August 29, 2008
A mother finds her way back to church and to the love of Christ
As many as seven out of eight young people will leave the church by the time they are 22 years old! This is what recent research estimates. It does not surprise me as I look around at the distracting and disturbing culture our young people face, but mostly it does not surprise me because I was in that group of seven.
I did come back to join the church five years ago, but only because I grew up in the church and felt my children should know the comfort of God. Comfort, much like a teddy bear or a “blankie”. I don’t need a teddy bear, but I know my children needed one so I sought to provide one for them. This was very similar to my view on God’s role in my family’s life – I will give them access to God, but I don’t need Him… or so I thought.
God gives us the freedom to hear Him or not. When my mother died a year and a half ago from lung cancer I finally listened to the voice I had ignored for so long. It was then that I realized not only how much I need God but also how much we all need Him equally – the rich, the poor, the old, the young. I am so glad He keeps calling to us and so grateful to have finally become the one out of eight that returns to the church.
I have spent the last year and a half learning about God and marveling over His Grace in my life and all around me. I have also spent a great deal of time pondering His call to me. I often feel like Peter or Jeremiah, unsure, unsteady yet completely overwhelmed by His power and love. I guess it was that power and love that brought me to a LOGOS training event in Bethlehem PA this summer. It was the most amazing educational and spiritual experience that I knew it would be since I had already fallen in love with the LOGOS program at my church.
I don’t know if I would have become that one child out of eight and found my way back to the church if it weren’t for a mother who loved God and a childhood church with a wonderful and loving children’s program. I have thought about that church a lot recently. That is where I first met the Jesus I now know and love. It is like being reunited with an old and wonderful friend – “Hey friend, I remember you!” It is life coming full circle.
I want our children to meet and hold on to God. If they do fall away because life seems to lead us that way sometimes, I hope we will be His hands and feet and give them what they need to find their way back. This is my prayer, and this is why what we do with our children and youth at our church and in every part of our lives is so important.
God bless you all and thanks for allowing me to share this. ~ Leigh
August 26, 2008
For years, The LOGOS Ministry has pointed to the Search Insitutes’s Asset Building as valuable information for preventing at-risk behavior in young people. One primary reason we have done this is the relationship between healthy young people and church involvement especially when there are cross generational opportunities. This type of involvement and these relationships help to provide the arena for a healthy outlook on life that diminishes involvement in at-risk behavior. Recently, we have also referred to the “Hardwired to Connect” study, which came to a similar conclusion as it emphasized the need for authentic communities to foster these relationships.
Now, recent information places a correlation between a student’s grades and church attendance. A recent study from the University of Notre Dame indicates that students who attend church weekly have a higher GPA than those who never attend and a lower drop out rate. So why is this? “The study does not suggest God is smiling on the students, per se. Rather, it identifies several reasons the students do better:
- They have regular contact with adults from various generations who serve as role models.
- Their parents are more likely to communicate with their friends’ parents.
- They develop friendships with peers who have similar norms and values.
- They’re more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.”
It should come as no surprise to any of us that an intentional focus on building young disciples also has the benefit of building emotionally and mentally healthy young people who are more likely to trade at-risk behavior for community and grades.
You can read more about this here at livescience.com
August 18, 2008
The newest study, the annual survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University points directly to parents for contributing to drug and alcohol use among kids ages 12 to 17. Some of the the research indicated that:
-One-quarter of teens said they know a parent of a classmate or friend who uses marijuana and 10% of those teens said this parent smokes marijuana with teens;
-Just under 30% of those who come home between 8 and 10 p.m. said they had been drinking or using drugs;
-It is easier for teenagers to obtain prescription drugs than beer;
-Forty-two percent of teenagers said they can buy marijuana in one day or less.
In doing more research on this topic, I came across this information which I think is pertinent to us as we raise up our children to to be life long disciples of Jesus. The following comes from the website http://www.onteenstoday.com and is a guest post from Leah Davies, M.Ed. It is entitled, 10 Ways to Raise Children to Use Drugs. Here they are:
- Obey their demands.
- Overlook, defend, or rescue them from the consequences of their negative behavior.
- Disregard moral principles.
- Avoid touching, hugging, and taking time to interact with your children.
- Ignore their worthwhile and constructive habits.
- Pretend you never make mistakes or have problems.
- Discourage thought and questions by demanding that they do what you want, when you want it done.
- Keep children constantly on guard by being unpredictable.
- Remain uninformed about drugs and drug use.
- Above all else, discount your own value as a human being.
You can read a full elaboration of these 10 points at Teens Today. I think if you read the full body to all ten points, you will see how easy it is to become comfortable and think it could never happen to me.
Ultimately, the key is a strong healthy relationship with your children that fosters their growth into healthy adults and lifelong disciples. Why is it we just don’t take Proverbs 22:6 seriously?
August 12, 2008
Reaching out to kids in need isn’t always easy or convenient, but it is what Jesus expects from us.
I woke up early this morning with “Feed my sheep” the first thing on my mind. I’ve never heard God audibly speak to me, but I had a very strong impression that this was a message directly for the leaders and volunteers across the US and Canada involved in ministry to young people. And so I’m writing to you now.
LOGOS has always said, “Growing up in today’s world is tough!” That was true when we first started it and likely will always be true. It’s not getting any less tough, is it? About a week and a half ago, some of the property where I attend church was vandalized. Two storage sheds were covered with spray-painted graffiti when we arrived to worship on Sunday morning. It was big and it was bold and colorful. We’re talking about a church that is nestled into a quiet neighborhood in a quiet suburb. If it can happen here, it can happen everywhere. And it does…whether we’re talking about graffiti on a church (they hit the Seventh Day Adventist Church across the street too), mall shootings, self-mutilation, anger, frustration, hopelessness…you probably have your own stories of children and youth in your communities….kids in trouble and in need.
Are you ready to help? Have we “girded our loins” to be prepared to welcome the lost sheep in our midst? It’s easy (most of the time) to minister to the “good” kids…isn’t it? I know that my heart soars when I have a group of young people in Bible study who really love to dive into the scripture, who have read it before and love to talk about ways to apply it to their lives. I’m totally guilty of preferring to teach that group. But what about the ones who are angry with God, who have never really seen Christ’s love demonstrated, or have gotten off-track and now no one wants to “deal” with them?
Three times Jesus lays forth the challenge, “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.” Are we ready to walk with these young people through their very cluttered, foggy, challenging faith journey?