Tag Archives: Academics

6 Steps to Parent Meeting Success

If you haven’t figured it out yet, parents are important to your success in youth ministry or student ministry. And by success, I mean the spiritual growth, depth, and love for the Savior in the teens in your youth group. I say that, because you can grow your youth group by numbers without the aid of parents, whether it is by heavy programming or giving away an iPhone for answering a question in Sunday school.parent_meeting_dribbble-1innh9r

But if you are seeking spiritual depth, if you are seeking a faith in your students that lasts beyond their high school years, if you are seeking a unity and health within your church…you must lock arms with your parents into battle. Teenagers are facing tremendous battles like the negatives of social media (gossip, cyber-bullying, self-centeredness), sexual pressures that happen everywhere from the office chair in front of a computer to taking the next step in a physical relationship, stress for academic achievement, loneliness & abandonment…and the list goes on. Why would you not want another ally in youth ministry? It would be like an Army General being offered 25,000 more troops to help in a war effort and saying, “Nah, I can handle this on my own. I’ve got the training and experience, let me handle it”. It’s ludicrous. But this is happening all across the nation in youth ministries. Stop blaming the youth ministry for the exodus of young people, and take a look at the failure of combining the efforts of youth ministry and parents. That right there is a winning formula for a teenager.

Maybe it will take some more convincing. Maybe you have been burned in the past by parents. Well, even if you confidence needs rebuilding or your skepticism remains, I’d encourage you to give these steps and see how God can use parent meetings to build a healthier youth ministry.

Step #1 – Support Group

Your first goal is to communicate the parent meeting is FOR the parents. It should be obvious that a parent meeting is for…well…parents. But make sure you arrange the meeting to be something the parents enjoy and more importantly, need. Your attendance at parent meetings will always be a struggle, but if it is something that will benefit the parents, they will come.

One specific way is to arrange the room in tables. And following the meeting, explain you’d like the parents to pray for each other. Discuss how each of them are in the same battle, teenage-dom. And you may gain advice and counsel from other parents, but most important can pray for each other. This has been my favorite part of parent meetings. I’ve seen parents talking to each other long after prayer is over, and truly helping each other, life on life. It’s a beautiful thing.

Step #2 – Equip

Come prepared to teach the parents. Sure, the typical youth leader is younger and may not have teenagers of their own, but that doesn’t mean they cannot teach on parenting teenagers. Why? Because there is book that has the authority over all parents, and no one will argue with its content. It’s called the Bible. Other resources: The Seven Checkpoints (Stanley), Raising a Modern Day Joseph (Fowler), Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Tripp).

Step #3 – Youth Culture Update

This is really fun. Come up with a quiz of 10 questions about teen culture. CPYU.org is a great resource for articles and information for these culture quizzes. Plus, when you give away answers, you can give valuable insight on the question. Questions about drugs, social media habits, teens & driving, or academic trends are all good places to start. So much value in keeping your parents clued in on teen culture, and it will give you tremendous credibility, showing you do know things about teenager that parents do not.

Step #4 – Fill the Calendar Later

Many times, we as youth leaders make the mistake of making the parent meeting all about events, programs, and filling the calendar. Sure, there still should be a place for that. But email, calendars, and newsletter can provide that information just as easy. So why waste time in the parent meeting with information about events. Put this information in front of the parents, but talk more about the purpose during these meetings, rather than just dates, times, and permission forms.

world-war-3Step #5 – Prevent World War III

This may be the most important step, so are you listening? DO NOT ask for questions during the meeting. You are inviting disaster. When you open the floor, you are opening it up for criticism, questioning of programs, and you are put on the spot. Rather, make it clear at the end of the meeting you are available to chat afterwards, or the parents can email, text, or call with any questions they may have. This will save you. Trust me on this one.

Step #6 – Food & Childcare

Eliminate the excuses. Provide food and childcare, and you have eliminated 90% of the excuses right there. Plus, everyone likes to eat. So have your leaders help with planning a meal and helping with childcare, and more parents will attend.
Resources: Family-Based Youth Ministry (DeVries), Pushing the Limits (Walker, Calhoun), reThink (Wright)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is Technology Doing to Us?

OK, I can hear you from here. You’re thinking: “this is another guilt-me-into-putting-my-cell-phone-down blog. I’ve seen these a million times, and I feel guilty for a day and go without my cell phone. Then, the next day a new version of Candy Crush comes available for free, and I go bananas (pardon the pun)”

Bear with me, let’s start with an experiment. Next time you drive on the highway, take a look around. Count how many people are on their cell phones while driving. Maybe your highways are safer than mine, so take this experiment to the next restaurant you have dinner, and look to see who is actually having conversations with a non-electronic device. Take a stroll to the park, and watch parents push their kids on swings with one hand, and check their social media on their smartphone with the other.  Even when teenagers hang out, it’s commonplace for phones to be out and communication to be non-existent.social_media-Technology-Wallpapers

What’s my point?  Is the iPocolypse upon us.  Should we all try to build a Delorean with a flux capacitor to get us back 15 years.  Doc, slow down.  Before we get to some answers, let’s start with the bad news:

  1. Danger, Danger! You’ve all seen articles like this or this. There’s no doubt about it, with the overuse of technology, there comes developmental and social ramifications. Don’t ignore the warning signs of technology addiction. It’s real, and must be monitored in the future.
  2. FOMS. Anxiety is a growing problem for this generation. In fact, there is a term for the anxiety that occurs with a smartphone, it called Fear of Missing Something or FOMS. It may seem silly, but the statistics of this are staggering. Read here.
  3. So Much for Honor RollAnxiety is also growing inside the classroom.  While there are benefits of technology in the classroom, there are also some drawbacks. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, just presenting facts to consider.

The Good News:computer-kid

  1. Techie Faith. Teens are using their tablets for devotions and iPods for Bible reading. While I’m a big fan of feeling the Scripture pages with my fingers, technology can provide an avenue for Spiritual growth and discovery. (See Barna’s article)
  2. Millennials, Robots in Disguise? Can you say multitasking while chewing gum, patting your head, listening to your iPod, and skating…a typical Millennial can. The ability of this generation to process information quickly, multitask, and decipher technology is astounding (I caught my one year old texting the other day, not joking). This ability can be a huge advantage in their education, breadth of learning, and advancing our technology even further in the future.
  3. World-View. Whether it is learning of an earthquake in Central America within minutes of it happening, or finding out about persecution in the Far East…the worldview expansion of this generation has potential to be world-changing. Possibly by prayer, financial support, or leading causes, we are seeing more teenagers taking strides in making a difference in the world.

When it comes down to it, the key word here is BALANCE. When it comes to technology, don’t throw the cell phone out with the bath water. Technology provides educational tools, instant access to information, and globalization of communication. However, the overuse has seen the rise in anxiety amongst teens, increase in auto accidents, slow erosion of academic performance and decrease of quality family time. family-and-technologyWhere is the balance? Here’s some action points to help:

  1. Be Smart with your SmartPhone. Put the thing away when you are driving, riding a bike, or walking on a bridge.
  2. Set Limits. These could include, but not limited to: no cell phones at dinner, limit yourself to 1-2 games on your phone/tablet, must be put away when entering the house from work, and at a distance when on a date or playing with the kids. For kids & teens especially – no cell phones during homework/study and after designated bed time.
  3. Charging Station. Especially for teens that are suffering from sleep deprivation and sleep texting, take the temptation away. Design a charging station away from the bedrooms, and check the phones before your shower, not between 1am-5am.
  4. Security. Set up security and restrictions on devices. With teens averaging 6 devices, it’s no longer just computers that provide temptations. Parents, keep an eye on this, and set up software to protect. BUT DON’T STOP THERE! Have regular conversations about purity vs. pornography, online bullying, and proper technology behavior (i.e. sexting).
  5. Superheroes of Technology. In virtually every superhero movie, there’s a quote that or scene that depicts the phrase “use your powers for good not evil”. Encourage yourself and students to use this power of technology for good.   Help them find and pray for global causes, teach them to witness on social media, and show them Bible study tools online. The list is endless for positive things too.
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,