Breaking the Silence with Brief Family Update

I realized as I looked at my dashboard for this site that I haven’t posted anything for 38 days.  I’m sure many of you were quite concerned by the absence so I thought I would break the silence with a quick update on family things.  Part of the reason for the absence of any activity is that we’ve had a number of transitions happening.  Three of our kids wrapped up the school year (two in college and one in high school), one of our kids got a new job and relocated and our two-year old just keeps us on the move.

Joe Gap

Joe started a new job June 6 with International Disaster Emergency Services in Noblesville, IN.  He will serve as the GAP Program Director for this ministry.  He was able to stay with a family for a few weeks while he got to know the area and last weekend we helped move him into his new apartment.  In just a couple of weeks he will be married and the two of them will get settled into live in the Hoosier state.

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Sydney is in the process of transferring schools.  The multiple surgeries to her knee are just not allowing her to endure the constant practice and work outs required to play at a D-I school.  She will be attending the University of Indianapolis and playing ball as a Greyhound.  So, we have a few more basketball games in our future – in Indiana! – and two of our kids will be near the same city.

God has continued to provide what is needed at just the right time and we look forward to seeing what He continues to do in the coming year.  Now, back to enjoying the summer after breaking the silence.

Social Media Tips for Parents

I receive a regular email from a youth ministry organization called YouthSpecialties.  They offer training, resources and events for those in youth ministry.  This week’s email contained a helpful video of an interview with Jakob Eckeberger, a volunteer youth worker and an employee of YouthSpecialties who is involved in the social media side of things.

Eckeberger offers some tips and insights to parents about social media.  He makes some good observations, especially regarding the growth of technology and the fact that we live in a word with no technological boundaries.  He makes a comment that phones used to be stuck to the wall and TV’s were huge boxes that sat in our living rooms. Now, it is everywhere.

I thought this was a beneficial resource for parents and wanted to pass it along.  You can see all the original content on the YouthSpecialties Blog.

Here’s the actual interview and below the video is the breakdown that YS provided.

3 THINGS THAT INFLUENCE HOW KIDS USE SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY:

1. We live in a world with no technological boundaries.

In my generation, we grew up with some really firm boundaries on our technology. Phones had cords that plugged into walls. The internet was only available through dial-up. Big box televisions were the only way to watch TV shows. Those literal boundaries around our technology helped us come to understand who we were outside of it. Today, there are zero boundaries to our technology. This constant, 24/7 access to technology leaves a huge impact on our kids, inviting things like social media to become an important part of their personal, mental, and sociological development.

2. Social media becomes a window through which we see and experience the world around us.

This means that apps like Instagram aren’t merely used to post pictures. Instagram becomes a window through which we answer important questions like: Who am I? Where do I fit in? Does my life matter?

We aren’t just consuming answers to those questions through the images we see on Instagram, we’re actually creating our responses. We create images to tell stories of our daily life and then compare it to what everyone else is creating. This is a significant thing for kids who are just starting to figure out who there are and where/if they fit in.

3. The fallacy that everything on line is temporary.

Darrel Girardier shared a GREAT POST that touched on this. Apps like Snapchat tap into this idea that content on the internet can be easily deleted. But we know from experience (SNAPCHAT LEAKS 100,000 PHOTOS) that it’s not always the case. Once we post something, we have very little control over what happens to it.

3 THINGS THAT PARENTS CAN DO:

1. Recognize that the issue isn’t the technology, but how that technology is used.

Most of the technology available to our kids today, and specifically things like social media, aren’t necessarily evil. It’s all in how the technology is used. When we give our kids a smart phone, we’re giving them technology that comes with a ton of responsibility. We can’t protect our kids from all the bad ways that this technology can be used, but we can help them live into the incredible amount of responsibility that they’ve been given. To borrow from Walt Mueller, it’s all apart of helping students think critically and Christianly about what they post before they post it.

2. Create boundaries around technology.

Sit down as a family to create blackout times and locations in your house where every screen is turned off, and the phones and tablets are put away. Have family game nights, or dinner times when you intentionally connect with one another. Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock to have in your room so that you don’t need your phone at night.

3. Be the example.

Ideally, parents would be modeling healthy uses of technology for their kids. So set boundaries that your entire family can agree on. That way, as a parent, you can be the first one to step away from your phone or tablet. By being the example, you can show what a healthy relationship with technology looks like.

The YS Idea Labs are filmed on location at the National Youth Workers Convention. Check out more YS Idea Labs HEREand register early for NYWC to save BIG: NYWC.COM.

1MISSION Campaign Update – House is Built!

ortiz barajas familyIf you are from the Wilmington Church of Christ or have been keeping up with my posts, you probably know we were raising funds to build a house for the Barajas family in Mexico. I received some good news this week: their house has been completed!

The above picture shows the family with the keys to their home. If you gave toward this project, THANK YOU! What a great work to be a part of. You can read more about the family on the 1MISSION page.

Here are a couple more pictures:

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Parent/Student Progressive Dinner Updated!

I posted yesterday about our Parent/Student Progressive Dinner and added a slide show of some of the pics from our photo booth. After posting it I was looking back through the pictures and kept thinking we missed some people. I did! Somehow several pictures ended up in a different folder on my memory card – don’t you love technology?

Since we have such beautiful people in our church family, I felt they needed to be in the slide show.

So, check out the updated video below and gaze and the awesomeness of our families!

Parent/Student Progressive Dinner

When our IMPACT Leadership Team met in the summer to look at our school year calendar and plan various events, activities and service projects, we also talked about how we could do specific events for the family. We wanted to have something on our calendar that brought the family together. One event happened this past weekend – our Parent/Student Progressive Dinner.

We have done progressive food events in the past and thought it would be a fun event for families. Who doesn’t like to eat? We decided to host it in the church building and incorporate some interactive elements. We made it a football theme, gathered food you might eat while tailgating and included some football trivia activities. We also had a photo booth. It’s always fun to capture pictures of each event and the photo booth was a way to do that and let the personalities of our families come out.

A brief video containing some of the photo booth pictures is below. We look forward to doing more events that bring students and parents together!

Support the Walk To End Alzheimer’s 2015

Walk to End AlzheimersThis will be the third year that I have had the opportunity to participate in The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. My mother-in-law has been battling this disease for a few years now and we are all waking (Cheryl, Andrew, Max & I) in her honor and hoping for a cure.

The Walk is a great gathering of people who have lost loved ones, those who are care-givers for those struggling with the disease and even people who have Alzheimer’s. The primary goal is to find a cure.

My wife has set up our Walk to End Alzheimer’s Donation Page and we would appreciate any support that you can offer.  I know there are many great organizations that are raising funds and not everyone can give to everything.  If you can help, click on the link or the picture above.

This is our picture from last year’s Walk.  Thanks for considering supporting us in The Walk 2015.

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1MISSION Spring Break Build Trip, March, 2016

Last school year our IMPACT Student Ministry helped to raise funds to build a home for a family in Mexico through 1MISSION. We heard about 1MISSION at a couple of youth conferences and decided to partner with them by raising funds.

Next year, over Spring Break (March 28 – April 1, 2016) we are planning to take a group to go on site and help build a home in Mexico. We are excited about the possibility of working hand in hand with 1MISSION to provide safe housing for those in need.

An information packet is available for our IMPACT students and families. We are still working on nailing down final costs for the trip, primarily in the area of travel. Once we are on the field, 1MISSION provides housing, meals and construction tools and materials for the project.

A 1MISSION provides a video overview and more information on their website.

More information will be coming and we look forward to taking a group to help build a home.

Here’s a peek into what the process looks like:

Two Helpful Youth Ministry Blog Posts

reblogThe internet is full of blogs about a number of different topics. You can read a blog about just about any subject imaginable. Look, you are reading a blog post right now about blog posts!

One of the benefits of youth ministry in 2015 is that there are a lot of free resources, articles and training tools online. Some of them come in the way of blog posts. I had two links come into my email today that pointed to two helpful articles. One is for youth ministers/volunteers in general and the second is for those who work specifically with junior high/middle school students.

Whether you are a paid youth worker or an unpaid volunteer, we all benefit from hearing from other voices and gleaning information from those who serve students and families.

The first is titled “What I Wish I Knew” written by Josh Griffin. He reflects on what he has learned in the past 20 years of serving in youth ministry. While all the thoughts he shares are good, I thought the point he made about youth ministry being about students and adults was on point. You can read the article below or by clicking the link above.

The second post was called “Top 10: 5th-8th Grade Years Transitions” and was written by Dan Istvanik. I think this is the first time I’ve visited his blog, but I thought what he shared about students transitioning into junior high/middle school was helpful. Sometimes we forget what it is like to be a student who has to navigate the junior high years. His article was kind of a quick bullet point list of the transitions students face. Check it out below or by hitting the link.

Thanks to all who share your wisdom on blogs, websites and social media!

WHAT I WISH I KNEW – JOSH GRIFFIN

I’ve been in youth ministry for 20 years. That’s still a crazy thing for me to write – I still feel sometimes like I’m just getting started and know very little. But the truth is, I’ve been living this out for a couple of decades. I still love it and still love being in the trenches of youth ministry (and serving youth workers through DOWNLOAD YOUTH MINISTRY) if I could go back and talk to my 21-year old self a few things about youth ministry, here’s what I would say to that eager, exciting just-graduating college young man:

IT ISN’T ALL GOING TO BE FUN AND GAMES.
Youth ministry over the next 20 years of your life is going to be SO fun. You’re going to laugh and play so much. You’re going to smile a ton, and just love doing what God has called you to do. You’re going to make memories all over the world and impact teenagers at a crucial point in their life. BUT, it is also going to be really difficult. It is going to test you. You’re going to see things that discourage you. You will be frustrated. You’re going to be pushed to the edge of your patience and the edge of your faith. It is going to be SO fun, but it is real work and you’ll battle real spiritual warfare, too.

YOU ARE GOING TO BE IMPACTED.
You think this thing is all about students – but YOU are going to grow a ton. As you lean into the Scriptures for guidance as you teach, counsel and help others, you will grow so deep in your faith. Of course, the temptation is to do this in your own strength, but that doesn’t end well. Your life will be changed because of youth ministry when you walk with Jesus.

IT IS ABOUT STUDENTS AND ADULTS.
When you think about youth ministry, you think about youth. But it is so much more than that. Yes, it is about teenagers making decisions for Jesus. You do get to help serve them in this crucial life stage. But it is also about parents and adult leaders. It is about the team you get to create and do life with. It is about the moms and dads you get to equip and encourage. And you’ll grow from single youth worker to married parent in the process of this whole thing and realize more than ever when you’re in the thick of it just how important youth ministry is to your family, too.

IT IS THE MOST REWARDING CALLING EVER.
Through the ups and downs, through everything, there’s no better calling on the planet. There’s nothing more rewarding to give your life to. Stay the course, stay close to Jesus and after a while you’ll realize just how incredible it is. You’ll think about your teenagers … now adults and watch them flourish (and some flounder still trying to find) their faith as followers of Jesus. You’ll look at your own children and smile as you reflect on them growing up loving the church.

What would you go back and tell yourself when you started youth ministry?

TOP 10: 5th-8th GRADE YEARS TRANSITIONS – DAN ISTVANIK

10. One Classroom to Multiple Classrooms.
Going from the elementary school, one maybe two main classroom setting to the middle school/Jr. high setting of a homeroom and changing classrooms for every subject.

9. Stable to Emotional.
With changes all around them and internal, hormonal changes. Middle year students may go from being stable, consistent emotionally to having ranging emotions from highs to lows often inside a short period of time without much real cause or warning.

8. Dependent on Parents to Independent of Parents.
Middle year students with the various changes in schedule and personality will also move from childhood dependence to a maturing need for more freedom.

7. Arranged Friendships to Chosen Friendships
Friendships go from parent arranged “play dates” to students choosing their own peer groups based on mutual preferences and interests.

6. Innocent to Knowledgable.
With social education, media access, and parent’s having “the talk” the middle year are marked by a stage from a more innocent view of the world to a more knowledgable, realistic view of life.

5. Fearful to Risk Taking
Along with the move from innocence to knowledge and the transition from dependence to independence to knowledge the middle year are time of being fearful to taking risks socially, emotionally, and even physically.

4. Sexually Unaware to Sexually Aware
More specific in the innocence to knowledge transition, these are the years of becoming aware of sexuality, others and their own. Often leading to some questioning and identity awareness.

3. Concrete to Abstract Thinking
A black and white, right and wrong simplicity of thinking moves to a processing of grey areas and synthesis of understanding and thought.

2. Child Body to Teen Body
Growth spurts, puberty, and sexual discovery are the physical transitions in the middle years that move a child into being a teen/young adult.

1. Family Faith to Personal Faith
Where the role of middle years ministry and importance of a church providing a solid middle year specific ministry becomes so paramount. Belief moves from what parents believe and teach to what a student personally discover, question and claim as their own. The reason we do what, we do as 5th-8th pastors/director/leaders/volunteers!!!

1MISSION Campaign Officially Complete

1MISSION CompleteFor the past several months we have been talking about and raising funds for our 1MISSION Campaign to help get the Ortiz Barajas family into a home.  We are now officially complete!  Our goal was to raise $4000 and through concession stands at Upward Basketball and a karate tournament, through generous online gifts and money given in the “green buckets” on a Sunday morning, we have arrived at our destination.

Thanks to all those from our Wilmington Church of Christ family for supporting our efforts to partner with 1MISSION.  We look forward to hearing how these funds are used to help the Barajas family in Mexico.

 

Finish Our 1MISSION Project – Fill the Green Buckets

1Mission Finish UpWe are in the home stretch of our 1MISSION project. Our goal was to raise $4,000 to build a home for the Barajas family. We are just $900 away from reaching that goal. We have a couple more weeks to get to the goal.

One way you can be a part of our project is to SHARE our 1MISSION Campaign Page Link. Whatever social media outlet you use (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), you can share the link to give people an opportunity to give and be a part of providing a home for this family. Here’s the link: https://my.1mission.org/t/2539/impact. Copy it and share it.

Another way to be a part of our project of course is to GIVE. For our Wilmington Church of Christ family, we have a practical way to do that. For the next few Sundays, we will have green buckets (see below) by the doors of our Ministry Center. As you enter or leave, you can drop extra change or dollar bills into the green buckets. Everything given in the green buckets will go toward our 1MISSION family.

Join in with us to reach our goal and provide a home for the Barajas family!

green bucket