Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Think Before You . . .

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Think before you speak. I heard that growing up. You can't recall words, so be careful of what you say because once you've said it, you can't take it back.

The same could be said for writing. Once it's on paper, there's a record, unless of course you destroy it before anyone else sees it. I say destroy, because many people have written something and left it in a private place, only for it to be found and shared. Or they may have shared it in confidence or trusted someone to destroy it for them only to have that trust betrayed. Mother Teresa is a case in point.

Of course, it's more complicated now. Many of us have been in the process of writing an email and clicked send before we were ready. Or we may have sent an email to someone only to have it forward to . . . . Some things go viral.

Yes. It's the technological age, so all the more, we need to think before we put anything down and watch that finger which is so apt to click on "send" or "enter."

Then there is the question of tech etiquette and appropriateness. It's so easy to send stuff now, but what's appropriate for sending and what's best for face-to-face and what's best for, well, just keeping it to yourself?

Here's are some good points in the blog below on social media responsibility.

Think before Tweeting – Social Media Responsibility and Keeping ...
chieftechnologymommy.wordpress.com5/29/12
Educating our teens on social media protocol must span far beyond Facebook and posting inappropriate photos. Words are just as powerful, and once they are loosed into cyberspace they cannot be taken back. Tweeting ...

Yes. Education on social media responsibility is sorely needed as we see also from the blog below and the statistics it contains.

Teens Feeling Pressure to "Grow Up" and Reveal Intimate Details ...
www.marketwatch.com5/21/12
With 95% of all teenagers (13-17 years of age) online and 80% using social media, a third of teens state they seek love on Facebook. As a result, 34% of girls and 16% of boys are exposed to more explicit and unwanted ...

  • How do we engage our students around issues of thinking before posting, what's appropriate and what isn't for online interaction, and how to deal with online peer pressure?
  • How do we help them to connect their faith with their online presence?
  • How are we modeling responsible tech behavior around these issues?

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

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Health Matters

There is cause for concern when it comes to the health of teens. Various studies, including the one referred to below, indicate that the health of many teens is at risk in ways that could affect them for years to come.

Teen Diabetes: Cases Double, Other Heart Risks Still High
www.huffingtonpost.com5/21/12
The number of teens in the U.S. with diabetes or prediabetes has skyrocketed in the last decade, jumping from 9 to 23 percent, new data finds. Other cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and bad ...


However, there are various strategies to enable teens eat in health-giving ways. The blog below identifies 10.

Ten Ways to Teach Teens Healthy Eating | Hope Coaching with ...
ronaejull.com5/26/12
The eating habits developed during adolescence will form the foundation for a lifetime. Here's how to help your teen practice healthy eating habits.


But here is the question. In your youth group, when it comes to meals and snacks, are you as the leader part of the problem or part of the solutions?

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

Monday, May 21, 2012

Celebrating the Positive

This is a time of celebration with high school and college graduations in the air. We rejoice with all those who have and are graduating this year. We congratulate and wish them all the best. We pray for God's guidance in their lives and that they would seek God and put God first in everything that they do.

We'd also like to celebrate the positive and life-changing activities of teens and so highlight 2 articles where teens are helping to make the lives of others better.

Teens surrender tresses for good cause | Stuff.co.nz
www.stuff.co.nz5/21/12
Ready, steady, shave. That was how quickly two teenagers' lives changed yesterday when they lost their long locks for a worthy cause.



Mickie's Zoo: Teens to hold Children's Hospital benefit in La Canada ...
mickieszoo.blogspot.com5/21/12
Members of La Canada High School's Club, Teens for the Advancement of Children's Hospital (TACH), are throwing their annual TACH Bash at Memorial Park, 1201 Foothill Blvd., on Saturday, June 2, from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 ...

  • How are you celebrating the accomplishments of the teens in your youth/student ministry?
  • How is God being glorified?

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

Friday, May 18, 2012

youTheology Celebrates

Today, youTheology celebrated with Kimberly Swartz as she graduated with her Master of Divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology. Kim is the first of thee youTheology alumni to graduate from Saint Paul. This was a great moment for us since we are a program of the school.

There are others who have graduated from seminaries before: Melinda Smits, Cindy Heilman, and Austin Rivera. We are thankful for their witness and grateful for the privilege of having been a part of their journey.

One of the key recognitions in youTheology is that we are all called to ministry as baptized believers. We therefore celebrate with the other alumni who are graduating and have graduated from colleges and are making their marks as teachers, researchers, and in other important areas. We are richer because of their ministries.

May is a great month for us as we see our alumni leave school and move into their places of call. Thank you for your support as we continue to develop faithful leaders for a diverse church and world.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OUR GRADUATES!

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

Friday, May 11, 2012

Color Blind?


What do we mean when we say that we don't see color, with reference to others? Could we possibly be denying their personhood by ignoring an essential aspect of who they are? Is the issue so much what we see or how we see and how we treat what we see? With what awareness do we live?

This article here and below highlights teens who were able to go past "colorblind" to an authentic engagement.

Teens Create Award-Winning Documentary On Race Relations ...
www.huffingtonpost.com5/9/12
Seeing firsthand the places they'd read about in history class made the civil rights struggle come alive for three Webster Groves students. Now Hannah Davidson, Jamie Garland and Katie Ribant are helping spread the ...



Next month, youTheology will be taking a multi-racial group of students on its Annual Pan-Methodist Pilgrimage. We will learn afresh the history of our participating churches, AME, AMEZ, CME, and UMC at historical sites. Much of this history is painful. Much of it has to do with race. We too would hope that our students would value and appreciate the richness of the diversity of God's creation as seen in each other and in the people we meet, as well as come to deeper understanding and engagement of themselves and others. This history is more than a show. It is a story of struggle, dignity, an understanding of self as God's free creation, and God's grace and redemption. It is a movement of and toward justice.

How are you engaging and teaching about diversity and justice?

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

Monday, May 7, 2012

Faithfulness

Yesterday evening I was privileged to hear Rev Adam Leathers preach. Adam is an SPST graduate and former youTheology mentor and small group leader. He talked about fruit, patience, and faithfulness. I love the statement he ended with which I'll share with you: "Faith is the knowledge written in our hearts that is beyond the reach of doubt." It reminded me of Hebrews 11.1.
  • How is your faith in God, today?
  • What spiritual practices and testimonies do you utilize to help your students grow in the knowledge of God to have faith as Adam described it?
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Perspectives from the Field: Prayer, Grief and Words of Comfort


Today (Thursday, May 3, 2012) is the 61st annual National Day of Prayer.  But what have we told & shown our students about prayer?  

When you are being asked to take on a big responsibility, do you say that you first need to pray about it? And honestly, if it's truly a major decision, isn't it too big for you to decide on your own?  If you say "I'm praying for you" make sure that you actually follow through and do so.    If you are lifting people up in prayer, are you asking for specific action or are you asking for God's wisdom or comfort in the situation?   All of this might sound like it's all about you when this blog is supposed to be about ministry to youth.  Yet, before we can guide our youth, don't we need to live and breathe this in our own lives? 

When I was in college, the director of the Wesley Foundation on the campus of what's now Missouri State University responded to a student worried about finals in this way: "If you study, I'll pray for you to do your best."  Treva's words were more than a quick response.  She was reminding her students (and the lesson sticks with me 20 years later) that we shouldn't just pray for God to do everything for us in spite of our actions.  God wants us to play a role in our lives. 

I've heard stories that surgeons often say that they can tell when prayer chains are in process for it can truly make an impact.  I know personal examples of people making miraculous recoveries.  Even as we can point to medical breakthrough's for saving lives we remember that prayer still has a role as it can help to calm the nerves of those involved and guide everyone involved to make the best decisions possible.  

At the same time, when we talk about the miracles related to prayer should be mindful of people dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy so that this does not come over as a judgement of those who have not had those experiences.  What if those dealing with tragedy had lifted up prayers and still lost loved ones or faced other disappointments in life?   We ask "Why?" but it's really more about how we deal with what happens in life and help us to get through that loss.  I have friends that participate in charity walks in memory of a lost loved one or do other things to make a difference in their memory and honor. 

Several years ago, our neighbors lost their teenage daughter in a car accident.  In searching for words to say, I was cautioned by a Pastor that one thing to NOT say was "I know how you feel" unless you've had that experience for nobody can truly understand what that loss feels like.  Later, a close family friend (whom I thought of as a son) was killed in a motorcycle accident and those words came back to me. One thing that helped me was that I was surrounded by others that offered prayerful support (in fact, I was actually at a youTheology event, the Youth Workers Gathering, when I received the news) and that helped me to offer support to the family & friends he left behind.  The neighbors who lost their daughter launched a campaign to encourage high school students to wear seat belts and later heard from a mom whose child was in a car accident and would have been killed if she weren't wearing a seat belt.  While this didn't bring back my former neighbor's daughter, it helped save another parent from the same grief she'd experienced. 

The next time you hear a siren, don't complain about it slowing down traffic; instead, pause for a moment and say a quick prayer for the emergency workers involved (whether Police, Fire or Ambulance) and those involved with where they're heading.  Chances are you don't know those involved but it might be someone clinging to life or the people left behind; it could be someone involved in a crime and they need prayers to put their life on the right path.  The emergency workers themselves could be putting their lives in danger and we should pray for them as well. 

Pray for our military, pray for the peacemakers, pray for the politicians, pray for those in our education system, pray for our neighbors and pray for those on the other side of the world.   When someone makes you angry, pray for the ability to understand them.  It's also OK to pray for people and causes close to your heart.  So, I ask for prayers for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.  I ask for prayers for youTheology and all of the students and adults involved in our various ministries.  I ask for prayers for Saint Paul School of Theology.  Personally, I ask for prayers for my church, especially my Youth Group as they lead the service this weekend.  Please pray for my family: my wife, kids and grandchildren as well as all of my other relatives. 

Finally, I ask for prayers for all of God's children.

Prayer is important.  Don't wait ... .take a moment and say a prayer right now. 

 by Mark Whitaker
Chair, youTheology Advisory Board
Youth & Young Adult Director @ Avondale United Methodist Church in KC North

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Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future