digital devices and social media?

A. In the past, we thought of addiction as mostly related to chemical substances: heroin, cocaine, nicotine. Today, we have this phenomenon of behavioral addictions where, one tech industry leader told me, people are spending nearly three hours a day tethered to their cellphones. Where teenage boys sometimes spend weeks alone in their rooms playing video games. Where Snapchat will boast that its youthful users open their app more than 18 times a day.

Behavioral addictions are really widespread now. A 2011 study suggested that 41 percent of us have at least one. That number is sure to have risen with the adoption of newer more addictive social networking platforms, tablets and smartphones.

How do you define “addiction”?

The definition I go with is that it has to be something you enjoy doing in the short term, that undermines your well-being in the long term — but that you do compulsively anyway.

We’re biologically prone to getting hooked on these sorts of experiences. If you put someone in front of a slot machine, their brain will look qualitatively the same as when they take heroin. If you’re someone who compulsively plays video games — not everyone, but people who are addicted to a particular game — the minute you load up your computer, your brain will look like that of a substance abuser.

We are engineered in such a way that as long as an experience hits the right buttons, our brains will release the neurotransmitter dopamine. We’ll get a flood of dopamine that makes us feel wonderful in the short term, though in the long term you build a tolerance and want more.

Do the designers of the new technologies understand what they’re doing?

The people who create video games wouldn’t say they are looking to create addicts. They just want you to spend as much time as possible with their products.

Some of the games on smartphones require you to give money as you play, so they want to keep you playing. The designers will build into a game a certain amount of feedback, in the same way that slot machines offer an occasional win to hold your interest.

Not surprisingly, game producers will often pretest different versions of a release to see which one is hardest to resist and which will keep your attention longest. It works.

For the book, I spoke with a young man who sat in front of his computer playing a video game for 45 consecutive days! The compulsive playing had destroyed the rest of his life. He ended up at a rehabilitation clinic in Washington State, reSTART, where they specialize in treating young people with gaming dependencies.

Do we need legislation to protect ourselves?

It’s not a bad idea to consider it, at least for online games.

In South Korea and China, there are proposals for something they call Cinderella laws. The idea is to protect children from playing certain games after midnight.

Gaming and internet addiction is a really serious problem throughout East Asia. In China, there are millions of youngsters with it, and they actually have camps where parents commit their children for months and where therapists treat them with a detox regime.

Why do you claim that many of the new electronic gadgets have fueled behavioral addictions?

Well, look at what people are doing. In one survey, 60 percent of the adults said they keep their cellphones next to them when they sleep. In another survey, half the respondents claimed they check their emails during the night.

Moreover, these new gadgets turn out to be the perfect delivery devices for addictive media. If games and social media were once confined to our home computers, portable devices permit us to engage with them everywhere.

Today, we’re checking our social media constantly, which disrupts work and everyday life. We’ve become obsessed with how many “likes” our Instagram photos are getting instead of where we are walking and whom we are talking to.

Where’s the harm in this?

If you’re on the phone for three hours daily, that’s time you’re not spending on face-to-face interactions with people. Smartphones give everything you need to enjoy the moment you’re in, but they don’t require much initiative.

You never have to remember anything because everything is right in front of you. You don’t have to develop the ability to memorize or to come up with new ideas.

I find it interesting that the late Steve Jobs said in a 2010 interview that his own children didn’t use iPads. In fact, there are a surprising number of Silicon Valley titans who refuse to let their kids near certain devices. There’s a private school in the Bay Area and it doesn’t allow any tech — no iPhones or iPads. The really interesting thing about this school is that 75 percent of the parents are tech executives.

Learning about the school pushed me to write, “Irresistible.” What was it about these products that made them, in the eyes of experts, so potentially dangerous?

You have an 11-month-old son. How do you interact with your technologies when you’re with him?

I try not to use my phone around him. It’s actually one of the best mechanisms to force me not to use my phone so much.

Are you addicted to this stuff?

Yeah, I think so. I’ve developed addictions from time to time to various games on my phone.

Like many of the people in the survey I mentioned earlier, I’m addicted to email. I can’t stop checking it. I can’t go to bed at night if I haven’t cleared my inbox. I’ll keep my phone next to my bed, much as I try not to.

The technology is designed to hook us that way. Email is bottomless. Social media platforms are endless. Twitter? The feed never really ends. You could sit there 24 hours a day and you’ll never get to the end. And so you come back for more and more.

If you were advising a friend on quitting their behavioral addictions, what would you suggest?

I’d suggest that they be more mindful about how they are allowing tech to invade their life. Next, they should cordon it off. I like the idea, for instance, of not answering email after six at night.

In general, I’d say find more time to be in natural environments, to sit face to face with someone in a long conversation without any technology in the room. There should be times of the day where it looks like the 1950s or where you are sitting in a room and you can’t tell what era you are in. You shouldn’t always be looking at screens.

03.27.17

Dear Parents of Teenagers, Here are 5 reasons you should keep your teens involved in youth group… by Greg Steir

Gregsteir.dare2share.org
 

Dear Parents of Teenagers,

Thanks for all you do to invest in the life of your teenager(s). You probably feel like an uber driver (ready to pick them up/drop them off when they call), coach (helping them perfect their sport), tutor (working with them on homework), guidance counsellor (preparing them for the future) and, sometimes, a jockey (pushing them to cross the finish line…without a whip of course!)…all wrapped up in one!

That’s why, with all the insane busyness of parenting a teen, it’s easy to let youth group attendance slide off the grid. It’s tempting to think, “My kid’s just too busy for a night of hanging out with other teenagers, playing some goofy games and hearing another Bible lesson.”

Believe me when I say, I understand the temptation. As a parent of a teenager (who has tons of homework, plays football and is not yet old enough to drive) my wife and I are constantly under pressure to measure every event through the lenses of what matters most. And we have decided that youth group attendance must be a priority. Although we view ourselves as the primary spiritual influence of our kids, we also believe that a strong youth ministry plays a vital role in his overall spiritual development.

With this as a backdrop here are 5 short, yet powerful, reasons you should encourage (make?) your teenager(s) go to youth group:

1.  Teenagers need models and mentors.

“O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come. “  Psalm 71:17,18

In the Jewish culture it wasn’t just parents that poured into the younger folks. Older men poured into younger men and older women poured into younger women (Titus 2:1-8.)

Of course you as a parent are called to be the primary spiriutal mentor of your own teenager but he/she also needs other godly adults! It’s important for your son or daughter to see that this whole “Christianity thing” is more than just mom’s and dad’s belief system. They need to have models and mentors that reinforce all of the spiritual truth they are learning from you.

2.  Teenagers need community.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:24,25

In an age of bullying, gossip, slander and hatefulness (which can destroy a teenager’s self-identity), young people need other young people who can lift them up, encourage them and challenge them in all the right ways.

Youth group is also a place where teenagers can discover their spiritual gifting and begin to use it to serve others. This will help them have a heart to selflessly serve others for the rest of their lives!

3.  Teenagers need mission.

When Jesus challenged his most-likely teenaged disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations”, he was tapping into the activist wiring of these young men. In the same way your teenager needs challenged with the mission to reach their peers with the good news of Jesus in a loving and contagious way.

Youth group is a place where your teenager can invite their unbelieving friends to hear the gospel. But it’s also a place where they can be equipped to share the good news of Jesus with their own peers (which will help them grow in their faith!) As your youth leader continues to build a Gospel Advancing ministry the message of Jesus will advance in them and through them. This process will accelerate the disicpleship process in the life of your teen in ways you could never imagine!

4.  Teenagers need theology.

“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”  Ephesians 4:14,15

Youth group is a place where teenagers can wrestle through the theology you’ve been teaching them (you’ve been teaching them right?) and have it reinforced in a powerful and personal way under the guidance of a youth leader who knows how to ask great questions and point teens to sound truth.

This should result in your teenagers knowing and owning their faith on a deeper level. Youth groups and small groups should be a place where teenagers can ask tough questions and even share doubts and struggles with their beliefs without fear of rebuke. Skilled youth leaders can take questioning teens back to God’s Word as the source of authority and help them process through all of the Biblical truth you are praying they grasp, believe and live out.

Great youth groups build on the foundation that godly moms and dads have laid. And, for those teenagers who don’t have believing parents, an effective youth ministry helps lay a solid foundation of Biblical truth for the rest of a teenager’s life.

5.  Teenagers need a safe place to confess and confide.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16

Often teenagers who struggle with sin and temptation have nowhere to confess and confide. They feel trapped by their sins. But a healthy youth ministry can create a safe space for teenagers to open up and talk honestly about their struggles. Of course this doesn’t mean they should confess every sin to everyone. But it does mean that they should have a handful of others who know their struggles and can pray for and encourage them to walk in victory over those sins.

When my son came back from a youth retreat last year he had this opportunity. He opened up with a handful of others about some of his struggles and then he came back and opened up to me. After he confessed his struggles he told me that he felt a thousand pound weight had dropped off his back.

Here’s the thing, my son and I have a very strong and very open relationship. But there was something about his band of brother friends, under the leadership of a caring adult in a youth retreat type setting, that gave him the freedom to confess and confide.

Skilled youth leaders know how to create a context of open and honest dialogue. Teenagers who push their struggles down and never open up often struggle later on in life with addictive and destructive behavior. An effective youth ministry can help teenagers deal with these challenges now and prepare them to be victorious both now and later.

Yes, I know that teen life is busy. But it would be a shame if our teenagers graduated from high school and were catapulted into “the real world” without every opportunity to know, live, share and own their faith.

At the end of the day, our teenagers embracing and embodying the Christian faith is more important than sports and more important than academics. Getting them involved in a healthy, vibrant youth ministry is worth fitting into a crazy, busy schedule. And if it’s not quite as healthy as you think it should be then why don’t you volunteer and make it better?

There’s too much at stake for us to get this wrong. So let’s get it right!

02.20.17

The Most Common Mistakes Parent Make by Tim Elmore

growingleaders.com

Recently, I was interviewed by pediatrician Dr. Meg Meeker for her podcast. The theme was the topic of my book, Twelve Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid. During the course of our conversation, several concepts were discussed that I felt you’d benefit from in a blog post. I have included them here.

1. In your book: Twelve Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, you talk about what we parents do that keep our kids from succeeding in life. First of all—what do you consider to be successful parenting?

To me, successful parenting is leading and developing your child so that they can function as well-adjusted adults and reach their potential. This means we must think PREPARE, not just PROTECT. Our “test” is to love them in a healthy manner, so that they can replicate that love as healthy adults themselves. How they turn out is our “report card.” (Certainly, there are unique situations with special needs kids where a different report card should be used, such as higher levels of self-regulation).

2. Parents today work harder to get parenting “right” than I’ve ever seen in 30 years. But sometimes trying so hard makes parents too “good.” You write about Mistake #1- We won’t let our kids fail. Why do they need to fail? This sounds important but from a practical standpoint, tell me specifically what parents should do to let their kids fail. Should they set them up to fail?

Today, we have a large population of parents—millions of us—who “over-function.” We’ve been so intent on nurturing the self-esteem and safety of our children that we did too much.  We didn’t want to “mess it up.” In fact, two extremes are happening in our homes today: abandonment and abundance. Adults are not present to mentor their children or they are doing too much, leaving children helpless to know how to do things for themselves. Both extremes leave the young adult ill-equipped for life after childhood.  First and foremost is: We won’t let our kids fail.

Why won’t we let them fail?

  1. We feel like WE are a failure as parents when our kids fail.
  2. We are often living out our unlived life through our children.
  3. We assume failure will damage their self-esteem.
  4. We somehow assume that good parents never allow a negative experience to happen to their child. (In actuality—negative experiences foster the most growth. If we raise kids as fragile, they’ll surely become fragile adults).

For example, I’ve seen dozens of parents at Starbucks doing their child’s homework for them. I read about one mom who tried to take a standardized test for her teenage daughter. In 2014, one in twelve Millennials brought their parent to a job interview.

So, what are some steps we can take on this issue? First, parents should not set their kid up for failure. We should never desire our kids to fail. However, most of us would admit that our greatest growth in life occurred when we failed at something. Life will provide tough times and we should not PREVENT those times. But we should PREPARE our kids for them and be there to PROCESS those tough times with them. As they mature, we should loosen the reigns and allow our kids to navigate challenging consequences.

Consider the message we send our kids when we won’t let them deal with a difficult experience: “Bless your heart. You don’t have it in you to handle this. You need me…” Instead, we should observe their growth, encouraging them to take on opportunities that will stretch them—encourage tasks that lie somewhere between STRETCHED and OVERWHELMED. Then, as they mature, its best to lead with questions not imperatives.  (Why do you think that happened? How did it make you feel? How could you have handled it differently?)

3. Mistake #3 is one I love: we prioritize happiness. Why shouldn’t raising happy kids be a parenting goal?

I’ve heard countless parents say: “I just want my children to be happy.” It’s only natural. But happiness makes a horrible goal. However, it makes a wonderful by-product. You pursue purpose and find satisfaction. Albert Einstein said: “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” When happiness is a goal—we shop for it, we date and marry for it; we try to find it in people and places that can’t provide it. Spouses can’t constantly entertain us. I remember John Maxwell’s wife, Margaret, answering a question from a spouse at a conference: “Does John make you happy?” She shocked everyone by saying, “No, he doesn’t.” Then, she proceeded to say, “I learned a long time ago that I must find a way to be happy without depending on someone else to do it for me…not even my husband. Then, I was able to expect realistic outcomes from my marriage that John could actually fulfill.” That’s brilliant.

4. Many parents realize that disciplining kids is hard—no matter what the child’s age. They know they should be consistent and make consequences stick. Why don’t they? These are two mistakes you write about. What can parents do to make consequences stick? Many feel so overwhelmed with being consistent in discipline.

Yes. Parents often return home from a busy job and they’re already exhausted. If they feel spent they often don’t feel it’s in them to level consequences because it’s WORK. Another reason we aren’t consistent is because we feel our kids need grace. After all, they are overwhelmed too. They’re stressed out. I’ve written before that stress levels in high school students today is equal to that of a psychiatric patient in 1950s.

But the truth is, consistency and steady consequences offer security to kids. Consequences are predictable in an unpredictable world. They provide boundaries in an “anything goes” world and they communicate love because you care enough to follow through. To make consequences stick, stop talking about rules and start enforcing “equations.” If they make THIS choice, there are benefits. Making THAT choice brings consequences. Life is full of equations and we must introduce them to our children early on.

5. Mistake #6 – We lie about their potential. We all see our kids through rose-colored glasses. Isn’t this a good thing? How can we be our child’s #1 fan and be realistic about their potential? What if a parent has a child that isn’t good at anything?

Every kid wants to hear Mom or Dad say they’re “awesome” early in life. But by the time they reach late elementary school and middle school, kids are comparing parents’ comments with peers and others. If Mom is the only one saying, “You’re awesome!” they begin to question our judgment. Or, they stop really believing us. I believe there is a way to affirm our children without being dishonest or exaggerating.  Hyperbole is not necessary. We’ve all watched American Idol…where a young person tries to sing and we wonder quietly, “Who are your friends?” I believe we must be honest in our praise and stop all the hyperbole. Instead, Carol Dweck reminds us to affirm variables that are in their control. Instead of saying, “You’re smart.” Say, “I love the strategy you used on that math problem.” Instead of saying: “You’re gorgeous!” Say, “I love how honest and empathetic you are with your friends. You are as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside.”

02.13.17

Why Millennials Are Staying in the Nest by Jonathan McKee

youthministry.com
It’s the American dream: Grow up, attend the right school, graduate…and then move into Mom’s basement! Okay, maybe that last part is the new “amended” dream.

A record number of 20-somethings are opting to live at home rather than leave the nest. Specifically, 40 percent of American Millennials (young people ages 20 to 35) currently live with their parents. By comparison, that number was 27 percent back in 1991, when I got my first apartment at age 21.

Why aren’t young adults spreading their wings?

Money Matters

At first glance, Millennials seem quite “spendy.” After all, at their age we didn’t walk into work sipping a $4 coffee and thumbing an $800 iPhone. More than 45 percent of 18- to 23-year-olds have spent more on coffee than investing in their retirement. And yes, they love their phones. Almost all young adults own smartphones, and about two-thirds subscribe to on-demand video services such as Netflix or Hulu (with many mooching off a parent’s account).

Despite studies showing that Millennials struggle to manage their finances, we “older folks” can show a little understanding.  Let’s step into their shoes for a moment (something I wish I would’ve done more as a parent)…

The Real Numbers

First, apartment rent is higher than ever. It increased 4.6 percent in 2015 alone, the biggest leap since before the recession. I know several Millennials who were on their own but recently moved back home (as “boomerang kids”) when their monthly rent went up by three digits.

Rent hikes are a drop in the bucket compared to the mountainous spikes in education costs. In 1980, the average annual cost of tuition, room, board, and fees at a four-year college was $9,438. Now it’s $23,872! That’s a 260 percent increase, and it’s staggering when compared to the 120 percent increase in all consumer items. And compared to 1980, up to 19 percent more young people are completing at least four years of college.

Higher costs mean greater debt. The average debt burden for college graduates has more than doubled within the Millennial Generation. On graduation day, members of the class of 2016 were strapped with an average of $37,172 in student loans, compared to $18,271 for the class of 2003. Most students take 10 years to pay off that debt, forking out an average of $429 monthly. (Or 7.5 years if they pay an extra $100 a month.)

Maybe that’s why more than one-third of graduates regret going to college because of the debt. In fact:

  • 49 percent believe they would have reached the same level in their career even if they hadn’t gone to college.
  • 63 percent say they’re relying on a one-off event, such as winning the lottery or getting an inheritance, to pay off student loans.

But at least this better-educated generation is earning more than their parents, right? Sadly, not much. Here’s where the numbers differ. A new analysis of Federal Reserve data claims that Millennials, with a median household income of $40,581, actually earn 20 percent less than Baby Boomers did at the same life stage. The report states, “Education does help boost incomes, but the median college-educated millennial with student debt is only earning slightly more than a Baby Boomer without a degree did in 1989.” And the median net worth of Millennials is 56 percent less than it was for Boomers.

Sounds bleak. But just a few years ago, Pew Research revealed a more optimistic picture, showing a slight increase in income by generation when using today’s dollars. It also revealed a greater disparity in income between college and high school grads. For example, in 2015 a person with a bachelor’s degree made an average of $1,980 more per month than someone with just a high school diploma. (An extra $2,000 a month sure helps pay off that college debt!)

So how are “on-their-own” Millennials paying bills? With their thumbs. When they’re on their phones, young adults aren’t just scrolling through Snapchat stories.

  • They’re thumbing rides because they don’t own cars. In fact, more than half either don’t intend to purchase a car or don’t consider that a priority. Only 15 percent of Millennials say a vehicle is really important. Another 25 percent say it’s important but not a big priority.
  • Millennials also moonlight, using their skills to earn extra money. The networking site LinkedIn says the number of young adults who freelance on the side is growing logarithmically, far faster than the number of full-time freelancers.
  • Young adults also tend to be savvy shoppers. Most shop with phone in hand, comparing prices and searching for the best deals. Millennials are actually less likely than previous generations to buy something simply because it’s convenient. Instead, they focus on value.

Keep Talking!

Parents should resist the urge to say, “When I was your age…” Because, all things being equal, you’ll also have to admit, “I made more, paid less in rent, paid less for school, and spent way more money on my car!”

Instead, engage in practical conversations (not lectures) about budgeting and spending . My dad showed me how to make a budget on a napkin. He let me choose how to spend my money, but I had to make a budget and stick with it. If I wanted to spend half my money on girls (I did), then that was my choice (a bad one). But I learned to notice what I spent.

If your kids spend too much on Starbucks, don’t forbid it; just make them track their spending. They might think twice when they sit down at month’s end and have to write “coffee, $96.”

Help your kids think about the future. If they’re in college, take them to dinner and affirm them. Share ways their hard work now will pay off later. Show them numbers from the sources above, if that helps.

If you have high schoolers or middle schoolers, still take them out to dinner and affirm them. Discuss their educational goals and provide information to guide their decisions. Show your kids charts revealing the income disparity between people who earn degrees and those who don’t.

If you have toddlers, take them to Chuck E. Cheese and jump in the ball pit together. Then, when you tuck them in at night, read books. Readers are learners, and your kids will probably want to go to college before you even bring it up.

02.06.17

Survey Shows Youth Sports Specialization Accelerating by Bob Cook

forbes.com

A report released by a major sporting goods association is putting a number on what anyone involved with children and athletics is seeing — kids increasingly specializing in fewer sports.

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s annual report on athletic participation, released in December, notes that in 2015, more than 28.6 million children ages 6-17 played a team sport in 2015, up nearly 3 million from 2013 and 2 million from 2014. However, the average number of sports played by those kids is dropping: from 2.09 in 2013, to 2.01 in 2014 to 1.89 in 2015. The peak age for participation, the survey said, is 12.

This is happening even though the evidence shows that early specialization doesn’t give kids any advantages in the long-term, and is likely responsible for an increasing rate of sports-related injuries among youth.

However, I’m also wondering if this decline in the number of sports played per child may also be related to two items SFIA cite as a threat to participation: a lack of money, and a lack of free time.

While SFIA is worried that cost will keep kids from playing sports at all, I wonder if leagues fees (not just for travel leagues, but also for recreational leagues) and pay-to-play requirements at some schools are forcing parents to choose only a few activities, rather than signing up younger kids for a lot of different sports. SFIA also notes that a challenge to organized sports is kids increasingly having more options for activities, but less free time in which to participate in them.

I know in my own house, especially once my kids got to around the age of 10, we and our kids had to make decisions on what activities would stay, and what would go, because those activities seemed to demand more and more time, and we didn’t have it.

With that in mind, you can see why the sports and fitness industry is worried about how these trends will affect purchases of their products, and the financial future of their stores, which big names such as Dick’s Sporting Goods are looking for revenue streams that aren’t so dependent on kids buying sports equipment.

01.30.17

Selfie Generation’s Self-Image Struggle by Dale Hudson
relevantchildrensministry.com
Kids are growing up in selfie culture.  To fit in, they are expected to post a selfie before, during and after every activity.  They then watch closely for the resulting likes, thumbs-up and other ratings to tally.
It’s a great way to share experiences and memories.  The downside?  It can turn into a self-image measurement.  It affects how kids view themselves.  Recent studies show that…
  • 35 percent are worried about people tagging them in unattractive photos.
  • 27 percent feel stressed about how they look in posted photos.
  • 22 percent felt bad about themselves if their photos were ignored.

Here are a few examples of the selfie culture kids are growing up in.

 
Instagram. 
The number of followers, likes, and emojis kids can collect gets competitive, with users often begging for them.  Instagram “beauty pageants” and other photo-comparison activities crop up, with losers earning a big red X on their pics.
Snapchat.
Numerical scores display the total number of sent and received chats.  You can view your friends’ scores to keep tabs on who’s racking up the most views.
Hot or Not. This quintessential rating app lets you judge the attractiveness of others based on a series of photos, tapping either a heart sign or an X to to rank them.  Users log in to see what others think of them.
#tbh. 
When Instagram users type “#tbh,” they’re indicating either that they want others to honestly appraise their selfies or they’re expressing their true feelings about someone else’s looks.  Examples: “#tbh am I pretty?” or “#tbh I think you’re really pretty.”  Although #tbh is usually positive, it can get negative in specific and hurtful ways, and even when it stays positive, it reinforces the idea that appearance is what matters most.
YouTube – “Am I pretty or ugly?”
Kids – mostly girls – post videos of themselves asking if other users think they’re pretty or ugly.  These videos are typically public, allowing anyone – from kids at school to random strangers – to post a comment.
Social media tools can be very influential in a kid’s view of themselves.  While it can bolster self-esteem, it can also hurt it.  It is critical that we help the selfie generation navigate through this struggle.
Help kids discover the foundation of their self-image.We must teach kids that their self-image is based not on how others see them on social media, but on how God sees them.  When we help them see that who they are in Christ is more important than what they look like, it will give them sustaining confidence, even when they get a thumbs down on social media.
Provide caring volunteer leaders.  Volunteers who care about kids have an enormous effect on them.  Challenge volunteers to invest in the kids and speak words of life and encouragement into their lives.  Of course, the primary adults who mold a child’s self-esteem is his or her parents, but kids also need another adult besides their parents to invest in them.
 
Teach kids to be leaders.  Kids can make a positive impact when they lead the way in posting constructive comments about others on social media.
 
Help them see the true picture.  Kids often compare themselves to the media images of celebrities and models.  But they may not understand that these images are often retouched and enhanced.  Yes, the people may be attractive, but it is not real life and not a standard by which they should compare themselves.
As the kids in your ministry face the challenges of growing up in a selfie generation, God wants to use you and your team to give them a true picture of who they are in Christ.

01.23.17

The Parents Guide to Bullying

youthministrymedia.ca

It’s estimated that approximately 10 percent of teenagers struggle with anxiety.

Kid’s today are more stressed out and more anxious than ever.  We recently had a trustee from the school board to meet with our church staff to talk about the issues facing student today in our community, and he said that students are more anxious than ever.

This was something that you can see as an issue, but not being such a big one.  In a world where we mask everything online.  We only project our best selves, teenagers are more anxiously moving through the world.

When you think about a teenagers world, you realize that there is no off switch.  They are connected 24/7.  Having that digital connection to the world fuels self doubt and anxiety.  When I was a kid, no one would bully me at home, because no matter what my room was a safe zone.  Today, kids and teenagers who have digital devices don’t have a safe space.

I came across this infographic on bullying.  It’s called, “The Parents Guide To Bullying.”  It’s worth checking out.

Here are some stats that stand out:

  • 85% of Bullying happens inside the school.  Do teachers even know it’s going on?  I am sure they are aware, but are they made aware of the issues facing the students?  This past year we had an issue with my son in his grade 1 class.  He was being called a name that made fun of his real name.  We tried to help him resolve the issue, but in the end, it was a note and conversation that helped resolve the bullying.
  • 80% of bullying acts aren’t reported to parents.  Parents have no idea what is going on.  Parents today are busy.  Usually both parents are working full time jobs, and dealing with their kids hobbies.  Parents are so busy today that they don’t realize that their kid has or is being bullied at school.
  • 43% of kids have been bullied online.  Every time that I talk with a student about their online habits, it always comes out that they have no boundaries.  Because there are no boundaries, they are exposed to bullying and other online dangers.   Parents who have teenagers were never raised in a digital world.  They need help from youth workers in their church.  This is where you can come in and help the parent understand why boundaries are a great thing for their kid.

What should we do?

  1. Help parents be present and aware of where their kid is at.  Asking the right questions and help open a dialogue.  Are they struggling at school?  Why are they reserved at home?  Why don’t they talk to those friends anymore?
  2. Help parents be an advocate at school.  I always know when a parent feels helpless with their kid at school.  It’s really easy to complain about it, but we need to help parents be advocates for their kids.  If their kid is being bullied at school this isn’t acceptable.  The teacher should be brought into the loop, and potentially the principal.
  3. Help parents set up digital boundaries at home.  We always recommend circle by disney.  It’s the best device for setting up parameters and filtering content at home or on each device.  This is the best thing on the market, and we will see more of this in the future.  You will be a hero for just sharing this device with a family (You might have to help them set it up!).