Friday, September 28, 2012

Seeing, Hearing, Doing

Nothing beats learning by doing when it comes to practical skills. We can listen, we can look, but when we're able to do, ah, the difference! Now we're learning in a whole new way and importantly, we are owning the skill.

This is no less true for teens. They welcome and value hands-on experience.

Below are two examples of teens getting the experience they need to excel and be better citizens, one in the kitchen and one in court. They are learning and understanding in a whole new way, growing and developing long term skills.

 Student-Run Restaurant Gives Tulsa Teens Practical Experience ...
Nathan's Bistro is a student-run restaurant and is back in business for the school year.

 Staten Island Youth Court: Teens get involved in justice system ...
Says one participant: "We're not tough or lenient. What we're trying to do is help the teen."

We see this in youTheology when the youTheologians plan and lead worship. They come alive in a different manner. This is important as we develop leaders.

  • What opportunities are there in your ministry for your students to actually do and lead versus listening and watching? 
  • How can you shape this "doing" so that it qualitatively impacts their life so they grow and develop new skills that will undergird their faith?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teenage Stress

Michael Jastremski for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike
Sometime ago I asked someone if high school students were more busy now. I asked this question because it seemed to me that there were more activities in terms of number but also the schedules were starting earlier and ending later. School were demanding more as extra-curricular activities that were just fun offerings were graded. In addition, I noticed a tendency to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope more quickly than before.

In responding, the person I spoke with noted the expectancy of perfection in everything along with the inability to choose a smaller amount of activities and do those well. It seemed they were not aided in this task by the adults around them.

I'm not sure what you're noticing, but Chap Clark talks about it in Hurt 2.0. He has witnessed it first hand. He sums up his chapter, "Busyness and Stress" as follows:
At the core, they long for the safety and freedom of childhood and have no clear vision concerning what adulthood will be like. As a result of the abandonment they have faced throughout their lives, most midadolescents carry inside them a powerful defense mechanism that keeps them running as fast and as hard as they can. They know no other way to cope with life. The quicker they move, the less vulnerable they are to ridicule, critique, or even examination. Midadolescents know they must put on a mask of confidence, even arrogance, or they will be chewed up by those who would find them out. May we, the adults who love and care for them not be fooled. They are busy, yes, and stressed, but they want someone to demonstrate in word and action, "You matter to me" (Clark 2011, 140).

Chap Clark is noting the limbo situation of teens who have a desire for the carefree safeguard of the early years without a clear notion of the postadolescent period. Midadolescents have reacted to being let down and left to fend for themselves by constantly being on the more to avoid being an object of derision. This is how they handle life. Caring adults need to go behind the front and show them their significance by what the adults do and say.

This is important. Whatever we see as the cause of the stress, there is not doubt that teenagers are plagued with insecurity and treated too often with a zero tolerance approach.  They need unconditional love, the kind we get from God, from the adults in their lives.

  • Have you noticed the stress in the teens you serve?
  • How are you addressing it?
  • How are you letting them know that they have significance that is not performance based?
  • How do you share with them their inestimable worth in God's sight?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse CyouTheohurch and World Now and in the Future

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What Do We Know?

Whenever I read Chap Clark's recent work, these questions surface: What do we know? How much do we know about the youth we serve? It's not that we know nothing. Of course we know  something; quite a bit in fact. But, what remains hidden from us because deliberately and/or because we are only seeing what we are looking for and/or because we don't know what to look for and/or because of a lack of trust and/or because of the spaces in which we interact? Quire a range, I know.

  • I think the main question for me, though, is what kind of spaces do we inhabit in our youth ministry? 
  • Are they real enough relationally? 
  • Does the content intersect with and draw on life as it is for students as against life as we imagine and/or would like it to be? 
  • Is it safe enough physically and emotionally, etc? 
  • Importantly, does it go beyond the confines of the youth group room into the world that teenagers inhabit? 
  • What do we know?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor
Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World Now and in the Future