Thursday, April 26, 2012

On the Border

I spent most of this week at youTheology Southwest located at Lydia Patterson Institute in El Paso, TX. I met with the current group of youTheologians as well as alumni of the program. They shared about the role of youTheology in their spiritual growth and the deepening their faith. This time I was able to interact with a wider circle of people as we talked about ensuring the future of youTheology Southwest.

I thank God for the commitment of the administrators and staff of Lydia Patterson and their vision and understanding of how we share the common goal of developing faithful leaders. It is a natural fit and we are privileged to have them as partners on this youTheology pilgrimage.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Friday, April 20, 2012

Parents Matter

Often when I hear of teenagers acting up at odd times in the night or early morning, the question that immediately comes to mind is, "Where are the parents?" In the case of single parents, "Where is the parent?" Maybe guardian(s). Now I know that teens can slip out unbeknownst to parents. However, the numbers of youth that act out when they would be better off in their homes with their families does beg this question. At the same time, hats off to the parents who invest highly in their children.

Parents matter. This is borne out by research. It is often borne out by our experience in youth ministry: High parental involvement and enthusiasm for the program by parents, high involvement (not necessarily enthusiasm) by the youth.

So here, it is below, the influence of parents on behavior as it relates to safe driving. Teens having conversations with parents make a difference, but don't stop reinforcing safe habits prematurely:

Teens who refrained from texting while driving were much more likely to report having frequent talks with their parents about safe driving. Once teenagers receive their license, there is a sharp dropoff in conversations between ...

This article below offers great tips on awareness, guidance, releasing, and supporting, including the all important giving teens responsibility.

What are you doing in your house, with your child, that involves leadership and community service?

Questions: How are you supporting the parents of the teens in your ministry? How can you be a resource as they seek to be more faithful parents? How are you celebrating these parents?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Monday, April 16, 2012

Another Side of Abuse

How often do we talk with our students about abusive dating relationships? In this video from BeSmartBeWell, young people discuss the issuse:

There's also an article at the link below that gives some statistics, warning signs, pointers, and places to go for help:

Feature Article: Teen Dating Abuse

"From installing baby gates to fastening bike helmets and seat belts, parents put their kids’ safety first. But once kids hit adolescence, the risks can become less obvious. . . ."

Here are some things for us to consider as we continue to minister to students:
  • How are you addressing the issue of teen dating abuse in your ministry so that students are forewarned and/or able to recognize when they are in an abusive relationship or are themselves abusers and/or know where to turn to for help?
  • How are you creating an environment that would allow students to come forward if they need help?
  • Which Scripture resources will you draw on in addressing this issue?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Friday, April 13, 2012

Perspectives From the Field: Communicating the HOPE of the Resurrection

I recently attended a seminar for Youth leaders that looked at why college students stray from the faith and how to reverse the trend.   One of the insights was that some youth were raised believing DO and DON’T and therefore were lost when they did something wrong and weren’t sure how to act so they walked away from the church in shame instead of feeling grace.  In our small group conversation afterwards, we talked about how to share about grace while not sounding like we’re giving blanket permission to go ahead and do all the things we say not to do.  The message we need to share is that the reason you avoid doing bad things isn’t out of fear of punishment but due to LOVE of God.   This message is reinforced by “To Know You” by Casting Crowns which includes the lyrics “To Know You is to Want to Know You More”. 

While Good Friday is a time of darkness, we live on THIS side of Easter so we know that no matter how bad things have gone for you, the message of Easter is one of HOPE.  Jesus died for our sins and we just need to accept this gift. 

So, whether a youth is having a down day or feel that they have done the seemingly unforgivable, they need to know that our God is an awesome God, a forgiving God, a loving God and a God of Grace and Hope.

by Mark Whitaker
Chair, youTheology Advisory Board
Youth & Young Adult Director @ Avondale United Methodist Church in KC North
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Saturday, April 7, 2012

They did not know the end. We do:

"But he said to them, 'Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you'" (Mark 16:6-7).

Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Monday, April 2, 2012

Toward Sustainability

Wow! What a time we had at Youth Workers’ Gathering 2012 in Oklahoma City. Last weekend (March 30 to Saturday 31) we met at Church of the Servant and engaged the theme, “Sustainable Youth Ministry.” This was just what we needed as we learned how to prepare ourselves, our team, our environment, and our structure for the long haul. It was all-encompassing but it was also practical with time for personal assessment and engagement with others. Mark DeVries, author of Sustainable Youth Ministry and Executive Director of Youth Ministry Architects did an excellent job of presenting and facilitating our work around
 the theme. Spirits were high.

There was lots of conversation and laughter as people got to know each other and share with each other what happens in their contexts and their lives. This was fun and necessary. One thing that is evident is that we cannot go it alone. We need each other. We need our congregations. We need good volunteers. We need to be part of a team.

The rest of the leadership team for the weekend led us in inspiring worship, devotions and shared nuggets for us to use at the beginning, small church, and programmatic levels in youth ministry.

So today is Monday, and we’re back in our usual places, but wiser and stronger, so not quite so usual. And now the task immediately in front of us is to continue or start building  a sustainable youth ministry "one brick at a time."

We give God thanks.

How are you building a sustainable youth ministry?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future