Tag Archives: iPhone

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)

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5 Teen Culture Trends of 2013

As a youth pastor, youth culture is a passion of mine.  Throughout the year, I do my best to stay current with the trends, cultural shifts, and behavior of this generation.  Here is a summary or review of the youth culture in 2013:2012culturecloud

  1. Violence and bullying is a growing problem among teenagers.  (Dating Violence; Teen kindness & cruelty; Teen Violence; E-Venge)
  2. Social Media is taking over…As if you didn’t know.  (Social Media Report; Information Age; Boys & Girls Messages)
  3. Pornography use is just going to get worse and worse, as it gets more accessible.  (ABC News Report; What Parents Don’t Know; Biggest Issue of Teenagers Today)
  4. Cell Phones used to be for safety…now becoming more dangerous – From car accidents to easy internet access.  (Sleep Texting; Internet Use on Mobile Phones; Texting & Driving; Smartphones Causing Dementia?
  5. They like to play video games…a lot. (Gaming Addiction; Call of Duty; Grand Theft Auto Sales)

Articles are listed after each cultural trend.  Credit is due to http://www.cpyu.org for finding many of these articles and my favorite app Evernote for keeping them organized throughout the year)

 

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Even John the Apostle Got Tired of Social Media

Okay, maybe the title is a little bit of a stretch.  But, before you sue me for false advertising, check out this verse found in 2 John:

12 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

See, I wasn’t too far off here.  Even Jesus’ beloved disciple had frustrations with the social media of the day.  Just writing to his brothers and sisters in the faith was not enough.  He needed something more, he needed face time (and no, I’m not talking about the iPhone equivalent to Skype)

As I read this verse, it begged some questions, especially those that are in ministry:

  1. Do we have too much social media?  While it is valuable in connected to others, keeping track of what is happening in other people’s lives, and is a source of encouragement…it can also become a huge distraction, a definite social-media-overloadtime-waster, and at times a temptation.
    1. I mean, it has gotten to the point where I can find out what football coach has been hired before the team announces it.  You can know the news before it even becomes news (see:  Manti Te’o Twitter Craziness).
  2. Do we not have enough face to face?  This was the Apostle John’s complaint way back in the early 100’s.  Times have not changes.  Even with airplanes, cars, buses, and trains over the last 2000 years, we have allowed computers to get in the way of our face to face time.  Case and point:  You ever hang out with high school students and every one of them is texting…some even to people in the same room!  We need more face to face!
  3. Do we hide behind our computers & tweets?  Would you be as bold in your meeting with others as you are on your status or your tweet?  Do you use your keyboard as a confrontation tool?  I’ve always tried to follow this rule of thumb “Never have a serious conversation over the computer”.  There may be some exceptions to that rule, but overall is a good goal to shoot for.

This frustration is not new.  Technology may be always changing, but something remains the same, we should always strive to meet people face to face, in their homes, at a coffee shop, or on the street.  Show Christ love to someone today IN PERSON.  That’s your goal, and let me know how it goes!

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Are you Married? Do you have a smartphone?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, then watch this and be convicted.

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5 Vacation Ideas For Pastors

If you are in ministry, these are some vacation ideas that I learned over the past few years that have helped me refresh, relax, and re-energize over vacation.  3 point alliteration, what pastor didn’t just love that last sentence?

  1. Unplug/Throw Your Phone – Even if you have an iPhone or the like, don’t take it to the pool.  One, phones don’t like water.  And two, even if you want that high score in Temple Run, you will see those emails get past the 50 mark, and you might not be able to resist.
  2. Choose Your Reading Carefully – I made the mistake of bringing ministry related reading on vacation.  So while I was reading about youth ministry, what do you think I was thinking about reading it?  Big mistake.  You can bring spiritual reading, just not ministry-related.  That was a big help for me to let my mind relax.
  3. Don’t Talk Shop – While there may be major issues or stories you want to share, but try to keep ministry talk at a minimum.  Talk about life, that huge alligator that almost ate your golf ball, how cool you feel when you find a shark’s tooth, and other important stuff.
  4. Family Time – Soak it up.  Don’t allow the computer, having NFL network in your room, or any other distraction get in your way of spending major time and care on your family.
  5. Buy yourself a nice dress – Or shirt, or slacks (anyone say slacks anymore, because I love to say slacks).  This is vacation, so go out to dinner, buy yourself an outfit, go golfing.  I’m not saying to spend like Bill Gates at a Best Buy, but enjoy the blessings God has given you.

Now you’ve read the best blog out there, so get off your computer and go do a cannonball in the pool.

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