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So-Called “Safe-Sex”

This article contains the full text of a recent newsletter from Dr. James Dobson, President of Focus on the Family. We do so in support of this fine organization, and as a service to our users. The radio programs of Focus on the Family can be heard several times a day on K-Praise (KPRZ) and K-Wave (KWVE). For broadcast times, please see the program schedules in Bulletins [8] and [9]. If you would like to contact Focus on the Family, you may do so by writing: Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995. Or call, 719/633-6287.

This information can also be downloaded as a text file from File Area 21 under the name DOBSON01.TXT.

February 13, 1992

Some of you may have seen the 90-minute ABC network television show on February 2 entitled “Growing Up in the Age of AIDS,” hosted by Peter Jennings. I was one of nine guests on that live program, including Dr.Antonia Novella, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. James Curran, of the Centers for Disease Control, and Dr. Timothy Johnson, ABC News medical editor. Unfortunately, the show’s producers attempted to pack too much into the program, granting each of us less than a minute or two to speak our minds. In my case, a single 45-second sound bite cost me a long journey and two hectic days in New York City.

As you will soon read in the March edition of ‘Focus on the Family’ magazine, I routinely turn down these kinds of network televisions’opportunities.’ In the past few years I’ve declined invitations to appear on “Nightline,” “20/20,” “48 Hours,” “Face to Face with Connie Chung,” “Crossfire,” Bill Buckley’s “Firing Line” and the morning network news programs. I have no desire for that kind of national exposure, and furthermore, the deck is usually stacked against those of us with a Judeo-Christian point of view. There are better things to do with my time.

When, then, did I travel to The Big Apple for such an insignificant role? Well, I had hoped for a few more minutes on camera. But more importantly, I felt a responsibility to express the abstinence position of national television, and I was afraid if I declined no one else would be asked. How long has it been since you’ve heard anyone tell teenagers why it is to their advantage to remain virgins until marriage? How sad that adolescents hear only the dangerous “safe-sex” message from adults who should know better. Maybe, I thought, I could get in a few plugs for abstinence and morality that would redeem the investment of time.

But here I am a few days later, flying home from New York with all the things I wanted to say still bottled up inside. Jennings permitted me one brief comment and then ignored my upraised hand through the remainder of the broadcast. So guess what? YOU get to hear those unspoken words. There is no issue…no social development throughout North America…that concerns me more than adolescent sexuality and what it portends for the future. The AIDS crisis and Magic Johnson’s infection have provided an unprecedented opportunity for Planned Parenthood and the other condom and abortion promoters to lobby virtually every teenager in the land. And believe me, they intend to exploit and indoctrinate the entire generation now in escrow.

We must not sit passively on the sidelines. If you have an adolescent in your family or know of one who will read a letter like this, PLEASE pass it on. They desperately need the truth that is being withheld from them. Yes, I meant to say “withheld”. There are facts that the “safe-sex” gurus will not tell the youngsters in their charge. As a result, teen promiscuity will continue and millions of kids…thinking they are protected…will suffer for the rest of their lives. Many will die of AIDS. Humanity will eventually lumber back around to the traditional understanding of morality, I suppose. Indeed, it MUST do so. Epidemics and pestilence will force a reconsideration, if the Lord tarries that long. But by then the consequences of defying God’s law will have wreaked havoc among us. How tragic!

What follows, then, is what I would have said on television if Peter Jennings had wanted to hear it.

“Why, apart from moral considerations, do you think teenagers should be taught to abstain from sex until marriage?”

No other approach to the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases will work. The so-called “safe-sex” solution is a disaster in the making. Condoms fail 15.7 percent of the time in preventing pregnancy among married couples. They fail 36.3 percent of the time in preventing pregnancy among young, unmarried minority women. The overall failure rate is as high as 44 percent in preventing pregnancy among unmarried Hispanic women. The ‘British Medical Journal’, reported the failure rate due to slippage and breakage to be 26 percent. Given these findings, it is obvious why we have a word for people who rely on condoms as a means of birth control. We call them…”parents”.

Remembering that a woman can conceive only one or two days per months, we can only guess how high the failure rate for condoms must be in preventing disease, which can be transmitted 365 days per year! If the devices are not used properly, or if they slip just ONCE, viruses, bacteria, yeast and fungi are exchanged and the disease process begins. One mistake after 500 “protected” episodes is all it takes. The damage is done in a single moment when rational thought is overridden by passion. Those who would depend on so insecure a method must use it properly on every occasion, and even then a high failure rate is brought about by factors beyond their control. The young victim who is told by his elders that this little latex device is “safe” may not know he is risking lifelong pain and even death for so brief a window of pleasure. What a burden to place on an immature mind and body!

Then we must recognize, as implied above, that condoms cannot even be accurately tested for AIDS protection, since the virus is one-tenth the size of the smallest detectable hole. Viruses are 450 times smaller than sperm, and pass easily through even the smallest gaps. Researchers studying surgical gloves made of our latex, the same material in condoms, found “channels of 5 microns that penetrated the entire thickness of the glove.” The HIV virus measures between .1 and .3 microns. Given these findings, tell me what rational, informed person would trust her or her very life to such flimsy armor?

I’m sure this explains why not one of 800 sexologists at a recent conference raised a hand when asked if they would trust a thin rubbers heath to protect them during intercourse with a known HIV-infected person. I don’t blame them. They’re not crazy, after all. And yet they’re perfectly willing to tell our kids that “safe sex” is within reach and that they can sleep around with impunity.

There is only one way to protect ourselves from the deadly diseases that lie in wait. It is abstinence before marriage, then marriage and mutual fidelity for life to an uninfected partner. Anything less is potentially suicidal.

“That position is simply not realistic today. It’s an unworkable solution: Kids will NOT implement it.”

Some will. Some won’t. It’s still the only answer. But let’s talk about an “unworkable solution” of the first order. Since 1970, the federal government has spent over $2 billion to promote condom usage and “safe sex.” This year alone, $450 million of your tax dollars will go down that drain! (Compared with less than $8 million for abstinence programs, which Sen. Teddy Kennedy and company have sought repeatedly to eliminate altogether.) Is it time we ask what we’ve gotten for our money? After 22 years and $2 billion, some 57 percent of sexually active teens still never use contraceptives during intercourse! Of the remaining 43 percent many use condoms improperly or only occasionally. That is the success ratio of the experts who call abstinence “unrealistic” and “unworkable.”

Even if we spent another $50 billion to promote condom usage, most teenagers would still not use them consistently and properly. The nature of human beings and the passion of the act simply do not lend themselves to a disciplined response in young romantics.

“But if you knew a teenager was going to have intercourse, wouldn’t you rather he would use a condom?”

No, because that approach has an unintended consequence. The process of recommending condom usage to teenagers inevitably conveys five dangerous ideas: (1) that “safe sex” is achievable; (2) that everybody is doing it; (3) that responsible adults EXPECT them to do it; (4) that it’s a good thing; and (5) that their peers KNOW they KNOW these things, breeding promiscuity. Those are very destructive messages to give our kids.

Furthermore, Planned Parenthood’s own data show that the number one reason teenagers engage in intercourse is ‘peer pressure’! Therefore, anything we do to imply that “everybody is doing it” results in more…not fewer…people who give the game a try. What I’m saying is that our condom distribution programs do not reduce the number of kids exposed to disease…they radically increase it!

Want proof of that fact? Since the Planned Parenthood-type programs began in 1970, unwed pregnancies have increased 87 percent among 18- and 19-year-olds. Likewise, abortions among teens rose to 346,900 in 1988; unplanned births went up 61 percent. And venereal disease has infected a generation of young people. Nice job, Planned Parenthood. Good thinking, senators and congressmen. Nice nap, America.

Having made a blunder that now threatens the human family, the same people who got us into this mess are continuing to establish our approach to teen sexuality. When will we recognize that they ARE they problem, not the solution to it!

“Let me press you further. If you were a parent an know that your son or daughter was having sex, wouldn’t you talk to him or her about proper condom usage?”

Having said that the failure rate of condom usage is incredibly high, perhaps 50 percent or greater in disease prevention, why would I recommend this “solution” to my son or daughter? Suppose they were sky divers whose parachutes had a 50 percent failure rate. Would I recommend that they simply buckle the chutes tighter? Certainly not. I would say, “Please don’t jump. Your life is at stake!” How could I, as a loving father, do less?

But there is another reason for talking to our kids about abstinence rather than “safe sex.” It is even more important than the life-and-death issue cited above. I’m referring to rebellion against God and His promise to punish sin. Jesus said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 KJV). Spiritual death is definitely worse than physical disability or death, and our kids deserve to know about this divine reality from the days of childhood.

Never! Never! Never would I withhold that vital information in favor of a “safe-sex” distortion.

“Again I say, kids won’t listen to the abstinence message. You’re just wasting your breath to try to see them a notion like that.

It is a popular myth that teenagers are incapable of understanding that it is in their best interest to save themselves until marriage. Almost 50 percent of all high school students are virgins today, even though hardly anybody has told them it is a good thing. (Even many churches preach the “safe-sex” message. I noticed while in New York City that Faye Wattleton, the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was scheduled to speak at the famous Marble Collegiate Church!)

As further evidence, I submit the record of an event held in Lexington, KY., several years ago. It featured ex-convict Harold Morris talking about abstinence, among other subject. The coliseum seated 18,000 people, but 26,000 teenagers showed up! Eventually, more than 2,000 stood outside the packed auditorium and listened over a hastily prepared public address system. Who says kids won’t listen to this time-honored message?

“Is AIDS God’s plague sent to punish homosexuals, lesbians and other promiscuous people?”

Let’s put it this way. If I choose to leap of a 10-story building, I will die when my body hits the ground below. It’s inevitable. But gravity was not designed by God to punish my folly. he established physical laws that can be violated only at great peril. So it is with His moral laws. They are as real and predictable as the principles that govern the physical universe. Thus, we knew (and He knew) with the onset of the sexual revolution back in 1968 that this day of disease and promiscuity would come. It is here, and what we do with our situation will determine how much we and our children will suffer in the future.

Well, that is but a small fraction of what I wanted to say on the Jennings television special. I also wanted to make a comment or two, with proper respect, about the hypocrisy of a program of that nature. All four networks and the cable television entities are wringing their hands about this terrible epidemic that has now invaded our bodies. They profess to be very concerned about those who are infected, and perhaps they are sincere. However, TV executives and movie moguls have contributed mightily to the existence of this plague. For decades, they have depicted teens and young adults climbing in and out of each others’ beds like so many sexual robots. Only the nerds were chaste, and they were to stupid or too ugly to find partners.

Of course, the beautiful young fornicators in those steamy dramas never faced any consequences for their sin. No one ever came down with herpes, or syphilis. or chlamydia, or pelvic inflammatory disease, or infertility, or AIDS, or genital warts, or cervical cancer. No patients were ever told by a physician that there was no cure for their disease or that they would have to deal with the pain for the rest of their lives. No one ever heard the human papilloma virus (HPV) kills more woman than AIDS, or that a strain is gonorrhea is not resistant to antibiotics. No, there was no downside. It all looked like so much fun. But what a price we are paying now for the lies we have been told. Pardon us, ABC, if your compassion seems a bit contrived. (By the way, it was on ABC that the young Doogie Howser said, “A man is a lot of things, but he’s not a virgin” Sept. 25, 1991).

Maybe this is why Peter Jennings didn’t ask for a further comment from me. He knew from my only remark that I was definitely not “politically correct.” I also learned since returning to Colorado Springs that Mr. Jennings served on the honorary committee for a homosexual political organization last fall. He shared this honor with Gloria Steinum, Bella Abzug, Phil Donohue and two homosexual members of Congress. That helps explain the philosophy that drives the man.

Before I leave this disturbing project, I want to share with you a brochure I received this morning from the federal Centers for Disease Control and the City of New York. It is entitled, “Teens Have the Right,” and is apparently intended to free adolescents from adult authority. Inside are six declarations that make up a “Teenagers’ Bill of Rights”, as follows:


Under this final item is a list of organizations and phone numbers that readers are encouraged to call. The organizations provide a range of services, including dispensing condoms to counseling “at-risk” teens. The philosophy of these programs reflects the homosexual agenda, which includes recruitment of the young.

Your tax dollars at work!

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to say something to you at this point that has not been written in any of my monthly letters. It is this: I NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU ON THIS SUBJECT. I’ve been airing radio programs, writing books and now, appearing (briefly) as a television guest in a lonely effort to counteract the assault on our kids. Frankly, the silence has been deafening at times. Gary Bauer and I expressed the danger in a book and a video series entitled “Children at Risk”, to which (according to the publisher) many pastors responded, “I don’t want to get involved.” Our inability to rally good people is depressing.

Frankly, I would find it very encouraging to know that YOU recognize the danger as well…that you are concerned about a generation of our best and brightest. No, writing a letter to me won’t change our precarious situation, but it will help us carry on with the struggle. At this moment, it seems like the opposition outnumbers our troops about 10,000 to one. A word or two of support would be welcome, and your prayers would be most appreciated.

I KNOW our cause is just. God bless you all!
signed: James C. Dobson, Ph.D  President

P.S. We are working hard on a television program and a school video onthis important subject. PLEASE pray with us specifically as we attemptto convey these ideas to today’s teenagers.

Note from Abba II:

Please share this information with your pastor, and let him know that Focus on the Family provides two 60-minute films in which Dr. Dobson and Gary Bauer describe ways you and your church can protect the next generation from the anti-family influences threatening your home. Based on the best-selling book, “Children at Risk,” this 16 mm presentation is available on a rental basis. For more information, contact Focus on the Family – Educational Resources at 1-800-932-9123, and ask for the Christian film distributor nearest you.

Also, if you would like to discuss these issues, please visit our Message Area. We look forward to your comments and/or questions.

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Ways to Tell Your Teens You Love Them

By Dayle Shockley

Teenagers may not be the most lovable creatures in the world, but they probably need more love during those turbulent years than at any other time in their lives.

If you’re a parent who finds it difficult to say “I love you” to your teen, take heart! You can tell your teen you love him or her without actually saying it. Here are some ways:

* Give plenty of hugs. I read once that human beings need 12 hugs a day. Sounds good to me. If you haven’t hugged your teen lately, don’t be embarrassed. Just do it!

* Show respect. The way you speak says as much as your words. Even ifyou’re correcting your teen, do it in a respectful way.

* Share time and energy. You know that parenting requires massive doses of time and energy. Regardless of what you may think, teens do notice the little things you do, such as ironing clothes, paying part of their car insurance and asking what they would like for lunch.

* Set reasonable limits. Even when teens try to talk their parents out of curfews, they feel secure knowing someone cares. Scott, 17, says that when his parents tell him no, they are trying to keep him from getting hurt. That understanding might not have come if his parents hadn’t first explained to him why they’d said no to a later curfew.

* Forgive and forget. Suzanne, now a grown woman, was 18 when she lost her virginity. The news crushed her parents. “When I saw their faces,” she remembers, “I wanted to die. If only I could have undone it.” Suzanne was prepared for anything-except forgiveness.

“We all cried together,” she says, “but I’ll never forget what happened after I went to bed that night. My dad crept into my room, bent down and kissed me on the forehead. He actually kissed me! It was the most incredible feeling.” Her parents’ forgiveness was a turning point in her life. “If they could forgive me, I know their love – and religion – was real.

* Keep praying. Perhaps the most loving thing a parent can do for their teens is pray for them. And let them hear you praying for them. Be bold and ask to pray with your teen before he goes to bed. You can even slip in after he’s sleeping and pray by his bedside.

Jeff remembers waking up in the night and finding his dad praying over him. “I knew that spelled ‘love,'” he says.

(The above information was published by FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, April 1992)

Christian Information Network

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How to Work with Teenage Youth Officers

By: William R. Goetz

The key to working effectively with youth officers lies in a clear understanding by the youth leader of his responsibility to these leaders.

He must realize that his purpose is to help his youth officers in their development as individuals and as leaders.

Dr. FIenry Brandt in Youth and the Church quotes Robert J. Havighurst on what he calls “developmental tasks” in the growing up process. “A developmental task is a task that arises at or about a certain period
in the life of the individual, successful achievement of which leads to success with later tasks, while failure leads to unhappiness to the individual, disapproval of society, and difficulty with later tasks.

Two of the ten tasks which Havighurst says teens should achieve are of special interest to youth sponsors in their work with teen officers.

These are: moving toward new relationships with parents and other adults and developing a wholesome attitude toward work.

In the matter of new teen relationships with adults a sponsor needs to help the officers accept new demands upon them to–

-make good use of talents
-help others to do their best
-accept the judgment of leaders and other experienced persons
-face problems with a patient spirit.

Helping youth in the development of wholesome work attitudes involves helping them learn these traits:

1. willingness to accept and discharge responsibility
2. respect for authority
3. ability to get along with people
4. desire to improve oneself.

How may a sponsor accomplish these goals?

The most important way is for him to demonstrate these qualities in his own life. By what he is he teaches and guides far more effectively than by anything he may say. And, if his example indicates otherwise,
his words will be of little value. Example is a prerequisite to earning and holding the respect and friendship of teens. Without this a sponsor will accomplish comparatively little.

But effective work with officers must go beyond just being a good example, as important as that is. A sponsor must see that opportunities to assume responsibility are given. He should observe officers carefully as they carry out these responsibilities. By commending them personally for good work, tactfully pointing out lapses, and suggesting areas where improvement could be made, the wise sponsor can have a tremendous influence upon his teens. (Obviously this type of help presupposes that the sponsor and teens are friends, and that the adult uses tact and wisdom in giving his help.)

Some sponsors have found that a job description periodically reviewed for each of the youth officers is a helpful tool in the task of working with young leaders.

Each year, after the election of officers, schedule a youth officers’ retreat.

1. Invite all officers, planning-group leaders, and committee chairmen to a campsite. Go on Friday afternoon and return on Saturday afternoon.

2. Include classes, recreation, and inspirational sessions. Have classes on subjects such as responsibilities in being a leader, how to lead a planning-group meeting, how to improve one’s personal devotions, how to lead singing, etc. Allow plenty of time when plans for the coming year can be discussed.

3. Ask young people to give short devotionals.

4. Make opportunity for sponsors and leaders to get to know each other.

5. Include a time of dedication and consecration of the leaders. This may be accomplished through a testimony service, a communion service, or both.

(The original publisher of the above material is unknown.)

Christian Information Network

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The Fashion Battle For Teen Girls: Is It Worth Fighting?

The Fashion Battle For Teen Girls: Is It Worth Fighting?
By Dannah Gresh

“What’s the number one thing that causes you to feel sexually tempted?” my husband asked a roomful of lanky teenage boys. They wasted no time answering. They mentioned a few common things and then hit on something they were all struggling with.

“I think the worst thing by far is…” he began then hesitated. “Well, the way girls dress in church.”

A room of bobbing heads affirmed him.

“It’s like church is supposed to be a place where you don’t have to face temptation and you walk in and …bammm! There it is.”

“How do you avoid that?”

They all turned their still-boyish eyes to the front pleading for a good answer.

Today’s teens are in the midst of a war as fashion pits girl against boy in daily battles for sexual integrity. Our girls believe the lie that seductive, sensual exposure is merely fashion. It’s not a subtle message. Candies, a popular teen clothing and shoe label, is currently running an abstinence campaign. It’s promoted by the sale of t-shirts—teeny, tiny, belly-revealing, breast hugging t-shirts that read “Be SEXY: It doesn’t mean you have to have sex.” The “virginal” Brittany Spears redefines purity with her revealing fashion. She teaches girls to be the forbidden fruit all-the-while masking it with the label of “pure.” Too many of our Christian daughters are either following the trend or fighting us because we won’t let them.

Is it just fashion? The Indianapolis News once wrote, “Those who minimize the correlation between immodesty and sexual promiscuity deceive themselves and others…”

There is support for such a brazen statement. It’s found in studies that analyze the risk of teen sexual activity that consistently point out that a girl who looks older than she actually is has a greater risk of sexual activity. These girls are made to look older by fashion and make-up, most of which hints at or blatantly advertises her sexuality. There is a strong case to argue that the end result of today’s immodest fashion is sexual promiscuity. It’s time for parents and churches to enter into the battle.

Most Christian parents recognize the need to address it, but many are at a loss as to how to do this. They fear creating a spirit of rebellion or robbing their daughter of her innocence. How is a parent to tackle the issue?

Affirm Your Daughter’s Female Allure
Researchers have thoroughly studied what makes a person spend time looking at advertising. If you really want to stop the reader, use a woman. It seems a photo of a woman will increase the length of time someone spends with an ad by 14-30%. What power!

God’s word affirms that power. Proverbs 5:17,18 says, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe a graceful deer. May her breasts satisfy you always. May you be ever captivated by her love.” That word “captivated” would be better translated “intoxicated.” The God of the universe looks down at woman and comfortably acknowledges the power she has to intoxicate a man.

Short, tall, thick, thin, freckles or fair skinned…your daughter is created with an incredible power. I like to call it the female allure. It is a power that your daughter must use wisely and modesty is a tool of using it well. You see, there’s a catch to that intoxication and if you tell her about the power, you’d better tell her specifically what God had in mind when he gave it to her.

Pinpoint the Purpose of That Power
Check out that Scripture passage once again. It tells a man to “rejoice in the wife of your youth….” In other words a man is to be intoxicated by just one woman. Again and again the Bible reconfirms that this intoxification is only to be shared with one man…and within the context of marriage. Until then, it’s under wraps—a secret to be shared with one man.

As you might have noticed, girls today aren’t the best secret keepers. They are clearly missing the mark of God’s intended purpose for her allure. Instead of intoxicating one man with her beauty, she intoxicates many men.

Explain The Male Mind Without Robbing Her of Her Innocence
Most young girls wear fashion with much naiveté. That doesn’t mean that there are not the occasional young girls who understand fully what they are doing when they flaunt their bodies, but I find them to be the exception.

You have a responsibility to explain the male mind without robbing her of her innocence? Now there’s a challenge! I think it can be done, though. I like to use a visual design theory when I talk to girls. The Gestalt Theory teaches a graphic designer to control a viewer’s time. Completing the incomplete intrigues the human brain, so a person will always pause to finish an unfinished picture. Check out these couple of squiggly lines. What else do you see? You think you see a person, because your brain completes the image.

How do you think this theory works when a girl walks down the street in front of a guy wearing a tight shirt with her belly bared? He completes the picture. It’s only natural for the human brain to do this when invited. What invites a mind to do this? A bared midriff, a low cut blouse, a tight t-shirt, a long slit in a long skirt or a mini-skirt are just enough of a peek at the body to cause a person to finish the picture.

If a young woman wants to use the power of her allure as God intended it to be used, she needs to be cautious not to awaken the imagination of many men by inviting them to complete the picture of her body.

Establish Dialogue & Expectations Early
If you explain these simple principles to your daughter when she is eight, nine and ten—rather than after she’s fully developed— she is more likely to embrace them. Talking to her before she develops also allows you to avoid making her feel like her new curves are “bad.” The issue is not her body. God made it and it is beautiful. The issue is the clothes. When we wait until our daughters develop to address modesty, they often feel self-conscious and guilty about the beauty that’s growing in them.

My Lexi is 8. Last summer we said “good-bye” to tiny spaghetti strapped t-shirts and we’ve talked about sitting in front of the mirror with her legs crossed so she can see what others might see when she’s wearing shorts and sits down. She likes the responsibility that comes with these mature guidelines. And, she’s quick to ask me if I’ve also tested my fashion choices.  Because I’ve introduced it early, it’s kind of a neat “girl-thing” for us to share and not some rule that’s between us.

Remember, The Battle Is Not Just For Your Daughter
Remember, you have wisdom that your daughter does not have. While you may understand what men and young boys will think when she walks through the hall in an outfit, she does not. Don’t be fooled into compromising because it’s a little battle. I’m convinced it’s not so little.

If you find yourself in a moment—and you will—when you wonder if this is a battle that’s really worth fighting, think of your son or the other young boys in your life.

After a long discussion, the boys my husband was talking with that day decided upon a battle plan for those days when a girl wore something to church that awakened desires. They developed a “front row code” which meant they’d simply approach another friend and say, “Will you sit in the front row with me today?” Together they’d avoid the temptation.

I’d like to think that when Lexi is a teenager and my son Rob, is in college, he could ask his sister to be the one to sit in the front row with him. That’ll only be possible if she’s embracing modesty. As beautiful and alluring as she is becoming, I want her to keep those secrets for just one man.

Dannah Gresh is the author of And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity and the newly released Secret Keepers: The Delicate Power of Modesty which is the first resource to teach teen girls to embrace modesty

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Disciplining Teenagers

Disciplining Teenagers
By Greg Bixby

Jack and Jim were the best of friends. So when Jim lost both his legs in a railroad accident, Jack did everything he could to help. At first, Jim was certain his career with the railroad was finished. Then the company gave him another job…as a signalman. His outpost was to be a lonely little stop, more than two hundred miles from anywhere. It was going to be lonely out there. Jack went along to be whatever help he could be on the new job.

In the beginning, Jack stuck around mostly for company. He swept out the little wooden shack, pumped water from the well, tended the garden, and made himself useful in all the ways legless Jim could not. There was a little trolley, a single seater that led from the shack to the signal tower. Jack pushed Jim on that trolley several times a day and stood there while Jim operated the big levers in sequence. Eventually, Jack got so familiar with Jim’s schedule that he began to walk out and operate the signal system himself.

Pretty soon, Jack began to take care of all the duties for the railroad, as well as the chores around the shack. There was a lot to be done, and a lot to remember. If a “point” needed to be adjusted down the line, Jack would listen for a passing engineer, flag him down, and give him a special key to make the adjustment. Daily responsibilities at the signal tower included working the levers that set the signals, as well as the tower controls that opened and closed the siding switches. There was a lot going on at the little outpost, and soon Jack was doing all the work. He never complained, it was the least he could do for his friend, Jim.

For more than nine years Jack kept house, pumped the water from the well, tended the garden, and trudged out to the signal tower each day to operate the heavy equipment. Then one day, Jack died. In all those years, Jack had never made one mistake. He never threw a switch incorrectly, never sided a car in error. There had not even been one narrow miss on the Port Elizabeth main line, all because of Jack. What makes this true story even more amazing is the fact that Jack was not a teenager at all. He was a baboon! If a baboon could be so trained, surely there is hope for discipling today’s teenagers.

What Is a Discipline?

The simplest meaning of the word disciple is a “learner” or “follower”.

Becoming a disciple incorporates both of these concepts. There has to be a communication of knowledge to begin the discipling process. Teaching our teens the basic information to live the Christian life is vital. Jesus said that we were His disciples if we would continue in His Word (John 8:31). How can a person continue in the Word of God if they have never been taught? The second aspect of learning the teachings of Jesus is to be able to relate those teachings to all of life.

There also has to be a communication of life to complete the discipling process. Being a follower alludes to the fact that someone is leading.

The second concept is the formation of character and value in young lives. Paul said that we should be imitators of him (1 Cor. 4:16 NIV). Showing our teens how to live the Christian life is also vital. This part of discipling is done by building quality relationships with young people and modeling the principles of Christian development.

We are not just teaching teens to know what we know, but to become what we are! Let’s focus in on how we might build quality relationships.

Essential of Quality Relationships

Be available and approachable. Do your best to be open and relaxed with your teens. Don’t let the abundance of planning and programming duties keep you from spending time with the kids. The best way to become more approachable is to be more relaxed around them. That comes with more and more personal experience.

Believe in them. Many of today’s youth are victimized by insecurity. They have a desperate need for someone to see beyond their surface problems and view something greater, their potential. Refuse to see the bad in them whenever possible. Your goal is to help them realize their hidden potentials.

Build self-esteem. Our society has placed too much emphasis on looks, wealth, and conformity, if you don’t have these, you are not important. Young people who are challenged to follow Christ struggle with the task of being in the world and not of it. Develop an attitude that edifies teens since they may not be getting it from their peers.

Be vulnerable. Young people are looking for real people with real problems who have found strength and guidance through their relationship with Christ. These are the role models that our kids need to see. They need to see the negative side of your life (problems and trials) and how you deal with it as much as they do the positive side. Observing your response to life’s difficulties can build stability in the young people you lead.

Love them unconditionally. Much of the love that teens are acquainted with has strings attached. They get love if they do a good job, get good grades, attend youth functions, or dress right. We need to offer them acceptance and love that is unconditional. They need to be accepted the way they are and where they are. If you can develop this, you will transform your personal presence into a place of refuge for them.

Meet them on their territory. The best learning takes place in real life situations. Before your teens believe many of the teachings you share with them, they will need to see you put them to work in your own daily living. It is easy to talk about Christian living while sitting in the church. Get yourself out into the real world and demonstrate to them the power of the truths you are sharing.

Learn to listen. The world is in short supply of good listeners. Good listening is selfless, patient, loving, supportive, kind and objective.

The level of worth you place on a young person is determined by the importance you place on his expressions and opinions. Begin listening to your youth, really listening! Encourage their expressions of faith, as well as their doubts. Allow them to be honest with you, this is the best way to take a look into their lives and assess their needs.

Be winsome. Genuine laughter, fun, excitement, enthusiasm, and plain joy with life are infectious. Learn to relax and enjoy life with your teens. It will be a soothing ointment for aching hearts and sullen spirits. This characteristic of winsomeness is a willingness to involve yourself in the joys and hurts of others. Don’t mistake it for an inborn charisma and be cheated out. Remember, a smile can break down many barriers.

Don’t give up. This type of quality relationship will not take place overnight. It will definitely take some time for us as youth leaders to change. It will take more time to implement it with the teens. Hang in there! You can do it! It just takes time!

The One and a Half Plan

This is a very easy way to begin your discipleship program. The One and A Half Plan will get you started down the road to building relationships. This is not very demanding, yet it will produce great results if you work it consistently. I highly recommend that you start with a simplified approach like this one:

a. 1 hour/week with one youth in discipleship (coke or meal)

b. 3 phone calls/week to kids in your group (15 min.)

c. 3 letters or notes/week to kids in your group (15 min.)

Seven contacts/week – 3 calls, 3 letters, 1 personal contact and you will have touched 365 kids and had 52 discipleship opportunities.

Some Practical Ideas

Since building relationships is so important to the effectiveness of the discipling process, here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Learn their names.

2. Send out brief and encouraging correspondence.

3. Go out with them after your weekly meeting for a snack.

4. Have them come to your place.

5. Play a sport with them. (basketball, tennis, racquetball)

6. Follow through on those birthday invitations.

7. Go to some of their school activities. (debates, concerts, etc.)

8. Have lunch with your young people and their friends at school.

9. Pick them up and take them for a snack after school.

10. Attend music recitals.

11. Serve them in various ways.

12. Get to know the life of the schools in the area.

13. Take them along on errands. (driving time facilitates talk)

14. Help them with their homework.

15. Have a girls’ slumber party or a guys’ overnighter.

Modeling the Principles of Leadership

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ motto is: “If you’re going to talk the talk, then you have to walk the walk.” As youth leaders, that needs to be our motto, too. Wait a minute! This is supposed to tell me how to disciple others. Sounds like this is a course in overhauling the youth leader. Remember…discipleship starts with you.

We cannot forget that we have a responsibility to show youth how the Christian life works on a daily basis. If we are going to be a model of what youth are to follow in discipleship, then we must allow the Holy Spirit total control of our lives.

Let’s look at some character traits that ought to be specifically modeled for disciples. Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a good starting point.

Love – Romans 5:8 describes what love is really like. True love accepts people just as they are (While we were yet sinners). Then it offers itself to meet the needs of others (Christ died for us). This type of love must come from the depth of a person’s character. It is necessary for discipling teens.

Joy – Joy becomes the expression of celebration which empowers us to be Christian. Joy makes us strong, produces energy and cannot be self-created. The only source of joy is obedience. Those who have a daily personal relationship with Jesus will be able to exhibit this quality of life.

Peace – Peace is not merely the absence of conflict. It is the calm assurance that God is in control no matter what comes our way as Christians. This quality of life is shown when we face life realistically instead of trying to escape.

Patience – The best description of patience is a “godly putting up with.” This is not an easy trait to have. Teens have the ability to help you develop this trait. They can sure give you a lot to put up with!

Kindness – The idea of this trait is a goodness which is kind. The yoke of Christ does not chafe us. It fits just right. It is easy! We have the opportunity to be yoked with another to help make their way easier, just as Christ is yoked with us.

Goodness – Goodness is a balance word. While kindness is gentle and sweet, goodness is a strong word that demands accountability. As demonstrators of the character of Christ, we must have balance in our lives – kindness as well as strong goodness.

Faithfulness – In this context faithfulness denotes the quality of trustworthiness or fidelity. The word refers to reliability, How often we as discipliners desire that our students be reliable when we, ourselves, are not always reliable. This is a convicting word.

Gentleness – This word suggests gentle strength. The gentle person is the person who knows his or her strength, but submits that strength to Christ in a ministry of love and caring for others. The person who is gentle is also teachable. We are not only to be teachers in our discipling but continual learners also,

Self-control – This describes the inner strength by which a man takes hold of himself. It is this quality that keeps him from being swept along by wrong desires or impulses. Without this characteristic all of our teaching will be of little value. Allowing God to be in charge of our lives is what is meant by this quality.

Practical Application – We cannot have these qualities in our life without a vital, vibrant, living relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not an option to have an ongoing relationship with our Lord. It is an absolute necessity!

Possessing all these traits is important, but how they “flesh themselves out” is equally important. Being a model for youth requires that they have the chance to observe in us some consistency in the way we live out our own lives.

Paul summed it up for us in Philippians 4:9 when he said, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (NIV)

Here are some areas that we can model our faith to our kids, our disciples:

1. Personal prayer life: keeping open lines of communication with God.

2. Faithful worship: attending church and giving praise to Jesus.

3. Fellowship: with other adults to keep ourselves from burn out.

4. Bible study: feeding ourselves and not just “getting a message”.

5. Sharing our faith: with strangers because we genuinely care.

6. Family life: treat spouse with respect, be the best parent we can.

7. Quality of life: making His kingdom a priority over money and time.

8. Temperament: keep ours seasoned with positiveness & Christlikeness.

Don’t Be Overwhelmed

Caution must be exercised! We are not mass producing junior clones of ourselves. The whole weight of our kids’ success does not fall on our shoulders alone. We are simply exercising an influence that encourages young people to discover and fulfill the unique destiny God has appointed for them. The Holy Spirit is working through us and in them to cultivate the spiritual fruit He desires. Discipleship is a lifetime journey!

Section Two – Communicating the Knowledge

This section deals with the educational process of learning the teachings of Jesus. We need to keep in mind that there are several approaches that we can use. Don’t spend all your time simply dispensing information to the minds of fifteen year olds in hope of discipling them. Simply knowing the right thing to do does not ensure that it will be done. Use various ways to instill His teachings. Be creative in the educational process.

a. Content transmittal

b. Problem solving

c. Trial and error

d. Team work

e. Special projects

f. Case studies

While we do have a set of doctrinal truths to be transmitted to every new generation, this was never intended to be the primary method of discipling.

Basic Christian Disciplines

A. Bible Study & Scripture Memorization: Getting into the Word is one of the most important disciplines for being a follower of Christ. Jesus used it to resist temptation by turning to the scripture that He had committed to memory. Youth need the teaching, reproof, correction and the training that can be gathered from the scriptures.

B. Prayer: Surely the disciples noticed the high priority that Jesus placed on prayer. He went into the mountain to pray, He went out in a boat to escape the crowd to pray, He regularly went to the garden to talk to His Father. Youth need to learn not only the “ask anything” of prayer but also the “abide in me and I in you”. Consistent prayer will help us in our horizontal relationships with others as well as in our vertical relationship with our heavenly Father.

C. Sharing Faith: Jesus was daily meeting the needs of people and genuinely caring about them. This gave him many opportunities to share the good news of the kingdom of God. Youth need to develop that same care and compassion for people. As they do, doors for sharing their faith will open.

D. Fellowship: This may sound strange to be included with the basic Christian disciplines. We need to stress to our youth the importance of the church. The church is one of the best places to find Christian fellowship. I’m not talking about pizza, cokes or hot dogs. Lifting others up and the ministry of encouragement should be a priority during our gathering together at the house of God. Our church is an important place to fellowship with God, His Word, and His Body of believers.

Main Objectives for Discipleship

1. Develop good quality materials to instruct the youth.

2. Put youth into a relationship with a trained and growing leader. This helps youth by giving them a living example to follow.

3. Use discipleship material and leaders as means of helping youth become grounded in their personal Christian disciplines.

Two Keys for Discipleship

* The Material Itself Is Not the Top Priority *

If our material becomes the key focus, then our kids pick up the idea that they are going through a prescribed number of lessons. If the material becomes the priority, then your discipleship runs the risk of becoming just another program. It is supposed to be a lifelong journey!

* Help Your Youth Become Grounded In the Basic Disciplines *

Combine the materials with growing leaders to help establish youth in the necessary Christian habits. You can not keep them in discipleship groups forever. They may lose their materials or just cast them aside eventually. As they grow up you may lose contact with them. But if you can help them become disciplined in a few key areas, they will have the tools and the means to remain lifelong disciples.

More Areas of Growth

Here are some other areas that you could use in teaching a continuing discipleship training program.

* Acquire an appetite to go deeper in their relationship to Christ.

* Integrate Scriptural views and precepts into their lives.

* Rely on Jesus in all circumstances as a close and personal friend.

* Sense the complete reality of forgiveness.

* Clarify misunderstandings about doctrinal and moral issues.

* Be “real” with their Christian brothers and sisters.

* To work out conflicts with family members.

* To reach out to their non-Christian friends.

* To affirm their own worth, dignity, and beauty in Christ.

Targeting Your Discipleship Programs

Who should we disciple? One philosophy is that we should only work with a chosen few. Train the ones that are willing to show up to the in-depth study group. The most serious problem with that philosophy is its narrow scope. While it is true that everyone will not become a productive disciple, are you willing to accept responsibility for deciding who will?

Youth are at various levels of commitment:

a. Committed to the group, but not to salvation

b. Saved, but on the fringe of involvement

c. Involved in all activities but discipleship group

d. “Totally committed teen” (which are few and far between)

The overall goal is to have discipleship training for youth at every level of commitment. This definitely is a long-rang goal! Here are some steps to reach that goal:

1. Develop some materials for training your teens.

2. Start with a small proto-type group and a short-term timetable. (six – eight weeks)

3. Begin basic training for those who are at a high level commitment.

4. Use some of those from the high level group as leaders for expanding your program to other levels of commitment.

Summary of an Effective Ministry

* It is never accomplished by just one person. Train a team to help!

* It never happens fast. Concentrate on depth. It just takes time!

* It won’t all happen at the church. It takes real life settings!

* It won’t be effective without prayer. Bathe your ministry in prayer!

* It must be people oriented, not program oriented. Focus on the need!

The Ideal Discipleship Program

There is no such animal in existence!! Whenever we think we have it all put together, God will allow someone or something to help us discover we don’t. Do not be afraid to go to the bookstore and pick up some materials on discipleship. Use what you can, trash what you can’t. Just remember….The ideal discipleship program does not exist!

Final Thought… Don’t Make Excuses!

It is easy to excuse getting serious about your youth discipleship program. But one rarely hears a good one. You may say, ” If only I had staff, more money, better buildings, more youth, more mature youth, more education or training, or more committed parents”. None of these are really good reasons for not being serious about youth discipleship. All you need to do is…
Get on your knees and get started!

PS. With God’s help you can overcome any obstacle!

Excerpted from “1988 Youth workers’ Seminar Notebook”. By Greg Bixby.

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Teenagers’ Top Needs

Teenagers’ Top Needs
Rick Lawrence

In our March/April issue we covered one half of the results from our massive survey targeted at Christian teenagers’ top priorities and needs. Now we explore how more than 20,000 Christian kids attending one of our summer work camps (groupworkcamps.com) answered when we asked them, simply, to rank a list of 20 possible “dying needs.” Their answers are predictable and surprising and challenging—and worth a close look by you and your leadership team.

In addition, I’ve gathered insights and reactions about the survey results from veteran youth pastors around the country—they all serve on our Inside Track Team for the Simply Youth Ministry Conference (youthministry.com/conference) —about 250 people from every denomination and geographic area of the U.S. Just as I did with the “top priorities” half of this survey, I’ve highlighted comments that are particularly insightful, along with responses that are representative of what many others said about the survey results.

If you have something to add to the conversation, send your thoughts to me at rlawrence@group.com. And if you know youth ministry friends who don’t subscribe to GROUP who would benefit from the results of this survey, send them a link to check out this article (and get a great deal on subscribing).

Teenagers’ Top Needs

We asked Christian teenagers to scan a list of 20 “needs” in their life, then rank them from one to seven according to how strongly they’d like that need to be met. The lower the number, the higher the desire for the need to be met. We wanted them to differentiate between “dying” needs and “nice to have but not that important” needs. Here’s how the numbers added up….

Top Needs (Description) Teenagers (Average)

1. I need help building a positive relationship with God 2.66

2. I need help building a positive relationship with my parents 3.47

3. I need help managing or dealing with the stresses in my life 3.65

4. I need someone to help me answer some of my big doubts
about the Christian faith 3.79

5. I need help understanding the Christian faith better 3.82

6. I need help in knowing how to share my faith with friends and others 3.88

7. I need help with my academics 3.92

8. I need help figuring out my future choices (college, job, career, marriage, etc) 4.00

9. I need help dealing with depression 4.01

10. I need help with my overwhelming commitments 4.06

11. I need help dealing with the pain I feel in life 4.09

12. I need help developing more and better friendships 4.15

13. I need help ending my dependence on drugs or alcohol or tobacco 4.20

14. I need help with making better moral choices in my life 4.22

15. I need help in receiving forgiveness for things I’ve done 4.40

16. I need help with living a healthier lifestyle—eating better and exercising 4.44

17. I need help with time management and discipline in my life 4.51

18. I need help resolving conflicts 4.83

19. I need help sorting out sexual issues (sexual activity, gender issues, homosexuality, etc.) 4.91

20. I need help with girlfriend/boyfriend issues 5.18

In general, the way kids ranked these needs primes the pump for cynicism among youth workers who see a big disconnect between the “God stuff” teenagers elevated to the top of the list and the topical stuff that settled out on the bottom. Typical is this assessment of the survey by Andrea Vincent of Michigan, who’s a volunteer youth worker by night and an assistant research professor by day:

“I’m not sure I believe the results. I think teenagers are simply comfortable thinking that others could help them with their faith issues. They want help with things they can talk about without embarrassment. Ironically, the items lower on this list are the ones where many adults fall down. At worst, they don’t want to be told what to do by hypocrites. At best, they already know what to do about these things (conflicts, sexual issues, time management).”

Whenever a survey result conflicts with our perception of reality, it creates a dissonance we have to resolve. One of the easiest ways to do that is to discount or explain away the results as flawed, skewed, or unrepresentative. And I’m sure these results are tainted by all of that—but it would be a mistake to keep what 20,000 Christian kids are trying to say at a cynical distance.

How would it challenge your assumptions, and your priorities, if you assumed these results are a perfect mirror of what kids know they really need?

Getting Tight With God

“I am thoroughly encouraged that these teenagers recognizes that they need more help in understanding their relationship with God. I will also probably use these stats to help the parents in my ministry understand why I choose the Bible Study formats I choose. I’m currently trying to get a student Bible Study going based on the major issues of theology—most of the parents I’ve approached about assisting me are concerned that the issues would be ‘too boring’ for teenagers. Instead, they think I should discuss issues like dating, financial literacy, and dealing with peer pressure.” —Brooke Oehme, Iowa

“Kid’s today need help discerning their faith…period. Though most youth ministries touch on the top four in this survey, they’re more likely to focus on the bottom-feeder topics such as peer pressure, drug and alcohol, boy/girl relationships, conflict resolution, yada, yada, yada. Should we talk about these topics? Sure. But they shouldn’t be the backbone of our ministry.” —Melissa Rau, Pennsylvania

Soldering the Parent Connection

“This survey demonstrates the importance teenagers place on the relationship they have with their parents….

1. Maybe our youth ministries need to recognize the importance of parents, and start equipping teenagers with a faith that is lived out in the home first.

2. Maybe we need to have a greater focus on helping teenagers apply their faith in their families before their schools.

3. Maybe we need to reevaluate our programs with the understanding that parents are the most important thing in adolescents’ lives, after God—not us.

4. Maybe students aren’t participating in our programs because they really are spending time with their parents.”

—Tony Clyde, Arkansas

“As much as teenagers say they’re embarrassed by their parents or that they don’t want them around, my experience has taught me that the opposite is true. Teenagers need space, without a doubt, but they still want and need their parents to be an integral part of their life—especially when it comes to matters of faith. How powerful would it be to have parents talking with their teenagers about their own faith journey—the struggles and questions they have, and the way they deal with them? And youth workers are in the unique position to facilitate those very conversations!” —Heather Cox, Virginia

Navigating the Sea of Stress

“Number three is a huge one with teenagers. As I meet with students to counsel them, I sense an overwhelming burden to be successful and to be busy doing 100 different things every day. I think we’ve corrupted our children by modeling a busy-beaver lifestyle that is not healthy or godly—whatever happened to being still?” —Jana Snyder, Pennsylvania

“What’s the real source of teenagers’ stress? Relational tension? Parent issues? Schoolwork? Sports? Work? Many of our teenagers have WAY too much on their plate. This is a huge concern for me. They want more of God, they want good relationships with their parents, but they need help with their stress levels if they’re going to grow in either of those areas. If we can help them balance their lives it opens the door for a healthier relationships with God and their parents. When we’re stressed we don’t function at our best. But this over-busy lifestyle is modeled for them at home.” —Mike Hammer, Pennsylvania

Understanding the Basics Better

“This survey underlines something I have seen more and more of in my part-time job as professor of world religions at our local community college. Each year I have students in my class share their own ‘history of belief’ (what religious influences have been evident in their life). And each year I basically hear the same responses: ‘My parents took me to (blank) church, but after I was baptized/took first communion I didn’t see any point in going. I didn’t agree with their beliefs, so I no longer belong to any church.’ “Many of my students also adhere to the popular ‘I’m spiritual but not religious’ or ‘I believe in Good, not God’ mantras. From these survey results it’s obvious that, rather then helping our teenagers grow in faith, we’re encouraging religious Illiteracy. Even teenagers who’ve grown up in the church struggle to understand what ‘salvation’ means and have basically no understanding of what a ‘covenant’ is. They can recite John 3:16, but have no idea why an incarnated God who dies for humanity is important. For them, religion seems to be nothing more than dying traditionalism wrapped in confusion infused with a good dose of uselessness. “If we’re merely teaching a Christianity that offers a system for making you a good person, they have endless examples of non-Christians who meet that same criteria but get to sleep in on Sundays. They want more, but most of us seem ill-equipped to show them where they can find what they’re looking for.” —Brooke Oehme, Iowa

Helping Where It Hurts

“I’m unsurprised, but very sad, that ‘dealing with depression’ lands so high on the list, just above ‘dealing with pain.’ We know kids are hurting, but are we making any headway helping them to feel like we’re meeting their needs? It seems like most of us spend more time on the bottom issues—sex, morality, healthy living, friends, forgiveness—than on the critical issues of building a positive relationship with parents and dealing with depression and pain. How can we bring the pendulum into better balance?” —Beth Scriven, Michigan

What About Sex and Dating?

“I was very shocked to see sexual issues so far down on the list. I have led small groups of high school boys for over seven years now—this is an issue that that they wish to discuss more than the others.” —Nate Mills,

“Is ‘I need help with girlfriend/boyfriend issues’ last because they don’t want to be challenged in this area, or because students do not see this category as the root of many of the problems they face—depression, commitment, moral choices, drug use, and so on? Acceptance is so much of a bigger issue than we give time or credit to. I believe the movie To Save A Life gives us a real picture of our students’ struggle with acceptance, portraying it as the basis of many other problems. “Are our youth group and church relationships so superficial that they do not feel accepted? Are teens sexually promiscuous because this is the only way they truly feel accepted and loved? Have we not authentically shared the truth that there is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his brother? Are we not showing them the love of Christ?” —Shan Smith, Indiana

“I thought it quite strange that the youth wouldn’t rank their boyfriend/girlfriend relationships more highly. Perhaps this points to a trend of increasing secrecy when it comes to these issues and concerns.” —Aaron M. Schellhas, Illinois

“I’m completely shocked that sexual issues and girlfriend/boyfriend stuff came in dead last. WOW…. It’s either a major shift in teenage culture or these Christian kids are trying to give the “right answers” or they feel they have their dating lives all figured out and they don’t need any help. But based on the drama I see in their lives and the pain and the heartache they bring on themselves, it seems odd to me.” —Drew Cope, Pennsylvania

Why Some Youth Workers Stay Longer

By Tom Wanberg

I’ve been a longtime volunteer leader in my church’s junior high ministry. One of the great blessings of my involvement has been, simply, the longevity of our paid youth staffers. Over the years I’ve observed several reasons for our heath in this area.

1. Increased longevity is directly proportional to the longevity and happiness of the volunteer leaders. With healthy volunteer leaders, the paid staffer feels less isolated, panics less, and can maintain a normal family life.

2. When volunteers feel supported by the paid leaders they stay happy. When volunteer leaders feel loved, cared for, and supported, they stay—and they recruit more volunteers! To understand this critical point, watch how our marvelous paid staffers conduct a meeting with volunteers. They don’t focus too much on their prepared agenda, or even on the specifics of the kids. Invariably they want to know how the individual volunteer leaders are doing handling the normal curveballs that life throws at them. They not only listen to us, they cry and laugh with us. They are our pastors.

3. The bunker mentality. When you go to war (any typical retreat), all the leaders are physically, mentally, and spiritually attacked as they battle for the kids. At first blush this doesn’t seem like a great recruiting pitch for potential volunteers. But when you’re in a bunker with other leaders you can’t help but get closer to them. The closer the volunteers get to each other, the more they want to go on the next retreat. And when our paid staffers lead a retreat they’re not only keeping up with the kids, they’re bonding with the volunteer leaders. This is very healthy.

4. Raising up the next generation of volunteers. Our last junior high retreat was overflowing with high school volunteers. It was amazing to watch how the “old-timers” modeled to the newbie leaders the “tricks of the trade.” These high school kids had so much fun in middle school, and they remember how much fun their leaders were having, that they want to get in on all that retreat action. They know that God shows up in big ways on retreats.

5. A pastor’s pastor. While all of us volunteer leaders recognize that our Director of Pastoral Ministry, Bob Krulish, is awesome, we also realize his position is a bit unusual. His job is to pastor the pastoral staff. He has an uncanny ability to see burnout stalking our paid staffers, and actively works to counter the physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion that comes with ministry.

Tom is vice president of a real estate investing firm in Colorado, and a longtime volunteer leader in his church’s junior high ministry.

The article “Teenagers’ Top Needs” written by Rick Lawrence was excerpted from www.simplyyouth.com web site, July 2010.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

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Why Are Teens Leaving the Faith?

Why Are Teens Leaving the Faith?
Brian Housman

Growing up under the watchful eye of his parents, Eric loved going to church. Like most kids, he loved the songs, his teachers, and playing with his friends. But even for a kid, church wasn’t just a social thing for Eric. He could clearly remember the summer of third grade during Vacation Bible School when he gave his whole heart to Jesus. He was baptized shortly after.
For Eric, Jesus and the Bible weren’t things you had to figure out or question. He had a child-like faith. He knew Jesus loved him and would walk with him throughout his life. The Bible was the moral compass by which he would live his life.

A few years later as Eric hit adolescence, his parents thought he would continue to grow in the faith of his childhood. He would discover even more deeply just how Jesus could make a difference to him in his high school years. He would see how his faith would define him. But that’s not what happened.

No fairy-tale ending

In the car on the way home from church one Sunday, Eric blurted out, “Why do we think we are right and everybody else is wrong about how to get to Heaven?” Over the coming weeks his questions turned to, “Is it fair that God would send everyone else to hell just because they don’t know Jesus?” and “How do we know the Bible is real?” Pretty soon Eric didn’t want to talk much on the way home from church and seemed agitated whenever anyone else would bring up faith in daily conversation.

It all came to a head when his parents asked him about his plans for the youth group’s summer camp. Eric nonchalantly announced, “Mom, Dad, I think that stuff like church and Jesus is fine for you, but I’m just not sure if I believe all that anymore.”

Discovery of self in Christ

Adolescence is the phase of life in which everything seems up for grabs. Teens discover new friendships, try out new interests, and develop new beliefs about everything from family to faith. For most, it’s perfectly natural to gravitate toward a new passion one day but then drop a lifelong interest almost overnight.

A teen’s faith is a big part in the puzzle of discovering his or her newly developing identity. Many parents struggle watching the forward-backward see-saw development of a teen’s faith. For many teens, this journey of identity will result in a deeper faith. Except when it doesn’t.

Why kids leave

Several studies have been conducted to answer that important question-why are they leaving? The results can be found in book such as “Sticky Faith,” “Soul Searching,” “Generation X-Christian,” and “Almost Christian.” All of them conclude that there is no one answer for a teen’s exodus from the faith community. At the same time, the books cite similar reasons why some young adults walk away.

1. Shallow belief system

In her book “Almost Christian,” Kenda Creasy Dean explains that many times, the Church offers nothing more than a “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” In short, we’ve taught teens that there is a disinterested divine power who wants to give them personal peace and prosperity and to help teens “be nice.” The result is a faith that cannot withstand the scrutiny of trials or intellectual questions. Parents and mentors have given teens an anemic sketch of faith at best. A robust faith is replaced by a code of conduct-we “do” these things (read our Bibles, pray, and go to church) and “don’t” do those (watch wrong movies, cuss, drink or have sex). Conduct replaces relationship with Christ.

2. No room for doubt

Those who leave the faith sometimes do so because they had questions and the church didn’t help answer them. In some cases, their questions were ignored. In others, doubt was considered a sin to be squelched quickly. Their questions varied from “Why do bad things happen to good people?” (intellectual doubt) to “If God cared about me, then I wouldn’t feel so (depressed, sad, lonely, etc.)” (emotional doubt) to “Why do Christians not believe in evolution?” “Why does the Bible contradict itself?” to “Why didn’t God answer my prayer for my parents not to divorce?” (experiential doubt). These are the types of questions the intellectual doubter needs to answer. Unfortunately, many times they either get poor answers from Christians or bad answers (which can sound convincing) from outside the Christian faith.

3. Exclusive faith

Scripture makes no apologies for the centrality of Christ. Those who turn to Christ in faith are saved. Those who do not are condemned to hell. In a culture that lauds tolerance, acceptance, and open-mindedness, claiming Christ as the only Way (John 14:6) is a hard truth to swallow. Unfortunately, many well-meaning believers twist this truth into a club to verbally (and physically) bash those with viewpoints different than theirs. Unfortunately, Christianity is often equated with bigotry, racism, homophobia, and sexism. Today’s generation wants nothing to do with that brand of faith.

4. No answers for opposition

Today’s teens are bombarded with philosophical and scientific oppositions to Christian beliefs. In science class, the teacher rails against anyone who believes in creation; the philosophy professor tells a freshman class to “prove the existence of God.” Most Christians are completely unprepared to provide logical, coherent, well-examined reasons for their belief in Christianity. When faced with opposition, these teens find that the answer is simple: you can’t be a Christian and an intellectual. Faith and science are incompatible.

Giving them room to wrestle

When my kids were little, they experienced their first act of independence as they learned to clothe themselves. Later, they learned how to wash those clothes, put those clothes away, and buy clothes with their own money. One of the big lessons my 14-year-old son has learned is if you want clean clothes tomorrow, then you better wash the dirty ones today. To learn this, his mom stopped washing his clothes for him even if it meant he had to wear dirty clothes one day.

The same is true for their faith. It’s not comfortable or fun to hear my kids question things that I am firmly convinced are true. But they are in good company. Moses did it, Job did it, and Thomas did it. God was not intimidated by Moses’ feelings, Job’s questions, or Thomas’ doubts. After their season of searching, each of them was brought to a new and deeper understanding of who God is.

The good news: faith that sticks

Recent research out of Fuller Theological Seminary examined the long-term faith of teenagers, and the results were compiled in the book “Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids” by Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark. In their study, they followed hundreds of committed Christ followers from high school all the way through college. They found that about 60 percent of students will walk away from their faith and many of them will not return. However, (this is the good news) others had what they termed a “sticky” faith. When they were faced with real life hardships, temptations, and questions, their faith remained as firm as ever.

The researchers were quick to point out that there is no “silver bullet” to developing such grounded children, but they did discover factors common in most of the students with sticky faith. And you have the opportunity to build into your own teen’s life these components.

1. Students with sticky faith are raised in a faith culture that emphasizes a relationship with Christ as opposed to an adherence to a set of rules.

Teens (and children) need to develop a clear understanding of the Gospel and biblical faith. What does it mean to be saved by grace? What does it mean for the Holy Spirit to live in and transform saved sinners? What does it mean to walk with God? As parents, we need to evaluate whether or not our focus is on training them to adhere to a set of behaviors (do’s and don’ts). We also need to examine our own lives for evidence of a growing relationship with Christ.

2. Students with sticky faith are surrounded by an intergenerational faith community.
The “Sticky Faith” research found that when teens were involved with other age groups (like teaching younger children in VBS), the more likely they were to keep their faith. On the other hand, teens who were segregated from “big church” (didn’t worship frequently with older adults) shelved their faith, and teens with few or little significant caring adults didn’t stick with their faith (no pun intended). This underlines the need for mentoring within the church. Encourage dialogue with other mature Christians. These key people could become a safe person for your teen to ask questions of that they may feel uncomfortable asking you.

3. The most important factor by far in each of the lives of teens who developed sticky faith is a parent who is willing to walk with them through their faith journey. This type of active parent doesn’t drop his teen off at the church and say “fix her” or “teach her.” She takes seriously the charge of being the primary spiritual developer of her child.

We as parents need to evaluate not only what we say with our mouths, but also with our actions. Who you are, not just what you say or do, shapes your teen’s faith. Actively discipling your teen also means having faith conversations on a regular basis. What does this look like? Create an atmosphere where questions are welcomed and dialogue (not lecture!) is a part of everyday life. Talk about the sermon on the way home. (What did you like? What did you disagree with?) Share times when you struggled with your own doubts. Make your home a place where your teen can explore all aspects of his faith (intellectual, emotional, relational) without being preached at, lectured to, or scared back into belief (you’re going to hell if you…).

Seasons of searching

Seasons of searching can be a time of unrest for your teen, but they don’t have to be a lonely or fearful experience. Eric’s parents may not have known how to handle his crisis of faith, but you can do it differently. If you are willing to walk with them along their faith journey, and are willing to surround them with a community of believers that love and encourage them, then doubts can lead to firm conviction and deeper faith.

*Eric is fictitious but his story mirrors that of many real life teenagers.

This article “Why Are Teens Leaving the Faith?” by Brian Housman was excerpted from: Living with Teenagers Magazine. www.lifeway.com web site. July 2012. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

Posted in AIS File Library, YMGE - Youth Ministry0 Comments

Teens & Sex: The Moral Purity Challenge

Teens & Sex: The Moral Purity Challenge
By Stephen Arterburn

Recently, Jim spoke at a large high school in central California on the subject of sex and dating. In a school poll taken before he spoke in favor of abstaining from sexual intercourse until marriage, the kids were asked to choose one of the following:
1. I will choose to have sexual intercourse before marriage.

2. I will choose to not have sexual intercourse before marriage.

3. I am undecided.

When school counselors tallied up the results, 68 Percent of the student body were undecided! After Jim’s presentation, only 24 percent were undecided. The vast majority chose abstinence. They made a commitment to wait until marriage. Many kids don’t take the “sexual-purity challenge” simply because it’s not offered to them. Let’s look at what one husband and wife are doing in this area.

The Sexual-Purity Challenge

As busy parents, John and Carolyn do a marvelous job when it comes to helping their three beautiful daughters deal with one of the most dominant issues of life: SEX. Along with several thousand other concerned parents, John and Carolyn are offering the “sexual-purity challenge.”

Between the ages of 10 and 13, each daughter has accompanied her parents on a special weekend outing. Each one picked the place to stay (within financial reason) and whatever fun experience she wanted. Tawnie chose a play in Los Angeles. Stephanie wanted to hang out at the beach. The youngest, Amber, chose a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game. How’s that for diversity

During each special outing, John, Carolyn, and one of the girls played hard and ate fun food. The theme of each weekend was the sexual-purity challenge. They talked a lot about the birds and the bees. They listened to a tape together and read a chapter from Jim’s book Radical Respect. Each daughter was different. The two more outgoing girls talked and talked, asking questions that made John and Carolyn blush a little. The quietest child listened, took it all in, had a great time, but didn’t say much.

On Sunday, before they returned home, John and Carolyn asked each daughter, “Are you willing to say to God, ‘I commit my sexuality to you and will refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage’ ?“ Each girl said yes without pressure, and the parents gave each daughter a little necklace as a reminder of taking the sexual-purity challenge.

Let’s be honest. Will every kid who made a decision at school or with parents to remain abstinent until marriage actually do so? No. Depending on which poll you look at, at least 50 percent of the teenagers in the United States have already had sexual intercourse by age 18. But “everybody” isn’t doing it. We parents need to help our kids make the right and wise decision to refrain, and our efforts will make an impact.

A couple who attended Jim’s youth group decided years later to get married. Jim had the privilege of doing their premarital counseling and performing the wedding. During the counseling, he always has a session on sex. Frankly, couples usually squirm a bit in that session. In today’s world, most people who enter a marital relationship after age 18 aren’t virgins —including Christians.

Derrick started the session by saying, “I know we are going to talk about sex today, and we wanted to tell you a story.” Immediately Jim got ready for a negative one. But to his surprise, it was quite positive. Derrick continued: When Jennifer was in tenth grade, she sat in a Sunday school class you were teaching, and you asked the group to make a commitment to remain sexually pure. She made that commitment and kept it. At camp a few years before that, you were giving your “sex talk” and asked us to wait until marriage. At that camp, I made a commitment to do just that. Just yesterday, Jennifer and I were talking about the fact that we are the only virgins we know and how even for us it hasn’t been easy. I asked her what kept her from “going all the way.” She told me her Sunday school story. I told her my camp story. We sit here today to tell you this stuff works!

Jim’s response? Not surprisingly, he got choked up. Jim speaks to more than one hundred thousand students a year about sex, and he still finds the latest statistics hard to believe.

• Twelve million teens are sexually active. Eight out of 10 males and seven out of 10 females report having had intercourse while teenagers.

• If present trends continue, 40 percent of today’s 14-year-old girls will be pregnant at least once before age 20.

• By age 20, 81 percent of today’s unmarried males and 67 percent of today’s unmarried females have had sexual intercourse.

• Fifty percent of all sexually active 19-year-old males had their first sexual experience between the ages of 11 and 13. Among nonvirgins, 50 percent of the boys and 18 percent of the girls first had intercourse at age 18 or younger.

• Seventy-four percent of teenagers say that they would live with someone before marriage or instead of getting married.

• More than 500,000 babies are born each year to unmarried American girls under age 18. Furthermore, about 80 percent of these teenage mothers are from low-income families.

• Teenage mothers cost taxpayers about $16 billion a year in welfare benefits alone. (The cost in dollars is only a minor aspect of what happens in the lives of pregnant teenagers and teenage married couples. The emotional and spiritual damage done to sexually promiscuous young people creates even greater damage.)

Contrary to what many kids learn today, there’s no such thing as “safe sex.” The safe-sex movement in our world has relegated sex to an action without taking into consideration the emotional, psychological, and spiritual issues. The sexual-revolution crisis is perceived quite differently today, depending on people’s perspectives. The popular, secular view is that the crisis is the “result” of promiscuity: AIDS, venereal disease, and unwanted pregnancies. However, the Christian perspective is concerned with the development of healthy morals and values—right and wrong—and deals with the issues of sin and obedience to God. The Christian view of sex takes into consideration a responsibility for one’s actions and people’s relationship with God.

Unfortunately, most young people receive their sex education from the media. As mentioned previously, the average high school student had the opportunity to watch 14,000 acts of intercourse or innuendo to intercourse on prime-time TV in 1991, and he or she will watch an average of 10 hours a week of MTV this year. Kids today are fooled into “instant intimacy” because of such blatantly promiscuous sex. Television, movies, and much of rock music glorify sex and fill kids’ senses with activities, images, and remarks about sexual activity while downplaying the responsibility that sexual activity requires.

However, even more unfortunate than the media’s treatment of sex is the fact that only about 10 percent of children today receive positive, Christian sex education. Did you? Probably not. Even with the outstanding material on sexuality available to families and churches today, it’s sad to say that we, as Christian parents, have done a poor job overall of helping our young people deal with this dominant issue. Sexuality isn’t an easy subject to discuss with our kids but it’s unfortunate that so many parents and churches have remained more or less silent.

Our silence is really hurting this generation of young people who desire to hear the truth. Many kids have learned myths rather than facts about sex and its powerful consequences. An entire generation of young people has been left to experiment and learn about sex on its own. The lack of positive moral standards and basic understanding about sex often leads young people to participate in premature sexual activity.

You Can Make a Difference

We believe that most parents really desire to talk with their kids about sex. Unfortunately, most parents didn’t receive positive, healthy sex education when they were growing up, so they have few or no role models to guide them in helping their children. If you’re one of the vast majority of parents who care deeply about their children and yet aren’t exactly sure what to say about sexuality or how to bring up the subject, don’t be alarmed. Here are a few suggestions:

Be Willing to Talk About Sexuality

Kids need adults — especially parents — who will talk openly and honestly about sexuality and will listen. By doing so, you may prevent your kids from having some very negative experiences. You will also be giving them the gift of a healthy attitude toward sexuality and encouraging them to use one of God’s most special gifts to us as He intended.

Parents always ask us, “What do we say to our children, and at what age?” To answer that question, we want to tell a joke.

One afternoon, seven-year-old Johnny came home from school, walked into the kitchen, and asked his mother, “Hey, Mom, what’s sex?” Her face tuned bright red, but not wanting to appear too shocked by the question she fumbled for the right words to say. Where my husband when I need him? She thought. This question was supposed to come about six years from now!

Composing herself, she asked Johnny to sit at the kitchen table, poured him a glass of milk, and placed a plate of cookies in front of him that he happily received. She then proceeded to explain every detail of the birds and the bees to Johnny for the next 45 minutes. Johnny didn’t say a word; he just ate those cookies! When she finished telling Johnny basically everything she knew about sex in explicit detail, Mom took a deep breath and said, “Well, Johnny, do you have any questions?”

He looked up, puzzled, and said, “Yeah, just one. How am I supposed to put all that on this soccer application where it says; Sex, M or F, please circle?”

Of course, Johnny’s mother misread his question, but her situation illustrates a key point. As parents, we need to discuss sex in a positive, healthy way with our kids. However, sex education must be age appropriate. Our secular media and even our public school system have given kids too much too soon. It’s like feeding a piece of steak to a baby who has no teeth. The baby chokes. But the opposite extreme is also dangerous. Some parents wait until it’s too late. Let’s quickly review a few more facts.

More than half of the high schoolers in the United States have had sex, according to a Centers for Disease Control survey. The following breakdown by grade reveals how high the percentages are;

• 9th grade —40 percent

• 10th grade —48 percent

• 11th grade —57 percent

• 12th grade—72 percent

When Jim speaks to junior high and high school students about sex, he encourages them to write out questions. Here’s a sample of the questions asked recently at a “Handling Your Hormones” youth event that more than 800 kids attended at Chuck Swindoll’s former church in Fullerton, California. (Most of the kids were Christians.)

• How far is too far?

• Is it possible to get the pill without your parents knowing?

• How often do married people usually have sexual intercourse?

• Is oral sex okay?

• How do girls masturbate?

• How do boys masturbate?

• At what age do boys have their first erection?

• When is a girl’s most dangerous time of the month? Is the pill expensive? Is the pill dangerous?

• What types of VD are there?

• I’m afraid of AIDS. What can I do to not get it?

• If you participate in oral sex, are you still a virgin?

• Will God condemn you if you have premarital sex? Will He forgive you?

• What can a guy do if he has a problem of lust toward other guys? How can you handle it without having to be gay?

• Does God forgive Christians who have had abortions?

• After someone has been sexually abused for years and hasn’t told anyone about it, how can someone try to forget and deal with it?

As you can see, kids aren’t just interested in the biological aspects of their sexuality. These types of questions are always asked. Interestingly, in recent years, kids are asking more and more questions about sexual abuse, homosexuality, pornography, oral sex, abortion, and birth control.

Teach Biblical Sexuality
We believe that today’s generation of kids actually desires morals and values. Growing up in a basically value-neutral society hasn’t given kids a healthy sexual foundation. A 17-year-old woman recently told Jim, “This is the first time in my life I’ve ever heard that God wants me to abstain from intercourse until marriage. Now that I think about it, it makes a lot of sense.”

It’s important for kids today to realize that the Bible speaks to important issues of the day. God created sex, and He views His creation as being very good. He wants the best for His children; that’s why He places limits on premarital sexual activity.

Here are six Scripture passages that directly speak to our children (and us parents) about sexuality. We took this from an excellent article in Discipleship Journal by John Nieder:

Genesis 1:27-28 and 2:18-25:

1. God created two distinct sexes.

2. God told the man and the woman to have children.

3. The man was created incomplete and in need of a helper.

4. No other creature could meet the man’s need.

5. God made a woman to meet the man’s need (and vice versa).

6. The man and the woman were supposed to join their lives and their bodies for life.

7. The sexual relationship was commanded before sin entered human experience.

Samuel 13.1-20:

1. Inappropriate sexual desire can lead to sin.

2. Wrong friends encourage wrong behavior.

3. Sexual sin often involves deception.

4. We should avoid potentially compromising situations.

Intense sexual desires can cause irrational actions.

When lust is fulfilled and desires diminish, the ensuing guilt may result in hatred. Once the immoral act has occurred, irreparable damage has been done.

Alienation, hatred, and even violence can result from sexual sin.

Proverbs 5:

1. Children should follow their parents’ wisdom.

2. We should watch out for and avoid sexual temptations and sensuous allurements.

3. Sexual sins have terrible consequences.

4. We should flee temptation.

5. Sexual immorality can lead to disease.

6. Sexual intercourse should occur only in marriage

7. Marital love is to be enjoyed.

8. God watches everything we do, including our sexual activity.
1 Corinthians 6:9-20:

1. Sexual sins can be forgiven.

2. Our bodies are devoted to God, not to sexual immorality.

3. Our bodies are important enough to be resurrected.

4. We should flee, not fight, temptation.

5. Sexual sin hurts us and can harm our bodies.

6. God owns us.

7. Jesus died to purchase us, so we should honor Him with our bodies.
1 Corinthians 7:1-9:

1. Unmarried people have a greater freedom to serve God.

2. Sex outside of marriage is always wrong.

3. The solution for passion is a marriage partner, not a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

4. God wants married couples to have free access to each others’ bodies.

5. Men and women, husbands and wives, have strong sexual desires.

6. A couple’s spiritual union should be more important than their physical union.

7. Free access to one’s spouse reduces sexual temptation.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8:

1. Living a pure life pleases God.

2. God’s will is that we avoid sexual immorality.

3. God wants us to learn how to control our bodies.

4. Our methods of controlling our desires must be holy and honorable.

5. The way we control our bodies will differ from the methods of unbelievers.

6. Gratifying our sexual desires outside of marriage offends and detracts from the other person.

7. We shouldn’t take advantage of another person in order to satisfy our sexual desires.

8. These standards come from God, not from man.

9. If we disobey these instructions, we reject God.

The Bible isn’t a sex manual, yet it’s very clear on certain sexual issues. Far too many kids today believe that God is the great killjoy when it comes to sex because they honestly don’t know what the Bible says about it. A whole group of kids today has heard only what appear to be negative verses or unreal expectations when biblical sexuality has been discussed.

As parents, we must present biblical sexuality positively. God created sex. In the confines of marriage, it is wonderful. He put sexual boundaries in the Bible because He loves us and wants the best for us. Far too many young people are moving into marriage with a great deal of sexual-related baggage from previous relationships. God knows how devastating that baggage can be.

Following are questions we ask young people who have been having sexual intercourse or who are close to compromising their virginity. We’re convinced that any couple contemplating premarital intercourse should look at and deal with these questions honestly.

1. Will premarital intercourse lessen the meaning of intercourse in marriage for either of you? (Notice that in all these questions, both people are included in the decision-making process.)

2. Does your conscience make you feel uneasy during or after sexual intercourse? Could this be the Holy Spirit challenging you?

3. Are you both equally committed to each other?

4. Are you totally convinced in your hearts that the other person is “the one” forever?

5. What do you believe the Bible has to say about premarital sexual intercourse? Here are a few verses to look at: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Corinthians 6:13, 18-20; Ephesians 5:3; and Acts 15:20.

7. Will having sexual intercourse before marriage damage in any way your relation ship with each other?

8. Could premarital intercourse damage your communication or result in either a loss of respect for or mistrust of each other?

9. Will premarital intercourse help, hinder, or not affect your spiritual relationship with each other?

10. Have you thought through the possibilities of parenthood and marriage because of pregnancy?

11. What are your motives for having sexual intercourse? Are they pure?

Find Positive, Healthy Resources to Share with Kids

There are many excellent resources available for kids and parents on this subject. Use the gifts and abilities of others to help your child receive appropriate sex education.

We know there’s hope. As parents, we can make a difference! Please don’t leave all the responsibility of sex education and prevention of pregnancy to people who care less about your kids than you do. Listen to the words of Alice, age 18:

6. You both seem to desire God’s best for you. Will having sexual intercourse affect your usefulness to God or your relationship with Him?

I really believe I’ll be a virgin on the day of my wedding. My parents were always open about sex with me. They challenged me to give my body to God. I’ve done that. It’s not always easy, but my commitment is strong, thanks to the input I received from my folks.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

Posted in AIS File Library, YMGE - Youth Ministry0 Comments

Tips for Using Teens in Church Volunteer Positions

Tips for Using Teens in Church Volunteer Positions
Kevin Mahaffy Jr.

I was recently asked to speak to several of our church departmental leaders (specifically usher and security teams) about how to deal better with teenagers. Here are five tips that I shared with them that I feel you might could use also:

1. There’s No Place We’d Rather They Be!

The fact that students are in our church should bring us great joy. Period! No matter if they’re here of their own free choice or because Mom or Dad made them come, we should be excited for the opportunity we have to show them Jesus. Bottom Line: See the fact that students are here as a privilege not a pain.

2. What Lies Beneath…

It should come as no surprise that for everyone that comes into our church—particularly teenagers—there is a whole lot more going on in their lives than meets the eye. Remember that how kids act is often a reflection of much deeper issues in their lives below the surface. Bottom Line: Don’t judge the book by the cover. Don’t assume or generalize. Each student has a unique story behind the story.

3. For Teens It’s All About Relationships!

Be proactive. Introduce yourself. Initiate conversations. Use more questions than statements. Ask students their names. Remember their names and say hi to them each week at church. Nothing is more powerful to anyone than being called by their own name. It communicates value. Use appropriate physical touch—shake their hand, give them a high five, or a pat on the back. Make them look forward to seeing you each week as a friendly face and a caring adult who represents Jesus to them. Ask them how their week was. Ask them to tell you something interesting about themselves. Ask them what they like to do. Ask them how you can pray for them. Security is about making people feel safe, right? Let students know that church is a safe place for them not only physically, but a safe place where they are loved and cared for. Bottom Line: Don’t wait for students to do something wrong before you engage with them. Build a relationship with them. You will save yourselves a lot of conflict if students know you’re not an ogre waiting for them to screw up so you can pounce on them, but a godly adult who truly cares for them.

4. Think Conversation not Confrontation.

Tying in with the above statement, if you have relationship with students, when there comes a time when they need a little correction you will have some relational capital to spend without depleting the account. Let’s be realistic … kids will get rowdy sometimes. They will be immature and goofy. (None of us ever were, of course!) During those times, approach them gently and conversationally, not in a militaristic fashion. A conversational approach might sound like, “Hey guys! I’m so glad you’re here today, and that you’re having fun. Could you just do me a little favor? It’s getting a little loud in the narthex. Would you mind just keeping it down a little or moving out to the foyer? Thanks guys! You’re awesome!” Kids will respect and respond to that so much better than, “Hey you kids gotta be quiet or I’m going to tell your parents!” More important than what we say (no matter how right it is) is how we say it. Bottom Line: Talk WITH students not AT students.

5. You Have Influence!

Remember that teenagers are in the most formidable years of their life. They are making decisions about God and church largely based on their real-life experiences. As adults and people in ministry within the church we need to humbly recognize that how we respond to kids when they misbehave will have a big impact on their perceptions. Remember that there is a difference between behavior and personhood. In addressing what they do (behavior) it is vital that we not crush who they are (personhood). We can win the short-term battle of compliance to our rules but totally miss the long-term goal of helping students become life-long, committed followers of Jesus. Our job is to point to and guide them toward the love and grace of Christ. When he gets ahold of their hearts and they discover their identity in Him, the behavioral stuff will follow. Bottom Line: Treat students with kindness, gentleness, and respect (even if you don’t get it in return!).

The article “Tips for Using Teens in Church Volunteer Positions” written by Kevin Mahaffy Jr. was excerpted from www.simplyyouth.com web site, June 2010.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

Posted in AIS File Library, YMGE - Youth Ministry0 Comments

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