Archives for: October 2017

There were 3 posts published in October 2017.

12 Great ideas for parents on how to connect with their teens and model faith

Studies show the most important factor for a teen to stay in the Christian faith is the example of the parent’s faith. But a more nuanced – and accurate – understanding is, it’s not so much what the parents believe, but what the teenagers perceive they believe.

Here are 12 great examples of parents connecting and modelling faith. Perhaps one or a variation of these may work in your setting?

1. The family meeting

After dinner on Tuesday, the Welborn family clears the dishes from the table and sits back down for their weekly family meeting. Tom and Marcia start the meeting to give their family a chance to share their perspectives on what’s going well – and not so well – in their household. It has become a time to review the week ahead, so everyone understands the logistics of sports etc.

Often the meeting will have a theme like, “How can we be more of a team?”, and sometimes topics get bounced around from dinner leftovers to who’s feeling left out?

Often, the kids will bring prayer requests. And even pray aloud. Their family meetings can be long, or just a few minutes. Sometimes they bring bible verses. Usually, the kids enjoy it; but if their attention wanes, they ask how their time can be improved.

But most importantly they set a culture where “we make sure the kids know they have a voice and can share their experience, so that they know their feelings matter.”

2. The Twelve-year-old Trip

As a youth leader, I would often tell families that a student who attends a weekend retreat experiences the relationship equivalent to attending youth group for about six months.

Many families are taking on this idea too. Whether this is booking a motel room for a night, or a sleepover in the living room, or camping in the backyard.

The Fitches take on this as a bit of a rite of passage. The Twelve-year-old trip.

When each of the kids turns twelve, they get a weekend away with the parent of the same gender. They fly, stay in a hotel, get introduced to journaling, do a service project and have some good fun.

3. Monthly Dates

Especially with big families, it is easy to not to connect personally with each kid individually often enough.

Gabe spends an hour with each of their kids on their monthly birthday dates. Eg, his eldest was born on the 8th May, so on the 8 of each month, he spends an hour one on one doing what they want, playing a board game, going on a hike etc.

Gabe says it’s only 3 hours out of his month, he has yet to miss one, and even if he wanted to, his kids wouldn’t let him.

4. How Can I pray for you?

Tammi wants her teenage boys to know that not only is she willing to spend time with them talking about God, but that she spends time every day talking to God about them. So she often asks her sons a simple question like:

How can I be praying for you?

She either writes down their answers or asks them to. Then, she keeps the sheets they have written in her prayer journal, but she makes copies to give back to her boys, so they have reminders of her specific prayers for them.

By asking this simple question, Tammi learns more about her boy’s struggle and dreams, and the boys learn more about their mum’s passion for prayer.

5. Loving online (LOL)

As parents, we can use technology to:

  • Let our kids know we are available for them at any time
  • Tell them we thinking of them
  • Remind them that we are praying for them, given what they are facing at school that day
  • Share a Bible verse
  • Send them pictures of things we are seeing or eating that reminds us of them.

6. High School Bible

Wanting to show their 16-year-old son how much they care about him, Pete and Kathy bought a bible for him. But they didn’t give it to him. They kept it for themselves for the next two years as their own devotional Bible. They prayed through it and made notes in it about passages that specifically related to their son.

Then they presented it to him when he turned 18.

Pete and Kathy did the same for their other three children, starting when they turned 16. For all four of their young adult children, that Bible (even when it sits unopened on a bedroom shelf) is a powerful symbol of their parents’ spiritual investment.

7. Weekly Coffee shop Meeting

Dave wanted to study a book about godliness with his seventeen-year-old son, but wanted the discussions to feel special and manly. So instead of talking at home, Dave and his son met at a coffee shop in the city before they both came home from school and work.

In talking through each chapter, father and son answer questions like: what stood out to you about this chapter? What questions do you have?

Dave’s son loves meeting his dad at a coffee shop and being treated like a peer (well, almost like a peer). Dave still buys both their drinks, which he feels is a small price to pay for the weekly chats with his son.

8. What adults do you like?

In a youth group setting, we will often say we want one leader for every 5 young people, allowing the leaders to invest time and effort in a small number of young people. As a parent you may want to switch that ratio: I want 5 adults for my child, who know them, care and pray for them, occasionally showing up to netball games etc. These people, who you have vetted as safe, can form a web of support for your child.

Susan, knowing she didn’t need to keep her 5:1 team a secret, periodically asks her teenage daughter, what adults do you like? Which of our relatives would you like to get to know better? She mentally files away her answer, so when the family has free time for lunch after church, or her daughter has a big netball game, she knows who to invite.

9. Dad’s Camping Trip

Glenn’s wife is more a hotel kind of woman rather than a camping kind of person. But since Glenn wanted to expose his kids to the fine art of camping, four years ago, he and three other dads took their kids.

Since then, it has grown year on year. This year, 7 dads and 22 kids, went camping, tramping, cooked over open fire, swam, shared practical jokes, and played cricket. Dads and kids cross-pollinated.

And in case you were wondering, none of the mums have yet to complain about the annual camping trip.

10. Wow, Pow, Holy Cow, How

Each night at the dinner table the Smith family discuss four topics related to their day:

  • Wow is the best part of the day
  • Pow is the worst part of the day
  • Holy Cow is something in their day that pointed them to God
  • How is an opportunity in their day to be the answer to someone else’s prayer

11. Bread and butter Dinner

In New Zealand, “40% of households go hungry, skip meals or scrimp on ingredients because they are not ‘food secure’” (, Healthy eating hard for poor.)

Bryan and Shelly wanted to give their kids a taste of what it’s like to scrimp on food.

Together with their 12 and 10-year-old, they came up with the idea of “bread and butter Sunday dinner.”

Each Sunday, they eat slices of bread with margarine rather than their usual meal. Sometimes they add the luxury of jam, but they always donate the money saved from a more elaborate Sunday dinner to a local homeless ministry.



Many of these ideas came from Sticky Faith Guide for your family

Urgent Prayer Request – Canterbury

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST | Can we ask you to join together to pray for the wellbeing of our young people in Canterbury?

(Letter from Mike Dodge, our regional youth enabler in Christchurch)

All of us who are working with young people are very concerned at the alarming increase of suicides across the region this month. In my 36 years of youth work I have never seen anything like this before. We strongly feel the need to call “the whole church” to prayer together over this (PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens)

Can you as a church pray this Sunday (and the following weeks) – as we stand together with all the churches of Canterbury – praying for breakthrough in this area of mental health. We would love you to ask and encourage your congregation to pray over the week, in their personal prayer times and small group gatherings.

Over the last year at least 6 different prayer gatherings have all had a similar picture of a black cloud/heavy fog/pollution/smog and darkness covering the Canterbury region.
We’re asking that you would pray against this dark cloud of anxiety, depression, despair, self-harm and suicide – especially among the young people of our region. Pray for hope instead of hopelessness, light instead of darkness, love, power and a sound mind instead of fear so that we would see a change in the mental health and wellbeing of our young people.

We are in need of a miracle and I love that as the body of Christ we get to stand together, pray together and see what the Lord does in response. He is the only one who can bring light and change to these situations.

How to plan your youth ministry teaching for the year

Download the Cards             Stepping Stones Website

Video Script

In this video we are going to look at planning the curriculum you are teaching for the year in your youth group. And we are going to see how the Stepping Stones website can help with this.

So firstly we would pull together a planning group, your key leaders, perhaps your minister, elder for youth, or similar, maybe even the key children’s leader?.

Before we look at any curriculum, or the Stepping Stones website, we are going use a tool from Grow Ministry which works really well with Stepping Stones to help us put the right curriculums in the right place.

So what we have up on the board is the months of the year, and also the four school term dates.
Next we are going to put up the events we do every year no matter what. In this example, that is Easter Camp, Church camp and White Sunday.
Now we are going to think about about Stepping Stones.

On the stepping Stones website, it talks about discipling your young people in a well-rounded, holistic way through 4 key areas

Belief – and doctrine
Practices – to grow in relationship with God
Justice – to help transform society
Life – to keep our actions consistent with our faith

On the website, you are just encouraged to touch on all these areas (or Stepping Stones) to ensure you are not teaching on pet topics continually. You could be quite casual about this, or formal. Eg, the first week of the month is Belief, the second is Practices and so on.

In this tool, we are going to say, we are going to do a different “stepping Stone” in each term.
So we will put up the four Stepping Stones below each term, and now I’m going to put a card, under each Stone, where we will write the curriculums we will do.
So now looking at the chart we have terms, the Stepping Stones, the curriculum for the term, and below any events we choose to do. It may well be a good strategy to have one event a term.
Now I have just put the “Stepping Stones up in a random order, but we may now want to discuss is there a preference of order? Perhaps, you think they just work well in a particular order, but I would I also say also, it is good if the events are similar the teaching.
For example, I’m going to choose to Justice in Term 2, because we could do the 40 hour famine, and also encourage our young people to wear pink on Pink Shirt Day, the anti bullying campaign day.
im now going to put Practices in the term we are doing singing practice for White Sunday, Belief in term 1 when we have easter camp, and we do topics in term 4.
For you, this may look quite different, your church may offer a confirmation/baptism class each year in term 4, so you want to do Belief in term 3, and then at the end term challenge the young people to sign up for the class in term 4.
This is now the time we would look at the curriculums that match the Stepping Stone topics. You as the key leader should probably prepare before the meeting by looking through the Stepping Stones website, and have good suggestions that you can bring.
For me in this example, we have looked at the website, and we have decided this year
For the Belief Section to run some sessions from the Bible Project, great videos and free.
For the Justice Section, we are going to do the free L is for Life curriculum from Tearfund and also do a couple of sessions from the 40 Hour Famine resource from Fuller Youth Institute (again free)
For the Practices we are going to do the Alpha Prayer course, we have heard great reviews and it is also free.
And finally for the Life section we going to spend some money and splash out $20 on the High School Topics Talksheets from the Book Depository (free shipping)
You may now want to add a couple more events into your calendar, perhaps a welcoming event, or a Christmas Party.
This is where are going to stop in this video, but in your meeting you may want to add in a row for parent events, and a row for youth leaders events, put up Connect and leaders meetings etc.
This is a great tool to play around with ideas with your leaders. Making sure things flow well and dont clash with other events.
After this meeting the next stage of course will be splitting it down to what you are doing for each week. But you have got the big picture planning done, and you wont spend time each week stressing what you are going to teach at youth group.

I hope this, or a variation of this will help you in your planning.