Having been involved in more than half a dozen different youth ministries in three regions of the country, I was interested to see what Jeramy and Jerusha Clark had to say about youth ministry in their book After You Drop Them Off. After decades of being a teen, becoming a volunteer in youth ministries and now as the parent of a teen, I have noticed a change over the years in teens and their parents.
While some things have remained constant, I believe we will see a major paradigm shift in youth ministry over the coming decade. With parents working long hours, at least one non-present parent becoming more common and some parents who are tired of parenting releasing young teens to their own devices, teens are beginning to parent themselves more than ever.
Even if you could be the perfect parent, bad things are going to happen in your child’s life. Not because God is punishing your child, but because we live in a fallen world. As much as we would love to spare our children any pain, we can’t. Your kids will have disappointments, heartbreaks, illnesses, injuries and other painful experiences during their lives. How they handle the pain though, can mean the difference between living a godly, productive life and being stuck in the pain forever.
Having had a tough year personally, I was excited to get a chance to read Nick Vujicic’s latest book, Unstoppable. (Click to read the first chapter for free.) If you are unfamiliar with Nick Vujicic, he is an Australian Christian speaker who was born without any arms and legs. Evidently, his first book told his story in depth. In this book, he chooses to address issues people in pain may face, giving them hope and practical godly advice.
Parents often say they have a strong willed child. Some children are a little wiser, shall we say, about heeding correction than others. Strong willed children can cause early gray hairs in some parents and moments of counting the days until they leave home for others. Forget trying to dedicate him to God, you are trying to merely survive his childhood!
I believe every child has the potential to be self-willed at any given moment. Remarkably, the behaviors of the self-willed child resemble those of the strong willed child. As parents, we want the “magic” secret for handling those moments when our child has drawn a line in the sand and dares us to cross it. How do we teach them obedience and avoid World War III in the process?
Normally, I avoid endorsing people. The minute I start raving about someone, it seems they go off the deep end. This guy is probably as deep off the end (in a good way!) as you can get, so I am going to throw caution to the wind and suggest you discover Bob Goff.
A few weeks ago, my daughter asked me to take her to a conference for her big (early) Christmas present. Bob Goff was the first speaker we heard. My daughter was won over before he opened his mouth, as he is an adjunct law professor at the law school connected to where she wants to attend college. I had no idea what to expect, but figured he would at least give me an idea of how talented the professors were at her college of choice.
Statistics and I have a love/hate relationship. It was probably my least favorite course in college, but I have to grudgingly admit statistics can provide some helpful information. Statistics can be skewed, but if the methodology is sound, the results can teach you some important things.
The Barna Group is well known in religious circles for their research on Christian issues. They specialize in trying to analyze what makes a person live (or not live) a truly Christian lifestyle. Their books are often bestsellers, perhaps because they try to sort out the difference between Christians “in name only” and those who are really close to “practicing what they preach”.