Monday, February 7, 2011

Parents Are Vital!

This last weekend I was at Southeast Conclave in Chattanooga Tennessee with about 1100-1400 other youth workers, teachers, preachers and students. We were challenged by great speakers and several break out sessions. The one I taught on staying in the Youth Ministry for the long haul was particularly good, uhm..however, one of the sessions Dr. Jackson from New Orleans Theological Semainary, taught a session on what it takes to make a good kid. What do good kids have in common. The seminar was inciteful but also a true reminder of the number one roll of parents in the lives of their teens. Pastor Ryan Epps put together the notes from this break out session on line in his blog. Instead of me retyping the same facts, the same notes, from the same seminar; I thought I would copy his blog, give him the credit and post it for you.

This doesn't gurantee that your child will always turn out right because they live in a sinful world, and man is a fallen creature. However, this is set for you to read so you will be in the know and understand that you are to be faithful to the Lord God no matter what nor how hard it may be.

It's a great read. Take your time, ponder the facts, and as I always say, "Stay In The Word."

Parents…you are vital!!

This past weekend was a phenomenal time at Southeast Conclave in Chattanooga and we all left energized and motivated even greater in the calling to young people and their families. I sat in one of Dr. Allen Jackson’s (no not the country singer) seminars which was titled, “What makes good kids good.” While most of the information he shared we already know deep down, I would like to share some very valuable facts I gathered from my time that I pray can help confirm some issues for parents.

Allen says that some things most of us know, we have a generation that has quit coming to church (18-30 yrs old). There are some things to think about here. Most Christian students don't know how to explain what they believe in. I believe they may have a lot of knowledge from home teaching, children & youth ministry teaching, and possibly even Christian schools. When they are faced with heavier life decisions, secular college professors challenging them, and college life hammering down, they soon discover that all the knowledge was never rooted in the heart and lifestyle. In Christian Smiths book, “Soul Searching,” he calls this, “religion operating in the background.” Allen says that this is called, “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”

Moral: I know right from wrong / Therapuetic: I need God to make me feel better. / Deism: Maybe God did create the world, but He really isn't involved in day to day life.

With this expressed, this is what I would like to share with parents. There have been millions of teenagers surveryed over the past 30 years all across the country. Despite the rise of many factors in young peoples lives, one major truth still stands. The single most important social influence on religious life is their parents. Richard Ross says that the family environment around young people is a major variable in how things go for them in adulthood.

Let’s think about the Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

a. They know right from wrong (Moralistic) because parents spend so much time sharing this in their discipling. The larger influence here is the parents living the example of making the decision between right and wrong.

b. They want God to make them feel better (Therapeutic) because they connect this aspect to their parents. Parents want to make their children feel better and many times try to “fix it.” This is totally natural and having my own child, I understand this. The greater influence would be the parent who teaches their child the possible purpose God has in the midst of their struggles. The parents need to let them experience the struggles, grow from them, thus being stronger because of them instead of trying to remove them from the problem. Yes, there are some issues that parents need to remove the child from, but there are many others that they could help lead their child through.

c. They believe for the most part that God created the world, but don't really think He is involved in day to day life (Deism). I believe that part of this is because they relate Gods involvement to church attendance on a Sunday and/or Wednesday and dont experience much outside of this. Parents can have a huge hand in this developement by taking the main role in being the ones who disciple their kids. Help them see God through their day when daily debriefing time comes in the evening before bed or whenever that time is for the family.

Ulitmately, young people will come to the age of accountability and personal responsibility, but I believe parents are the most impoartant factors in that developement. The choices and lifestyles of the parents are key, but also just as vital is the parents involvement in purposed discipleship teaching.

All of this helped me years ago to realize that it wasn't the youth ministries fault (or the Youth Minister) we are losing teens. Yes, I believe they play a huge role, but I believe parents are the best ones to disciple their kids.

Parents, I know it is a huge task to be this to your child, but the lifelong rewards are phenomenal. I don't believe in the statement, “its just too late.” No matter what age your child is, if they are still in your home, it is never too late to embarq on this journey with your child. I would love to share tangible ideas and directions you can take with your child. Feel free to contact me. I would love to come along side you in these efforts.

STATS: Dr. Jackson mentioned a few stats that are worth mentioning. He asked a couple thousand seminary students who are just previously post high school whom have stayed connected in the church and living moral lives what influences helped them.

a. 75% said parents/grandparents were their main influence.

b. One of the top contributing factors were that their parents were consistent in their own faith.

c. They described adult volunteers in the youth ministry as mentors.

d. Church was positive when friends were mentioned. (We need to create an environment where each student is missed and valued).

e. Most of them worked 10+ hours per week or played varsity sports. Creates discipline. (get them away from hours of video games, internet, & T.V.).

f. “Youth group” was mentioned as more positive than “church.” (they need more than just to sit in a worship service and miss out on the youth programs and activities)

g. 9th grade was pivotal – this is a developmental shift to the ability to think logical.

h. Each student needs 7 adults whose belief in them is unwavering and who speak encouragment into their lives. 2 of them need to be parents. (Proof that students need to be plugged into a youth ministry with loving adults).

*Just a few facts and stats to think about. from Boone Trail Baptist Church, Johnson City, TN.

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