Sunday, April 27, 2014

PARENTS: Teenagers driving you crazy??

Disciplining teenagers can often be a challenge. The key is to stand firm and not let them dig into your emotions or start a power struggle. The minute you relent because they won't stop complaining is the minute you have lost the battle and they will know they can get away with whatever it is. They are smart and their goal is to get what they want. Why? Because they're teenagers and this is what they do to develop independence.

As a teacher some of us are taught that there is a time-out for teenagers. It works similarly to a regular time-out but comes with a little logic. This process works for me a lot in class and with teenagers in my youth group. It's simple and about giving the kid time to recognize what they've done and come up with their own punishment or as I like to call it... natural consequences to choices.

Here's how it works:
  1. Think about it. If you're at home have the child sit alone at the dining room table or anywhere else they will not be able to talk to somebody. Do NOT send them to their room to call/text/email friends. If you're at church have them sit in a room by themselves or outside the classroom. "Think about why you're here. I'll be back to talk about it." This gives them time to think or calm down if necessary. 
  2. Talk about it. "Let's talk." Sit down with the child and say, "Why are we here?"  If they respond with sarcasm say something like, "Make yourself comfortable here for a while longer and I'll come back when you're ready to talk." Most of the time they'll change their attitude but if they don't have them sit there for 10-15 minutes before you check in again.
  3. Take responsibility for it. "What's going on? Why are we here?" They always know what they did wrong but may not be willing to admit it... yet. If not give them a few hints. "Chances are it could be your attitude or your behavior. What do you think?" It may take a few more minutes of contemplation for them to realize it would be better for them to talk than sit there all day. Once they own it, "Why do you think that was a problem?"  
  4. Make it right. There are really only two options: A problem with another kid or a problem with an adult, either way they need to find a way to fix what they broke. "How can you fix it?"  "What do you think the consequence of that should be?" The consequence should be related to the offense be agreed upon by both the child and the adult. If the option isn't really going to fix it respond with, "How will that work? or How will that make it right?" If necessary you can just tell them, "I don't think that's going to work for me. Think a little longer. I'll be back." When the issue is rebuilding trust they need to understand how difficult it is to rebuild.
  5. Encourage. "I don't know" is never an appropriate response it just means they need more time to think or a few suggestions. Be encouraging about their ability to make it right. "I know you can figure it out." Keep thinking. When they come up with an appropriate consequence respond positively. "That sounds like a good plan. Good work!" "Good idea. Is there something I can do to help?" "Let me know how it goes. 
  6. Follow Up! Make sure they follow through with the plan on how to make it right.
Remember that when a child doesn't take the process seriously they need to sit and wait a little longer and you shouldn't try to reason with an angry kid or try to fix it for them. This is about them being responsible for their behavior.

Sample ideas for fixing it (remember that the consequence should relate to the offense):
  • Apologize in person.
  • Clean it up.
  • Admit to the owner you took it, broke it, etc.
  • Admit what you did to your parents.
  • Replace it.
  • Create a plan so it doesn't happen again. 
  • No electronics for a week or two.
  • Not being able to use the car.
  • Not being allowed to drive to social events.
  • Limited computer usage.
  • Not doing something without a chaperone.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

YOUTH: Graduating Seniors Send-Off

It's coming on that time of year again where the church's children will be graduating from high school and preparing to face the world independently. We raise them for 18 years, preparing them to enter college and/or the world of work. We hope and pray we've instilled Christian values, a work ethic, a passion for life, and the strength and courage not to be afraid to be God's child in a world that continues to reject Him. This is the moment we set them free and trust that God will guide them and bring them to fruition according to His purpose. How do you send them off?  With the support and prayer of the church. (And maybe a cake.) I've posted on how to keep them connected with the church before. See that posting here.

SAMPLE PRAYERS (used by Sinai Lutheran Church in Fremont, NE)

Child of God, in your baptism you were sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the sign of the cross of Christ forever. Know that as you travel the road of life, the love of God goes with you everywhere, always and forever. Receive this (in this case the gift was a blanket) as a sign of God's abiding love. Know that each time you (feel its warmth, touch it, look at it) that you are loved, supported and remembered in the prayers of this community.
Gracious God, send your blessing upon these your faithful servants. Give to them a renewed sense of your call and purpose wherever they live, work or play. Grant them courage to take risks, to struggle, to fail, to wrestle with doubt, to live in trust that you welcome them with arms outstretched in mercy. Remind them that their hope is not in right answers, right behavior, but wholly in you and your love for the world through your death and resurrection. Guide them in their successes that their achievements would be done to your glory and serve the well-being of your cherished creation. Strengthen them in your love and keep them in faith. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
If you want to consider giving them a gift, try one of these:
  • A hand-tied blanket.
  • A handmade cross to hang on their dorm room wall.
  • A framed collection of favorite uplifting Bible verses put together by their youth group friends.
  • A book of memories. (See a previous posting here.) With the thousands of photos kids take this should not be a problem. Be sure to add memorable/funny quotes! 
  • Put the photos into a slide show of some kind they can take on their laptops, iPads, or phones.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

PARENTS: College Move-In = Church Visit

College is a very typical time for young adults to fall away from the church because they don't have their parents getting them up in the morning, have their friends waiting to see them, or feel comfortable among strangers. Also, they may not have easy access to a church as not all students head to college with a car or may be a bit shy about trying to round up a ride or invite a friend with a car to go to church with them. None of this means they have lost their faith or will not eventually go back to church once they're done with college or begin establishing a stable life, getting married, having children, etc. It is actually an important time because these are the years where they choose what activities their life will include. They are setting their priorities.

If this is a concern for the parents I offer up a suggestion:  When you drop them off at college for their freshman year be sure that you're there on a Sunday so you can go to a close, local church together, meet the pastor, perhaps a few young people, stay for an appropriate Bible study and help your child become comfortable there. Ask if it is possible that somebody could give them a ride on Sundays.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

FUNDRAISER: Wall of Money

I recently heard of another fundraiser that people are saying works really well. Kids don't have to sell anything and over time they should be able to raise quite a bit of money. Personally, I think it would work best when raising money for a specific mission trip or journey to a National Youth Gathering. The idea is that there are a bunch of envelopes labeled with money amounts from $1 to whatever you decide and people choose an envelope and pay whatever the dollar amount is on the envelope. Simple? Yes! A small chart shows amounts below.

     Number of Envelopes       Amount Raised
           $1 - $50                                             $1,325
           $1 - $100                                           $5,150
           $1 - $150                                         $11,475

The number of envelopes you have would depend on the size of your congregation and how much time you have to raise the money.

There may be a few concerns with raising money this way:
  1. Yes, it's a lot easier than the kids working for it but then again, the kids aren't working for it. Kids these days are given a lot without working for it. What kind of message does that send? You may not want the youth to think all they have to do is ask and money starts showing up.   
  2. You want to be sure you have a fundraising policy about how the money is split up before you start. With this kind of fundraiser I recommend that it goes into the general fund and is distributed evenly between them. There are no individual profits here as there is no individual effort.
  3. Does you policy include learning goals for the kids? For example, some congregations are willing to give money to the youth but want to make sure they earn it somehow and show their appreciation to the congregation through service of some kind for their financial support.
  4. This is another fundraiser where it's the congregation that supports the youth above and beyond what they already give to the church and members of smaller congregations don't necessarily have the funds to be giving to the youth every time they turn around. Pay attention to how many times you're going to the congregation for extra financial support and try to have a good balance of fundraisers that hit up people inside and outside of the congregation. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

SERVICE: Build a Men's Servant Team

Men like to study the Bible and serve but they don't like doing it the way we seem to keep pushing them to do it.

  • They want more than just being an usher or sitting through endless (and not extremely motivating) meetings. Men like a cause. 
  • They do not want to sit in a circle and share their feelings. Men want tools to help them lead their families and words of wisdom. 
  • They don't want to drink tea or make smoothies together either, though they might be willing to grill....

Ever think of building a men's servant team? It doesn't have to be a big deal and they don't have to be constantly active. Send out a survey to see who might be interested in helping shut-ins or the elderly in the community. Get some shirts with a simple but cool logo so they feel like they're part of a team and send them out on projects. Start with those people in the congregation and if it works they can open up their service to the larger community. Create an online sign-up so it's easy and be sure to let them know it won't take up hours of their time every week. You can even put the jobs online using Sign Up Genius where the job and number of guys needed is included so guys can sign-up and everyone can see when it's covered and who's doing the job.

Let's teach our kids that service is not an event. It's taking care of each other all year long!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Many of you may already use this online resource but if you've never heard of it this is your moment! It's called SIGN UP GENIUS and it's going to make your life a lot easier. You can even collect payments through PayPal and limit sign-ups for a category. There are templates for church and school or you can build your own. Before you jump to building your own check out some of the templates to see what your options might be.

You can use this site for:
  • Sunday School Teacher Volunteers
  • Sunday Fellowship Coffee and Snacks
  • Potluck Dishes
  • VBS Donations and Volunteers
  • Donations for Youth Trips
  • Special Music
  • Flowers
  • Board Position Nominations
  • Youth Trip Participants
  • Event Participants
  • Event Volunteers for Different Time Slots
  • And many more...

There are resources online that you can check out too such as:
  • Genius Blog
  • Resource Articles
  • Webinars
  • Videos
  • And ready to use BUTTONS such as SIGN-UP, DONATE, and BUY NOW

Samples from the site: