July 28, 2008
It can be a useful tool for establishing and building relationships with teens
I just spent a wonderful week at the LOGOS Youth Conference with about fifty other adults and 130 high school students. There was one young man there (from one of my small groups) who had to cut short his participation because of some personal issues. He left the Conference early to go back home. He lives about four hours from my town so it’s not likely that I’ll see him again.
However, just the other night he and I had an online conversation through Facebook when he saw that I was signed in. He decided to contact me and ask how I was doing. We “chatted” for several minutes about his upcoming weekend plans and specifically about a party that he was thinking about attending even though he knew he probably shouldn’t. We hadn’t talked that much when we were in the same room the week before…and certainly not in nearly such an in-depth conversation about making good choices.
So…I discovered that the internet isn’t all bad. You hear lots of things about the potential dangers of social networks like Facebook and Myspace, and although it’s a good idea to use caution and common sense, it doesn’t mean that great ministry can’t take place through them! Helping young people connect to God isn’t easy! But we’re at a severe disadvantage if we don’t keep up with the methods kids use to communicate with each other…methods they are comfortable with and use with their friends.
So, while we don’t want to be foolish enough to try to behave like an age we’re not, we certainly need to be comfortable using the technology teenagers are using as a means of building relationships with them.
July 14, 2008
When given some direction and the opportunity, kids can do some amazing things that show they are learning Christ’s message for all of us
Inspired by the Oprah Winfrey’s “Big Give” show, a parent at First Presbyterian Church in Huntington, WV donated $1,000 to each LOGOS Bible class with the instructions that the class was to use the money to “…do something good in the name of Christ for someone else.” From kindergarten through high school, the students came up with some creative ideas to use the money and to do something good.
One class used the money to purchase sleeping bags for another church to be used to send their children to summer camp. Another class spent an afternoon with the same children and used the money to pay for pizza and games for a whole lot of fun. Second graders collected and made up fifty “health kits” that the church’s mission team took to a church in Peru. Another class purchased soccer balls to be taken on that same trip to Peru and distributed to local children. Birthday bags for a local hospital were assembled for children in a West Virginia hospital for “instant birthday” celebrations, and books for a hospital bookmobile were another project from two more classes. Yet another class came up with the idea to purchase toys for the play area of a local “people in need” collection center so children could play while their parents shopped.
The 9th grade Confirmation class and the 10-12th grade class combined their seed money to fund a 5k walk-run for the community that raised $8,000 for Hope Unlimited, an organization that aids children on the street in Brazil. They had recently been studying what it means to put faith into action!
All projects were videotaped, and the church is in the process of editing the footage to be presented for their LOGOS Sunday worship in late July. What are some other ideas that you could share that your church has done to help young people learn how to put their faith into action?
July 8, 2008
An article appeared on the web today from MSN entitled, 10 Big Mistakes Parents Make. It is interesting to note that all 10 of these somehow related to boundaries, discipline, time and commitment to parenting, and the big favorite word around here at the LOGOS Ministry, RELATIONSHIPS. There is not much here that is earth shattering. However, parenting experts, children’s ministries like LOGOS, schools, and mental health professionals are saying the same thing, which really boils down to this list. Yet they don’t seem to be able do it. I just had a conversation with a pastor who indicated one of the biggest challenges he faces is parents who don’t set guidelines and expectations for church participation and behavior.
The reality to this is that parents are busy, taxed, and overwhelmed by the rate of change in today’s world. They just don’t know how to put it all together. That is why this list is so helpful because it boils it down into a succinct message. The only thing I would add and actually make number one on the list is:
1. Not being the spiritual guide for their children.
You can read the whole list here, 10 Big Mistakes, and then tell us what you think?
July 2, 2008
The happiness of children is strongly affected by the quality and quantity of the human connections that they have in their young lives
A recent article in the May 2008 addition of American Baby magazine (7 Secrets to Raising a Happy Child) reminds us yet again of the importance of human connectedness to the welfare of young children. Among seven factors affecting the sense of well-being and happiness in our youngest, author Marguerite Lamb identifies “fostering connections” as the “…surest way to promote your child’s emotional well-being…” She supports her assertion with some compelling comments by various authorities.
One of the most interesting statements comes from Christine Carter, PhD, Executive Director of the University of California at Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center. In the article, Dr. Carter points out that, “We know from 50 years of research that social connections are an incredibly important, if not the most important, contributor to happiness…and it’s not just the quality, but also the quantity of the bonds.” Her observations are strongly supported by Edward Hallowell, MD, a child psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, who says that, “A connected childhood is the key to happiness.” These comments clearly echo the very powerful messages that we hear in Hardwired to Connect, the remarkable report and video of the same name produced in 2003 by the Commission on Children at Risk as a result of a major study of American youth.
At LOGOS, we have always said that relationships are central to effective ministry…especially inter-generational connections between kids and adults of all ages. Today you really can’t pick up an article on ministry with children or youth and not see a clear reference to the power of relationships. In fact, they have replaced programs and activities as the cornerstones of effective ministry with kids.
Check out our Children’s Ministry Effectiveness Model to see all of the factors that we have discovered have an impact on ministry effectiveness. How does your ministry stack up?