Teenagers and the Church

May 5, 2010
Confirmation class

Confirmation class by Raymond Brown

It is that time of year.  Summer is just around the corner.  Colleges and High Schools are in the midst of graduation ceremonies and celebrations with all of their “pomp and circumstance”.  It is also the time of year when many churches confirm their newest, youngest members into full membership of Christ’s church.  Late last year, I heard a speaker who asked, “What do you do to make sure that confirmation is not interpreted as graduation in your church?”

Those words have stuck with me for months and I think are worth wrestling with for all of us.  He went on to talk about how we have a processional often times with them in robes, give them a certificate, make note of their achievement,  and dissolve their class (small group).  Why wouldn’t they think they have no graduated from learning in the church?

In the church I attend, twenty-two wonderful young teens were just confirmed.  I have also noticed that Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are filled with church announcements of their newly confirmed young members.  So all of that leads me to ask some questions that I believe we need to wrestle with in our churches regarding those who have just been confirmed.

1. How does your church keep these young people relationally connected with the same intensity they had during their confirmation class?

2. What processes are in place to provide leadership roles for these new young members?

3. How are they intentionally mentored into these roles of leadership?

4. How does your church purposefully offer them ways to answer God’s call on their lives, give of themselves, share their gifts and build up the body of Christ?


Church and School Grades are Related

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

10 Ways to Raise Children to USE Drugs

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:

  1. Obey their demands.
  2. Overlook, defend, or rescue them from the consequences of their negative behavior.
  3. Disregard moral principles.
  4. Avoid touching, hugging, and taking time to interact with your children.
  5. Ignore their worthwhile and constructive habits.
  6. Pretend you never make mistakes or have problems.
  7. Discourage thought and questions by demanding that they do what you want, when you want it done.
  8. Keep children constantly on guard by being unpredictable.
  9. Remain uninformed about drugs and drug use.
  10. 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?

Technology is Not Always the Enemy

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.

Kids Put Money to Work Serving Others

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?

10 Big Mistakes Parents Make

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?

Connections Really Matter to Children

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?