Tag Archive: parents

After having been involved in youth ministry for a decade now I have come to observe that as far as faith in God is concerned there are two critical moments a teenager’s life: the moment they enter the teen years and the moment they exit the teen years. Statistics have backed this up saying that an individual is most receptive to faith in Christ as they enter the teen years (I shared these statistics in MISSING PEOPLE: Where have all the Jr. High boys gone?). Statistics also say that an individual is most vulnerable for walking away from their faith as they exit the teen years more than any other time in their life. My personal observations over the years have found this to be true.

David Sawler is an author and church planter in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia who wrote a very timely book about this trend of students simultaneously exiting their teen years and shedding their faith. The book is called “Goodbye Generation” and deals with the reasons why this statistics are the way that they are. Among the many great reasons stated in the book here are three that struck me most:

1. Teens today do not understand their Bible.

Teens today can likely recount the stories of Noah, Moses, Jesus…and so on. However, they view them as simply stories. Rare have the times been when teenagers have been shown how Noah and Moses were more than just individuals living interesting lives. Unfortunately teenagers have little understanding of the themes and messages in the Bible as a whole (scholars may call this ‘literary unity’). Instead most teens emerge into young adulthood with a smattering of stories but no real overarching view of how God has been progressively working in humanity from the beginning.

2. There has been a lack of spiritual parenting within the church.

Who were your spiritual parents? Were they your biological parents? Were they family members of relatives? Were they friends? Who shaped you during your formative years in the faith? Tragically teenagers are given their own pastor, their own room, their own program, their own band, their own life…and passing the faith from generation to generation does not happen as it could.

3. There has been a lack of family emphasis in youth ministry.

Families shape people, not ministries. Parents shape people most, not pastors. Quality youth ministries must engage parents and families as a whole. I must admit that I am not sure how this paradigm will work within many churches; youth pastors tend to be 19-22 years old when they begin…and what 40+ year old would seek parenting advice from them? I can’t say I blame them. As I approach 30 and now have a family of my own I feel like I am just beginning to be able to speak to this aspect of youth ministry. Prior to now I have largely left it untapped. Nevertheless, it remains an important theme of successful youth ministries.

There is much great food for thought in this book; I would recommend it to both parents and teenagers alike. David’s second book on this topic, Before They Say Goodbye, has just been released this year and appears to be as promising as his first!


Good morning folks! Its been a while since I posted but I am sneaking a quick one in this morning before we all get up and get ready for church. Its been almost two days since we have arrived in Halifax for our vacation and it is nice to be ‘home’ for a visit. People always ask what is different about the Maritimes versus Ontario and sometimes I am at a loss because there are so many similarities; however, the first day that we were here two things emerged loud and clear. Here they are.

When traveling through New Brunswick, Benjamin all of a sudden got very quiet and sad in the back seat. We thought that perhaps he was carsick because he looked like he might barf at any moment. So, we pulled off in Sackville, New Brunswick to get him a milkshake from McD’s to help his stomach. I wanted to make these stops as quick as possible so that we did not loose time and so when waiting to make a left turn into McD’s I was annoyed that the oncoming traffic stopped right in front of me. I said to Mandy, “What are these people doing? Just GO so I get into McD’s!”. Then it dawned on me…even though this long line of oncoming traffic clearly had the right of way, they were stopping to let me turn left. That is something I haven’t experienced in a while:)

Neither have I had to stop at crosswalks to allow people to cross in a while; I feel bad for the poor guy on the Armdale Rotary yesterday whom I came to a screeching halt for.

Aside from traffic, I have one additional story. The first night we were here I had to run down to the new Canadian Tire in Tantallon to pick up some child proof doorknob covers so that Ben did not escape from his room in the night and turn Nana and Papa’s house upside down. While I was waiting in line at the cash the two young cashiers were chatting about their upcoming graduation from SJA High School and their fall plans to attend…….Dalhousie Universtiy of course:) And the story gets better…one was commenting that although her average was 92% she still only got a few thousand in scholarships. The other replied saying that a 92% average gets you nothing at Dal because (and I quote), “…all the geniuses go to Dal.” She was implying that all the geniuses at Dal take all the scholarship money away from otherwise great students. I was suddenly quite proud of the Dal grad ring on my right hand and thought about paying with my right hand (as opposed to my left, because I am left handed) just to show off my ring and association with Dalhousie!

I write all of this especially to those from back home in Essex who are graduating from High School this year and will be moving on to other aspirations in life. First, my apologies that none of you (to my knowledge) are going to Dalhousie…that is truly a shame. But then again Ontario has many quality institutions that rank close to  Dalhouise in the annual McLeans ranking.

On a serious note, as you leave Essex High and go off to university, college or the workplace, remember always where you came from. Remember always where you grew up, your family, and your friends. Never get to the place where you think more highly of your accomplishments in life than you ought to and never think that they make you better than those you left behind at home. Everyone has great potential to do great things with their life. It is true that some do not live up to their potential but instead of looking down on them just be thankful that you had the encouragement and support to achieve yours.You will come to cherish ‘home’ as it will be the place you can go no matter how crazy things get and you will find comfort in the familiar faces and the familiar places.

Oh, and if you really want to do something great with your life, go to Dal!

Many teenagers do it; many enjoy doing it. Many spend oodles of money on it and it only takes about 20 minutes three times each week. Such little work for such dramatic results that you carry around with you 24/7…so what is the drawback?

This thing that I am talking about is artificial tanning and it has become something that teenagers have become more interested in, especially as the prom season is once again upon us (in fact, Prom 2011 at my local High School is taking place as I write this post). An interesting group of students throughout Canada are using this prom season to send a message about artificial tanning; they want teenagers to abstain. Why is this? Recent studies have shown a dramatic increase in the instance of melanoma (a form of cancer) in young women who tan regularly. The World Health Organization has labeled artificial tanning beds as a type 1 carcinogen; other things in this category include tobacco and arsenic.

Though not necessarily a trendy option (that is, not to tan) it may well be a logical one. The difficulty is that popular media portrays the popular, good looking and healthy individuals as those who sport a tan.

I have to admit that when Mandy and I got married I went tanning…this was recommended because we were heading to the Caribbean for our honeymoon. Even worse, I loved tanning; it was not just about dark skin, I found the whole experience extremely relaxing and quite a nice stress relief after a long day. I guess I have learned to distress with other less harmful activities these days.

It seems so interesting that we in Canada are obsessed with making our skin darker whereas in other cultures people are obsessed with making their skin fairer. When Mandy and I did an STM in Thailand I encountered many individuals for whom dark skin was a sign of inferiority. Those with dark skin were forced to do manual labor where they were continually exposed to the elements. In these cultures it is the noble class with the fair skin.

For these folks light really is the new dark. Will this trend make it in our culture? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

(The original article concerning this can be found at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2010/04/09/pei-students-tan-prom-584.html)