Posts belonging to Category Teens

Preparing Christian Students for College

This is helpful information for teens, parents, youth groups and youth leaders. The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (CPYU) interviewed a number of college students as part of their College Transition Initiative. They asked them the following questions:

  • What was the biggest adjustment you faced transitioning to college?
  • Were you able to get connected to a church or campus ministry fellowship? If so, how did you get connected? If not, why was it difficult to get connected? Or, why did you choose not to get connected?
  • As you reflect on your church youth group experience, what are some things you wish your youth group would have done more of to prepare you for college?
  • Understanding the challenges that college life brings, what are some things you wish your youth group would have done less of?
  • What advice would you give college bound high school students who are thinking about the college transition?

You can read their answers at the Student Interviews page. Or, you could interview your own Christian college students and have them share their answers with the youth at your church.

HT: Stand to Reason

Teens and Time Spent Online

If your kids are awake, they’re probably online. So reads the headline to a story in yesterday’s New York Times about today’s teens and how much time they spend online. The article highlights a new study on the online lives of children and teenagers by the Kaiser Family Foundation. As the report states:

Eight-to-eighteen-year-olds spend more time with media than in any other activity besides (maybe) sleeping — an average of more than 7 1/2 hours a day, seven days a week. The TV shows they watch, video games they play, songs they listen to, books they read and websites they visit are an enormous part of their lives, offering a constant stream of messages about families, peers, relationships, gender roles, sex, violence, food, values, clothes, an abundance of other topics too long to list.

These numbers are up from an average of nearly 6 1/2 hours a day measured five years ago. The study attributes the higher numbers to increased use of mobile devices such as cell phones and iPods.

It also cites a lack of parental supervision. According to the report, most youth say they have no rules about how much time they can spend with tv, video games, or computers. But when parents do set limits, children spend less time with media: those with any media rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day than those with no rules.

“The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it’s even more than a full-time work week,” said Drew Altman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “When children are spending this much time doing anything, we need to understand how it’s affecting them – for good and bad.”

If you would like some tips on managing media consumption in the home, let me recommend an earlier series from this blog on the subject: Taming Technology in the Home. What are your thoughts about teens and time spent online?

Don’t Waste Your Sexuality

Josh Harris has some positive things to say to young men on the topic of “Don’t Waste Your Sexuality.”

(Video length: 2:54)

Don’t waste your sexuality … in just our modern world I think that most people would say that our sexuality is our own, it’s all about our own pleasure, our own desires. And yet when you realize that all of life belongs to God, it’s for God, it really transforms your view. And so I think to waste your sexuality is to think that it’s only about this moment, or it’s only about just satisfying an urge. But our sexuality is such a rich thing … as a single person your sexuality is telling you something. It’s telling you that marriage is a good thing, it’s driving you towards something.

And so I think about young men that I interact with, and you know, trying to be godly and holy when it comes to sex can feel like such a burden, like, “Does God have a bad sense of humor? He gives me all these desires and then he says, ‘But don’t do anything with it.'” And the truth is, no, he does call you to restrain yourself and to preserve yourself for marriage, and yet you are supposed to do something with it. And what you’re supposed to do with it is to allow that desire to drive you, to say first of all, “I’m going to get my life in gear. I need to get a job, I need to start working hard to be a man of maturity and spiritual insight and discernment so that I can lead a family, a wife …

And then you get married, and you realize that your sexuality and the joy of that in marriage is something that’s constantly bringing you back to intimacy, constantly driving you to the good work involved with preserving intimacy and just bonding a husband and wife together. All these [are] different ways that God uses this gift to fulfill his purposes and to direct us and guide us, and when we engage our sexuality for him, it becomes a beautiful thing. It has purpose … and it’s not just about trying to seek some greater and greater thrill.

Look at the emptimess of our pornography-saturated world, and just how it becomes more and more meaningless. It literally is wasted and poured out for nothing. And yet when you look at God’s plan, you see not only pleasure, but delight and purpose that ultimately points us back to the giver of that good gift.

Helping Teens Make Responsible Media Choices

The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding | How To Use Your Head To Guard Your Heart: A 3(D) Guide To Making Responsible Media Choices

The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding has put together a new guide to help teens evaluate the media in their lives. The guide is called: How To Use Your Head To Guard Your Heart: A 3(D) Guide To Making Responsible Media Choices.

The 3(D) Guide allows you to teach your students how to move from being “mindless consumers” of media, to an approach of “mindful critique” as they learn how to filter all media through the lens of a Christian worldview. Because teenagers are at a developmental stage where intellectual and cognitive abilities are taking shape, the 3(D) Guide is a tool that allows adults to walk alongside students as they begin to develop the ability to think for themselves.

The 3(D) Guide teaches students 3 Media Evaluation Steps:

  1. Discover: Discover the message and worldview communicated in the piece of media.
  2. Discern: Evaluate attitudes, values, behaviors, beliefs and worldview elements in light of God’s Word.
  3. Decide: Make God-honoring decisions regarding their media use, consumption, and habits.

This looks like great material for youth groups, small groups or youth retreats. The cost is $15 for a pack of 10. You can download a free leaders guide here. You can also download a free media survey to get a handle on how your teens utilize media in their lives.

HT: Stand to Reason

Related posts: Taming Technology in the Home series

Back to School Tips on Sharing Your Faith

Jane Dratz offers some great tips for teens on sharing your faith as you go back to school for the fall.

Most students view the start of the new school year as an opportunity for new beginnings – a time for signing on with new school clubs and organizations. So step up and invite your unchurched friends to join you for youth group where they can make new friends, have some fun and explore spiritual truths about God.

Dratz gives the following suggestions to help you get the conversation going:

  • Talk about schedules and plans for the new school year. Ask your friends how they decide what’s important . . . This may open the door for you to talk about how your spiritual beliefs impact how you choose to spend your time. Let them know Jesus is important to you and why!
  • Ask your friends what they think of church. Listen. Then share your experience. Invite them to join you for youth group at least once, just to check it out first-hand.
  • Once you know what they think of church, ask them what they think about God. Do they believe in God? Why or why not? Share what you believe.

Your school years can be fruitful years for Christian witness when you commit yourself to sharing about Christ with others. Read Dratz’ full article for some more great suggestions.

Lifeway Survey on Teens and Christian Faith

Here are some of the results from a January-February 2007 Lifeway Research study on American teens and Christian faith.

How to get to heaven:

  • 28% are trusting in Jesus Christ alone as their means to get to heaven.
  • 27% are trusting in their own kindness as their means to get to heaven.
  • 26% are trusting in their own religiosity as their means to get to heaven.

Attendance/participation in church activities in the last 30 days:

  • 54% attended a church or religious service.
  • 23% attended a church youth group social activity.
  • 20% attended Sunday School.
  • 14% attended a small-group Bible study.
  • 8% have been in a leadership role within their youth group.

Some results show a decline compared with an identical 2005 survey:

  • Believe heaven exists: 75% in 2005; 69% in 2007.
  • Told a friend about their religious beliefs: 30% in 2005; 24% in 2007.
  • Attended Sunday School: 24% in 2005; 20% in 2007.
  • Invited someone to a church activity: 19% in 2005; 15% in 2007.
  • Attended small group Bible study: 18% in 2005; 14% in 2007.

Age and gender differences:

  • Older teens (18 and 19 year-olds) are less likely than 12-17 year-olds to attend youth group activities (13 percent vs. 26 percent), and they are less likely to attend Sunday school (8 percent vs. 24 percent).
  • Female teens are more active religiously than their male counterparts. More females pray regularly (48 percent vs. 31 percent) and read the Bible regularly (17 percent vs. 11 percent) than male teenagers.
  • The level of teen participation is also higher for females than males for church youth group social activities (26 percent vs. 20 percent), small group Bible studies (18 percent vs. 11 percent), and leadership roles in their church youth group (10 percent vs. 6 percent).

As a pastor and parent of teens, I am concerned to see the confusion over how to get to heaven, the decline in areas of faith and participation, the radical drop in participation from older teens, and the lesser involvement of young men in church life. These should all be areas of concern, prayer, and action for churches in America.

HT: PastorBlog

Why Email is Dying Out with Younger Generation

“Email is for old people” – so says the younger generation (ages 13-24). They still use email when they need to, but it is no longer their primary means of written communication. For the younger generation, email has largely been replaced by text messaging (SMS), instant messaging (IM), and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

So why is email dying out? Stephen Wellman offers the following three reasons why today’s young people prefer these other means of communication:

  1. Control. The advantage of text messaging, IM, and social network sites, compared with e-mail, is that these systems are controlled by users’ buddy lists. While spamming inside these modes of communications does happen, it’s still much harder and more expensive to spam people through IM, text, and social networks than it is through e-mail.
  2. Immediacy. IM is instant and so, too, is SMS. Social networks are immediate, too. E-mail is slower. Users have to wait for a response and e-mail communication isn’t, in most cases, a real-time dialogue.
  3. Personalization. E-mail is a cold medium. It’s not as personal as social networking, where message updates and friend connections extend users’ online personas through their communications. Cell phones are, almost by definition, highly personal devices and, likewise, younger users see text messages as more intimate.

So, what do you think? Is email really on its way out? How about some of the younger readers of this blog? Is email “just so twentieth-century?”

HT: Jim Martin, at A Place for the God Hungry

Teens, Religion and Sex

The Dallas Morning News recently conducted a Q&A with Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas in Austin. Regnerus helped lead a multi-year research project on teens, religion and sex, the results of which appear in his new book, Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teens.

Here are some excerpts:

One of the arguments in your book is that religion makes a difference in the lives of American teens. What difference does religion make?

Simply being Presbyterian or Catholic or evangelical is not as important as internalizing the faith. Kids for whom Christianity is a central identity – not just another aspect of their lives – tend to make more thoughtful and mature decisions about sex. But this is rarer than most people think: Less than 10 percent of all youth do this.

In the book, you write about surprising findings concerning evangelical teens. What were they?

Evangelical teens express conservative attitudes about sex, but they are very average in their actual behavior. Why? Because evangelical kids live in two worlds. The new world tells them to value career, self-fulfillment, happiness and entertainment – and this is what adults and parents model for them. But the old world – to which evangelicals still pay deference – values keeping commitments, God, marriage and delaying pleasure.

Most American kids only live in the new world. Evangelicals still inhabit both. The result is conflict and compromise: old world values but new world actions.

Parents and adults, did you get that? Unless we model what we believe, our teens are less likely to follow through on what they believe. We teach with our lives as much if not more than with our words.

HT: The Evangelical Outpost