ms ministry summit notes, part 8
Sunday September 30th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, youth work

the ys middle school ministry summit took place at spring hill camp in evart, michigan, in mid-september. 45 paid junior high or middle school-only youth workers attended. these are the mostly unedited notes. remember, they’re notes on a dialogue of 45 voices, not a refined set of ideas…


What do we mean “creative elements”?
 Music
 Multi-media
 Any medium outside the base curriculum

Issues in our ministries?
 Show vs. relational ministry
 Elevating music, movies, etc. to a level higher than the Word of God
 Leaders not buying into importance of relational ministry
 How are our students best served?
 Does creativity necessarily mean production?

How many hours per week to you give to volunteers, students, programming?
What are the three best things that happen in those times?
What gets you the most distance?
What do my students need?
 Get students helping prepare the programming
 We don’t want students who go to church we want students who experience church.
 Distinction in purpose between connection times (Sundays & midweeks)

How much are you willing to at times let what you are doing suck so that other things you are doing shine? And, do the kids give a rip?
 Don’t sacrifice effectiveness for excellence
 Need to know who you are.
o Seeker Church – need perfection
o Emergent Church – none of us are perfect
 Can only go low key to a point before losing our effectiveness
 Still need to plan for things

What are the good things production-wise?
 Introspan – kids can have a long attention span if it is captivating enough.
 Engagement
 Relational part to some of it
 Creativity can serve a truth that you are teaching

What I think is the most transformative thing we do is…?
What everyone else thinks is the most important is…?
 There’s good vs. great.

This is a values-driven conversation, fueled by our contexts and resources.

Closing Comments…
 Don’t be extreme either way.
 Ask kids, “What was the best part of this night?”
 Instead of trying to fix leaders, let them excel in their gifts and get other people who excel in those areas.
 Try to whiteboard it…
o If I were to kill everything and rebuild the whole thing, where would I start and what would I do.
o What do we need


ooh — a new fashion idea for guys
Sunday September 30th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: humor

yeah — guys, just when you were thinking, “dang, i just don’t have as many clothing options as my wife does when it comes to looking or feeling sexy,” here’s the perfect solution:

men’s fishnet pants.

hurry, it says supplies are limited.





walk their walk is this morning
Saturday September 29th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: church, personal


i’m off to the park early this morning for walktheirwalk, a walkathon to benefit children in zambia via building schools and clean water wells. it was birthed by a few friends of mine who used to be middle school ministry volunteers at my church, and were part of the one life revolution stuff we did with our kids over the last few years (where we raised about $60,000).

princess.jpgprincess kasune zulu flew in for the weekend, to speak at the event. and she’s speaking at all the services at our church this weekend also. an amazing speaker, princess captured the imagination of these friends of mine when they heard her speak at the national youth workers convention back in 2004. i got to have dinner with her last night, and it was so fun to see her again. tic long and i first met her in lusaka, zambia, in 2003, i think. amazing woman, passionate and gifted communicator. there’s a great article about her, in christianity today, here.

as i write this, walktheirwalk has raised $17,000. our goal is to raise $40,000, to complete a school in the small village of twachiyanda, which i got to visit with a dozen youth workers a couple years ago. we know of about 250 people who are walking the 12 miles of the walkathon tomorrow (12 miles is the average distance a child in zambia walks for school). and the world vision staff of the area covering twatchiyanda are walking 12 miles in solidarity with us tomorrow. i’m hoping we see another 50 or 100 people show up, and that the rest of the money comes in. you can give to walktheirwalk here.

oh, and, about 7 ys staff are walking, and another 5 or so are volunteering.


ms ministry summit notes, part 7
Saturday September 29th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, youth work

summit attendees, goof.jpg

the ys middle school ministry summit took place at spring hill camp in evart, michigan, in mid-september. 45 paid junior high or middle school-only youth workers attended. these are the mostly unedited notes. remember, they’re notes on a dialogue of 45 voices, not a refined set of ideas…


what questions do we have?
- How do you tailor small groups for boys?
- How do you keep boys?
- Getting Dads.
- Learning to teach boys
- Training boys to be men
- We have a lot of single parent families
- There are so many more loner guys than years ago. /Helping them build friendships
- Making sure some don’t go into a homosexual direction
- How do we minister to boys into porn.

Small groups
- Let the staff choose their type of students
- Balance the group with 2 leaders and two different ages
- Meeting off site at homes
- Give lots of space for play
- We have snack every week, and it is the last thing we do
- Most of the groups are closed
- Allow some jokes. Don’t form an intense Christian bubble.
- Guys get freaked out about talking about porn at church.
- The play factor is huge!!!
- Everything in 6th grade leads up to ministry in 8th grade.
- In 6th grade, let the boys play with something in their hands in the small group time.

Connecting with and keeping boys
- Sometimes you can keep the leader as their leader when they move to high school, on the other hand, some people are just made for jr. high
- Give your boys jobs – chairs, trash, snack shop,
- Camping trips
- Sports game
- Guys event – Burly
- Dad and son event
- Mother and son event

Connecting with the Dads
- Training day – How do you be a dad?
- Bring students to the men’s retreat, but break the students off in their own seasons.

Relevant teaching styles
- Visual
- Humor
- Experience
- Sports/coaching teaching maybe be blunt and relating things in a team and action context
- Telling your boys that you are proud of you
- Boys need to know that they are safe!! They need to feel safe.
- Boys will talk in small groups in the right context.

- Read the book Teenage Guys
- XXX Church
- Every young man’s battle
- Read the book –When young men are tempted.
- Bring HS/College guys in to tell a testimony.
- Read the book (for dads) Preparing your son for every young man’s battle


i’ve created my first facebook group
Friday September 28th 2007, 2:48 pm
Filed under: blogs, humor

fwoitjznap.jpgi’m set up as an admin or “officer” in a few other facebook groups. but, yesterday, i lost it upon hitting the “ignore” button for what seemed the 100th time for one of the following groups or applications:
1. vampires
2. zombies
3. ninjas
4. pirates

cute little whimsical play things? yeah, maybe. if you’re 6. i even get annoying when someone uses the facebook “poke” feature. c’mon, don’t you have words!?!?

so i started a facebook group, called (i’d forgotten about vampires at the time). i thought about adding a photo of captain jack sparrow or something, but got cold feet when i read the “do you have permission to use this photo?” acknowledgement thing. so i just put up a pic of me at 3 or 4, when i would have enjoyed the idea of being a pirate.

i furiously clicked the boxes next to my few hundred “friends”, and sent off invitations. and now, about 20 hours later, the group has about 200 members!

UPDATE: some nice fella named luke trouten created a logo, without me even asking!


ms ministry summit notes, part 6
Friday September 28th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, youth work

the ys middle school ministry summit took place at spring hill camp in evart, michigan, in mid-september. 45 paid junior high or middle school-only youth workers attended. these are the mostly unedited notes. remember, they’re notes on a dialogue of 45 voices, not a refined set of ideas…


A. Student Leaders (Jr. High Student Leaders)
a. We have students teach the lesson for us
b. We have a monthly team that meets, and they are greeters, announcements, games, up front time, but also higher accountability.
c. All of our student leaders are given our expectations to focus on where they are going to be a missionary and helping them focus on being missional. We meet every 3 weeks.
d. stuff – our students go out to their schools and start their own ministry.
e. Café team and tech team and are connected with the larger church as well to help with the coffee shop and also the big church tech stuff.
f. Tech team, encouragement team, follow up team (Barnabus 5), programming team (helps with big events).
g. No formal leadership team because our kids got too cocky about it. So we have a 2 hour bible study about leadership skills and going deeper. They don’t even know they are on a leadership team.
h. Cancelled leadership team because he couldn’t meet with them regularly enough, so have designed an organic form of being leaders in the regular group.

B. What is your definition of “Leadership” and what does a student leader look like in 7th grade?
a. Every student is given an opportunity to serve in various ways, also we have prayer groups that meet before every event that is open for the students to come and be a part of that prayer.
b. They don’t have to be “super church kids” but have leadership gifts – and I try and help them to lead in the right way.
i. When kids follow them, that can be a leadership gift.
c. Anyone can be in worship band, announcements, etc. but to be on the leadership team you have to be willing to do the “dirty” jobs. They have to be willing to come early, set up chairs, take attendance. The focus of our teams is servant stuff. This has changed the dynamic of our leadership team tremendously.
d. Getting other people to do what you want them to do is leadership.
e. Is leadership anything more than an opinion of what you have of yourself and what others have about you.
f. A leader is someone who inspires others.
g. We have some students who are just servants who want to serve on teams, and others who are servant leaders who want to lead those teams.
h. You have to force your leaders to be servants. But, are we hurting the shy kid who serves to be a “leader” when they may not want to be a “leader.”
i. At their developmental age, this whole concept can be a confusing thing for the students.

C. What are you doing to train these kids who are your student leaders?
a. They have to take risks and report about them. Risks of a social, emotional, or spiritual nature, centered on the kingdom of God.
b. We have teams and we have asked them to be committed for 6 weeks on a Sunday night and they start in their teams for 45 minutes working with a leader, then we come back for the last 30 minutes together and talk about what it means to be a servant and a leader – and talk about the heart of the matter. Then the last thing is to take them to a place in Fort Wayne where they will utilize those things in a mission trip type way.
c. We go on a leadership retreat at the beginning of the summer, which sets them apart a bit. It is 8th grader only. They are the pattern setter. This is a selective process.
d. With our students who are on one of our servant teams, they go on the mission trip during the summer and they come back, and normally the others who go on that trip end up joining the leadership team.
e. Sometimes if feels as if we are put under pressure to make a leadership team a program element versus just putting pressure on the students to step up and be natural leaders.
f. We do one-on-one mentoring with our leaders. We let our students experience all of the different teams instead of having separate teams that they stay on. We let them rotate around to figure out what they really like.

D. Transitions
a. Pre-teen to Middle School
i. Our 6th graders were part of the children’s ministry, but they were so tired of children’s ministry and the Jr. High guy didn’t want to incorporate them in, so they created their own pre-teen ministry. There is some children’s stuff and some student ministry stuff. The 6th grade year is the transition.
ii. Our 5-6 graders are in our student ministry. One thing we are trying this year is trying to create more of a middle school model where we bring them together with the Jr. Highers to do something special. We don’t do a lot of these during the year.
iii. We have created a separate 4th and 5th grade program because a lot of them are not doing well with the 1st – 3rd graders in the large program. There are a couple nights during the school year where the 4th and 5th graders are invited to join the Jr. High group for just a regular night for observing and getting excited about what is to come.
iv. Our youth pastor tries to plug in to the lower level for a few events to build those relationships early and get comfortable. It is all about the relationships, and that can make the transition a lot easier. This has been helpful. Also, we started doing events that are a big event where we will invite the 6th graders to go with us. We also invite all of the volunteer leaders from that group to come along too though.
b. Middle School to High School
i. We use the summer for our big transition and do the 8th grade escapes where we do 8 events and have high schoolers come in to help lead. The relationship I have with the Sr. high guy and children’s guy is great and that has helped HUGE in how we handle these hand-offs.
ii. Communicating with parents, especially as 6th graders are coming in and same for the 8th graders. Give the parents the most information possible.
iii. We have the Sr. high guy teach on a Sunday and Wednesday and we push High school camp for the 8th graders for that great relationship building in the summer after 8th grade.
iv. We bring in key leaders that the high school has so they can begin to relate to the students and make connections with them.
v. Even though I am on a different page with the High School guy, I do talk to him all of the time. I talk positively about him to the Jr. High students as well.
vi. I don’t get along well with the sr. High guy, but we play nice. Especially since we are in the same office. We don’t work together, and I take both the incoming 6th and outgoing 8th graders to camp with me because the high school guy wants to focus only on those students he already has involved.

E. Staying Healthy in Youth Ministry. You are asked to give and give and give, so how do you keep a balance in ministry of keeping a spiritual life, not taking stuff home, and not drying out and having nothing left to give? What do you face and do (or need to do)?
a. We get one spiritual day per month where we cannot come into the office or do any business, but we go off on our own and take that whole day for a spiritual retreat. It is amazing.
b. I started a go-away, 3-day retreats once a year. This has done amazing things for me. I just go and shut up for 3 days. I give myself a ton of permission where I don’t need God to speak to me, but I make a rule to just shut up, get off email and be quiet. It is a matter of choosing to do this. I do this by myself, not with my family. I can’t slow down in a ½ day, so I need at least a day to detox.
c. There is no way I could survive in a ministry without a relationship with the Sr. High guy and the Children’s ministry guy – so I make it a point to spend time with them building relationships with them. I aggressively take time away as well, as it is essential to my ministry, health, and growth.
d. A consistent Sabbath. Once a month I do a ½ day retreat and journal, read, laying things out before God, etc. I do that once a month to get away from the office and the having to be and do stuff.
e. A critical one for me is meaningful, life-giving fun friendships that have nothing to do with ministry. People who are not impressed by me at all.
f. I have a date night with my wife that I hold to very tightly and don’t let anything get in the way of that date night. My wife and I made a policy that on date night we will not talk about our jobs at all.
g. With the marriage thing, we can feel a lot of pressure to do marriage the way others tell us to do it. We need to figure out what works for our own marriage, which each one is different. Know your spouse, know yourself, and build into your marriage what is healthy for both of you.

1 Comment

small group has started
Friday September 28th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: youth ministry, personal, youth work

we re-started my middle school guys small group this past wednesday night. i started with these six guys (zach, bryan, matt, shane, brandon and aaron) two years ago when they were just beginning 6th grade. now they’re big (in varying degrees), mature (also in varying degrees, given the moment) 8th grade guys.

the first year of meeting every wednesday evening was fun, and contained the occasional spiritually insightful moment. but it was primarily a year of farts and giggles, lifting the relational trusswork for deeper stuff to come.

last year showed more insight, more engagement, and lots and lots of developmental changes. awkwardness and questions, doubts and simplistic ideas. snack time still ruled.

it is completely possible that my investment (as well as the investment of my now-20 year-old co-leader, who was only 18 when we began two years ago) has set me up for over-expectation this year. that would be ok, ’cause i still love these guys, and love hanging with them.

these last two years, we’ve jumped off of highly-modified wild truth bible lessons as our discussion starters. this year we’re trying something new, based on the positive experiences i’ve heard from a few other middle school small group leaders around the country. we’re using one of the books in the middle school survival series (”my friends“, to be exact) as a launch-point. i gave them each a copy to take home — reading optional. but i’m keeping 8 copies at my house (i can’t expect them to remember to bring them). each week we’ll read a chapter — the chapters are about a page and a half — and talk about it. hope to talk about 3-ish chapters per week. we’ll see. it could suck and we’d change directions. we’ll still have monthly swim night, and weekly snack.

i’m a middle school guy, through and through. but it’s interesting, these guys (and their parents) are already talking about how little time we have left together (a full school year), and how much they want me to move up with them to the high school group. i don’t expect to do that: i don’t like high schoolers. :)


finally, dwight schrute has posted to his blog
Thursday September 27th 2007, 6:43 pm
Filed under: humor, tv/movies

after a long summer blogging hiatus, dwight is back. just hours away from the fall premiere. yee-ha!

a teaser of the post…

Hello internetizens. I have returned from my web logging hiatus. You may be asking yourself, “what happened to Dwight all summer?” Shut up. It’s none of your business. Just focus on the present. In this case, the present has two meanings. In its first usage, it is temporal. The present is the here and now. It is also being used to mean “a gift.” This web log is a present from me to you, the reader, because you do not pay for it and I am giving it to you. Enjoy your present (both meanings).


everything must change
Thursday September 27th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: faith, church, books, emerging church, emergent

everything must change.jpg, by brian mclaren.

at this point in his publishing career, brian mclaren could publish the sentence, “water is good to drink,” and people would freak out. john mac and john pipes and the don and others would deconstruct his sentence (ironic, actually). christian radio shows would invite him on to talk about his drinking water sentence, but bait-and-switch into a discussion of relativism and hell. christianity today would be oddly silent, with only a passing sarcastic comment on the editors’ blog.

and, of course (to be fair), too many emergies would start drinking more water, without thinking, because “the brian” said it.

at first brush, i couldn’t find all that much controversial about brian’s new book, everything must change: jesus, global crisis, and a revolution of hope (which, btw, releases next week). but, i’m sure that’s the “i’m not a theologian” in me peeking above the firing line, and there will be plenty of helpful and unhelpful critique from others.

i will say this: brian knows how to stir a pot without letting it boil.

he’s a master of properly placed emotion. it’s not that the book is emotionless: far from it. brian just knows (or chooses?) to get fiesty on some matters, and graciously sashay up to, but not onto, other matters that would hurt the book. knowing brian, i’ll call this humility (which is genuine).

this wasn’t my most-favorite-all-time-bestest of mclaren’s books. but it was 110% thoroughly worth reading, and will have me thinking for a long time; and, likely, it will push me to change some things (maybe not everything, but some things). and, i expect, there are plenty of people (i can think of many) for whom this will definitely be their most-favorite-all-time-bestest brian mclaren book.

while his breakdown of the engines that create or power culture were tough for me in the sense that i don’t feel i have the faculty to think critically about what brian wrote (i’m not sure i would know if he’s correct or not), it did give me a whole new way to think about those componants. like, the “three interlocking systems” of prosperity, equity and security.

i think most helpful for me was the section on “framing stories”. as is often true of brian’s writing, this section put words to things i kinda understood (somewhat understood, partially understood), but didn’t have a good way of articulating, even to myself; and, then, he added to that thinking, or pushed my thinking further. brian makes an interesting case for how the framing stories in jesus’ time should shed light for us today on how to read his life and message, and how our own framing stories need to be acknowledged and partially (?) deconstructed.

it’s not a skimmer. you gotta read the whole thing. if you’re one of those who would rip on brian for the above fictional sentence about water, you’ll find plenty here, i’m sure, to fuel your fire. but for those of us who read with a desire to live openly, believing that god will reveal truth to us from both likely and unlikely sources, i fully expect god to stir your pot.

thanks, brian.


ms ministry summit notes, part 5
Thursday September 27th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, youth work

the ys middle school ministry summit took place at spring hill camp in evart, michigan, in mid-september. 45 paid junior high or middle school-only youth workers attended. these are the mostly unedited notes. remember, they’re notes on a dialogue of 45 voices, not a refined set of ideas…


This has to do with looking at our ministries individually and how do we program with the issues of our family being considered. So often we are making busy families even busier. But, doing less is not always a great career move. So what are some of the issues that come up in this line?
1) Parents following up with what is taught in the youth group. Helping the parents communicate with the students. Providing follow-up opportunities and a place for feedback for the parents.
2) Fostering opportunities for the parents to spend time with and communicate with their children.
3) Don’t cloud events with too many goals. Open lines of communication between teen and parent and provide positive family memories and those are GREAT goals (and really all that is needed).
4) We do a family ministry night that is a parent night where the pastors get together with the parents for a meeting and connection.
5) We do a dinner for the parents and new students served by the older students and their parents.
6) Family dinner nights. Family competition nights.
7) We morph our Sunday morning into a family service occasionally, such as a pancake breakfast, etc.

Is there anything that has been changed or cancelled or rearranged because it was not connecting with parents or convenient for parents?
1) Offering a Jr. High course only when there is a parent event happening that same night.
2) We don’t have anything but Sunday morning for our Jr. High ministry because we don’t want to compete with parents and family time.
3) We re-arranged our Jr. High midweek to be the same night as the children’s ministry so everything for children is on the same night instead of different nights.
4) We keep our small group homes close to the church, or close to one another so that parents are not driving all over the place to drop their children off at their events.

How many of you do something to allow a parent in their culture into your programming decisions?
1) Marko – I wrestled with that after being at a few churches where I didn’t do that. I finally found that there was a value in having a parent advisory team and empowering them to make decisions. Everyone would know it was a sham if it was a sham. But, those parents started to represent all of the other parents. They helped me make calendar decisions, set prices for trips, etc. They also had my back, and then parents knew that other parents were helping make the decision. They also can be the first to call when you mess up and share what happened. Make sure you hand-pick those so they don’t come with their own agenda.
2) One key benefit of having parents as volunteers, they tend to run with the other parents of the ministry, so having strong parent volunteers, their hands spread wide. So the other parents know what they are hearing from actual parents about the ministry.
3) I have a parent advisory committee and I would never go without it again.
4) I had one and I would never do it again – they felt like they took on more power than they were supposed to have or needed.
5) Having parents that I can say, “the other parents thought it was a good idea.” Can be powerful.
6) Utilize parents as volunteer leaders.
7) Healthy time with the parents. Healthy time with their kids.
8) Time is a HUGE issue. The longer you are there, the more they will respect you.
9) Ask parents questions. Especially about the ministry. It is very powerful when you are willing to swallow your pride and ask the parents questions about how they feel about the ministry and what is going on.
10) To love on our families, many of our parents are tired of fighting the fight and want to throw in the towel with their child. So we tell our volunteers to look for opportunities to say something positive to the parent about the parent, but also find opportunities to say something positive to the parent about their child. This makes a HUGE impact. Find ways to affirm the kid to the parent and affirm that the parent is doing a good job with their child. This can make a huge impact.
11) Pray for the family and ask them how you can pray for their family and how you can pray for them individually. This will break down walls and it is amazing the trust this brings and what comes out of it. This goes so far. Also make sure to remember what they shared and follow-up to ask them how things are going with that issue.
12) Parents become your best advocates when you make it through conflict with them and stick with it. Even when it is as hard as having to kick the kid out of youth group. Hearing their struggles is powerful.
13) If parents are the primary disciplers of students (or should be), then why do we spend so much time pulling them away from families and doing other stuff.
14) Sometimes we can find ourselves feeling in competition with parents, expecting them to change their schedules and lives based around our ministry. But, how do we do ministry in this context?

One of the things that we have done, only once though, is offer family mission trips. We sent our staff on one of them a year ago and she just went there. It was great because she got to know 4 families.

Sometimes families see us as taking value away rather than adding value to their lives (families).

We all have to see ourselves as what we provide and the value we add to families is not a side thing, but the most important thing. What we give to families is amazing.

You Win parents when you show up at their kid’s stuff.

Where else do parents go to get this? We all have a resource that is unique in this way. We play a real cool role that in most places in society we have eliminated. It is one of the few places we still go after getting loving adults to engage in these real cool ways. This is very valuable.


Starting off with the Cultural Trends
1) Competition for time (such as sports, music, etc.)
2) Facebook, Myspace, cell phones, and more technology
3) The speeding up of growing up (growing up too soon), but also the lengthening of adolescence
4) New trends/issues
5) Post-email generation in terms of communication (IM and TXTing)
6) Music culture
7) Increased level of disrespect
8) Greater feelings of entitlement
9) Relationship differences
10) Spirituality is trendy
11) Kids are being exposed to more and more at a younger age
12) Information is being communicated faster, so the times change at a faster rate as well.
13) False Community – Internet community, virtual community, etc.

What are we facing and concerns about the false/virtual community? What are the issues concerned with that?
1) Kids act like one person in church and a completely different person online or on their myspace/facebook.
2) Spend so much time in the virtual world, they don’t understand what it means to have a genuine community.
3) Lack of a holistic identity
4) Causes more of an internal, identity war. A certain amount of this is actually healthy in development, but the false-community aspect of it doesn’t allow them to truly discover who they are.
5) We are now allowed into a more personal part of their lives than we were before because of what they are willing to post on their sites.
6) Challenge of when we find out information about them that is beyond what is appropriate and deciding when do we just approach the student and when do we have to take it to the parent.
7) At what point do you approach your leadership team about what they are posting on their myspace/facebook page. Do you allow it or stop it, or how do you deal with it?
8) How we come across the information is just changing – but our responsibility to respond to that information is still the same.
9) Potential schools and employers will check out individual myspace pages for information and to make decisions about hiring the person.
10) There tends to be a distinct difference between the types of students who are using facebook and those who are using myspace. (interesting article — link on — about this shift going on in that myspace is becoming the urban, blue-collar site, and the high school kids that are college bound are switching to facebook)

What are tangible things that you are doing in light of all of this?
1) We make sure the leaders know that we are the same person on facebook and myspace and in person. The kids need that foundation.
2) Kids are sharing things more openly on facebook and myspace than they are in person. It is a “safety net” for the kids.
3) Communication is happening quicker and in a more powerful and creative way.
4) Instant access to so many more people!!!
5) Help the parents be aware of it
6) Help students to navigate and be aware of the online dangers and communities.
7) We do an internet safety seminar for parents to help make them aware.
8) Encourage parents to communicate to their own children about all of this technology.
9) For most parents of Jr. Highers this technology is foreign to the, so it scares some, some are confused, some are clueless, etc. It is important for us to help parents to get their arms around this thing. Parents will look to us for help and insight into this type of thing.
10) Lots of parents don’t even know about any of this. Don’t just give them the negatives, but also help share the positives of this new way of communication and community. There are lots of positives too.
11) Walk parents through how to use myspace and facebook. Project it on a screen and walk them through it.

Let’s talk about the whole idea of growing up too soon:
1) This is not a new issue. David Elkind, “All Grown Up and No Place to Go”. This maybe feels more pertinent now than it did then, but there has always been a feel of accelerated adolescence.
2) From the shrinking of the world on the internet and the speed of communication, it may not be that there is more immorality than before, but a sooner loss of innocence because of the availability of it and the speed of it.
3) It’s not just on the internet, but even on billboards and on TV (even Disney Channel), the material is more mature.
4) The change is not ALL bad stuff. It is just more stuff and quicker. More stuff, bad and good. 12 year olds who know how to use Wikipedia could be a good thing. This is interestingly tied to the average age drop in the age of puberty. There has to be some point that this stops, but it has not shown any signs of slowing down yet.
5) “Adolescence” is extending, so you have kids exposed earlier, and it is lasting longer. This creates a weird dichotomy.
6) Spring Break is an example. It used to be an older college thing, then a younger college thing, now it is not just a high school thing, but an even younger high school thing.
7) Kids are marketed to more now than ever before in history. Jr. Highers have access to their parents’ pocketbook and now they are marketing to them.
8) is a blog that we all should have in our bookmarks. Also a good book titled “totally wired” by Anastasia Goodstein, about pre-teens and teens.
9) “Everything bad is good for you” by Steven Johnson is another book recommendation. He looks at the neurological side of technology and it’s impact on intelligence.
10) If we take the technology side away, we also have pressure for Jr. Highers to perform in school, sports, etc. The allowance for Jr. Highers to be lazy for a year or 2 is now gone. Where are we giving in, where are we pushing back, how are we dealing with all of this?
11) A kid’s identity is all wrapped up in what they do. ** “The Price of Privilege” by Madeleine Levine (book) – about the effects of growing up in an affluent society. The author talks about how students can’t tell her about who they are other than what is wrapped up in the things that they do.
12) Do we program and hold these kids to a level that is too high when they really want to just be a kid. Many of these students just want to be a kid a while longer.
13) Is there really a philosophy and theology of play in our ministry? Play is not based on performance (which looks like and mimics adulthood), but is not what students need or want. How much do we see that (or the lack of that) in our students and our student ministry.
14) The transition from not yet pre-teen to middle adolescent is that they are still children, but trying on adult behaviors during that time. With that attitude, I try to make sure I don’t encourage older behaviors, or discourage childish behaviors. Creating space for play is important. They have lipstick in one hand and a teddy bear in another.
15) Intentionally in our games we make games that are not the kind of competition that is thrust into their lives in every other part of their lives. We structure the teams so there is no winning or losing or competition, but just about having fun and playing.
16) Make everyone equally inept and level the playing field, so that even the sports superstar is like everyone else, and you are all on the same level. This is one way of doing it.
17) We need to create space for both the kid stuff and the adult stuff and allow for the ebb and flow of both of those areas.

Amazing new book: Dan Kimball – “They Like Jesus, not the Church” — Talks about how people hate the church and Christianity bubbles, but they love to talk about Jesus.

Humans all long to be part of something bigger than ourselves. This is one reason that people are so interested in spirituality.

We need to be really careful not to address Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. by teaching only about: Here is about them, here is what is wrong with them, and nothing else. If we teach it, we need to be more complete about it and frame it in a larger context. We have to help kids work their way through it. The interest can be viewed as disheartening, or viewed as any interest in spirituality as a good thing because they are open to that. If we can not spin it but take it down a positive road of the truth.

Are we confident enough in God and the Holy Spirit to believe that he could draw people to himself through other means, and even exploring other spiritual issues?

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