The Front Page

Welcome to the Front Page, the digital cover of the Wayne Press.  Here we will share with you things that can't be captured in our newsletter--videos, music, color photographs--as well as articles that reflect on faith and life.  

 

Numbers

I am a bit of a numbers guy.  If you told me that a team was doing well, say the Miami Heat, and won most of their games this season, I would say, “wow they must be pretty good.”  But if you were to tell me that they won 27 games straight this season, my jaw would drop.  Now this blog entry has nothing to do with basketball, nor is this a roundabout way of saying I am taking my talents to South Beach, but at the heart is it is one scary number for me: 80.  “More than 80% of the students attending church while in high school will not attend church one year after they graduate.”

I think a lot about that number.  I know a lot of parents and families think about it too.  I have spoken with a number of parents who have great anxiety about their child’s faith.  They want to know how to help their child develop a relationship with Christ. 

For those of you in this boat, I am glad to say that there are some very encouraging facts as well.  Studies show that “Students who reported having positive family communication were twice as likely to perceive God as important in their lives.”  Additionally, a 1997 study by the Barna Research group found that 78% teens said that their parents influence their decisions making more than anyone else.  Lastly, a 1993 study by Newsweek and the Children’s Defense Fund shows “the following factors were most influential on kids (in order): parents, extended family, coaches, teachers and other adults outside the home, peers and media.”

The great thing is, parents, coaches, teachers, uncles, aunts, youth workers, all of us have an amazing opportunity to impact the teens we care so much about.  The question now is, “how?”  Researchers say that this generation of kids “have a need to be connected to family or community,” “have a deep spiritual hunger and a desire to connect with something bigger than themselves,” and “are moved by honesty and transparency.” 

Based on this, and my own experience, the best place to start is by opening lines of communication.  Are you a parent?  Maybe start by having family meals together and ask them about their day and their life.  Make use of all of those car rides to and from sports and other activities by striking up a conversation them.  Find a way to pray regularly with your kids and for your kids.  Are you an uncle, aunt, coach, teacher, youth worker, or caring adult?  Whenever you see your teens, ask them how school is going, or about their girlfriend, or how tryouts went.  If they need encouragement, pray with them and for them.

I think sometimes we feel like it takes some big program or event to make a difference in a teens spiritual life, but the fact of the matter is that our daily interactions with them have the most influence.  Let’s band together, family, teachers, coaches, and church members to love this generation of teens and model God’s love to them.  Let’s see if we can beat the odds.

~Andrew

 Burns, Jim and Mike DeVries. Partnering with Parents in Youth Ministry. Gospel Light, 2003. Pages 12, 16, 37-38.

Posted by Andrew Hostetter at 6:00 AM
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