Using Youth Ministry to Teach Independence to Students

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We’ve been talking about independence and what we can do to raise independent kids and promote it in students. One obvious tool we can use as youth leaders, is our youth ministry.

We may complain about parents doing too much for their teens instead of letting students do it themselves, but as youth workers, we tend to make the same mistake. That’s because it’s much faster to clean up the youth room myself, than to supervise four students who take twice as long with not nearly as a good a result. Well, deal with it. The only way students can learn is by letting them do it, even if they don’t do it well at first. [Read more…]

Raising Independent Students

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In a previous post, we started our discussion on raising independent kids. Much has been said about extended adolescence and the irresponsibility and dependence of this generation of young people. I think our goal is to counter that trend and stimulate independence.

Many of us may be parents as well as youth workers, but since this is a youth ministry blog and not a parenting blog, the question is how to ‘raise’ independent students. What can we as youth leaders do to promote independence in our students? [Read more…]

Helping youth thrive

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It’s not often that you encounter people with the passion for youth of Peter Benson. His whole TED Talk titled ‘How youth thrive’ shows his love for young people and it encouraged me.

Peter Benson is not a youth pastor however; he’s a psychologist who does research amongst young people on their ‘spark’. By ‘spark’ he means a skill, a cause or a quality that makes people thrive, that makes them happy and whole.

In his talk, he shares some interesting statistics. Right now, there are 80 million young people aged 8-18 in the US. But only 25% of these 80 million are on a pathway to human thriving (meaning being happy, connected, kind, contributing, etc.) and the rest has fallen behind. They are lost, confused, medicated and alone. Those statistics should give anyone involved in youth work food for thought. [Read more…]

Lady Gaga’s prayer

Lady-Gaga

This YouTube video of Lady Gaga praying is a fascinating study in contrasts. Here is this superstar, dressed in outrageous and sexy costumes and in the voice over she’s praying. Earnestly praying.

At first, I thought of making a Bible study using this video, but I’m not sure I’d actually want students to watch this. Aside from the fact that she’s in various stages of being barely dressed, the prayer itself is confusing to say the least. Lady Gaga is praying to God (‘Dear Lord’) and there’s gratefulness and a focus on others, but there are also puzzling requests.

[Read more…]

Bullying brings status: an anti-bullying policy for youth ministry

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Bullying is gaining more and more attention from researchers, school, parents, lawmakers and others and rightly so. In the last few years, there have been several heartbreaking stories of the effects of bullying and it’s a serious problem we need to address as youth leaders as well.

We can’t pretend bullying doesn’t happen in youth ministry. I should know, I left the teen ministry of my own church as a teen because I was bullied and the leaders did little or nothing to stop it. I still attended my ‘home church’, but I was involved in another church’s youth ministry (one that was way less radical in its message I might add!) because I was accepted there and felt safe.

We need to stop any and all bullying in our youth ministries. But what does an affective anti-bullying policy look like?

[Read more…]

More on arousal addiction: the resurrection of guys

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More and more research is being done into the effects of heavy internet use and especially internet porn. And all that research is showing how devastating the effects of internet porn are on guys.

Last week I wrote a post about a TED video on ‘The demise of guys’, in which psychologist Pillip Zimbardo talked about the phenomenon of ‘arousal addiction’. Today I came across another TED talk called ‘The great porn experiment’ that offers more proof for what Zimbardo claimed. [Read more…]

A powerful story of pain overcome

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Jillian Jensen can sing, that’s for sure. The contestant in the X-factor’s audition has a lot of YouTube videos already in which she sings covers from all kinds of songs. But in her X-factor audition, she showed something that made each and every person in that room cry, including Simon Cowell and that’s saying something.

She showed her pain.

In the interview, Jillian connects with singer Demi Lovato and shares that she’s been bullied severely as well. When she talks about this, her pain is so real and so on the surface, that everyone becomes quiet. This is not show, this is real.

Real pain.

And then she sings her song and it’s so emotional, so full of that pain. “It’s okay not to be okay” she sings and you know she’s been there. She hasn’t been okay. [Read more…]

The demise of guys

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I came across this challenging and very short TED-talk called ‘The demise of guys’. In it, psychologist Philip Zimbardo shares some concerning statistics on what he calls the demise of guys:

  • boys are 30% more likely to drop out of school than girls;
  • girls outperform boys on every level from elementary school to graduate school;
  • boys are less likely to get Bachelor (44% vs 56%) and graduate degrees (45% vs 55%)
  • boys make up 2/3 of all special eds students
  • boys are 5 times more likely to have ADHD

In short: guys are falling behind girls academically and socially and statistics prove it. Zimbardo made an interesting observation about the social skills of guys as well when he described their social awkwardness:

“They don’t know the language of face contact: the verbal and non verbal rules that enable you to talk comfortably to somebody else…” [Read more…]

Why is it so hard for parents to understand their teenagers?

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I think it’s one of the most heard complaints amongst teenagers: my parents don’t understand me. And in all fairness: quite a few teens do have a legitimate gripe here. It is very hard for parents these days to really understand their teens. But why is that? Let’s look at a few causes and at what you can do as a youth worker.

1. Parents have little time

There used to be a time when one parent was home (usually the mom) when teens came home from school, but in most western countries that time is long gone. Two working parents has become the norm and as a consequence, there’s not much time left for parents to spend with their teens.

The exact statistics differ, but I heard Marko quote that the average American dad spends 15 minutes a week with his teens, 5 minutes of which without the tv on. Walt Mueller in his book Youth Culture 101 quotes research which indicated that 46% of high school students wished to spend more time with their family.

[Read more…]

What you can do about the challenge of postmodernism

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This post is part of a series on the challenges of postmodern youth ministry. When we as Christians talk about postmodernism, most of the time it’s not positive. We rail against youth who won’t grow up, against changed standards of truth or individualistic morals. We complain about the sexual undertone of commercials, about the dangers of social media and about this generation of young people who seem lazy, self-centered and immature.

But what do we do about it? Do we just complain or do we stand up and do something about it? What specific actions do we take to counter the negative effects of postmodernism and to bolster the positive ones?

Let’s be real here. First of all, postmodernism is here to stay. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon so it’s a reality we have to face. Second, it’s not all bad. Postmodernism offers some real openings for mission-oriented living (or incarnational living as some call it) for instance. Both are really good reasons to change our mindset and see postmodernism as a challenge, not something negative we need to stay away from. [Read more…]