Selfie Obessession

The “selfie” has become a pretty popular thing (no news flash there). I have actually found myself taking “group selfies” on our trips with students. And the last couple pics have turned out pretty well…if I do say so myself.

But then I wonder if a group selfie is really a selfie because there are many “selves” and not just a “self” in the picture.

Anyways…this infographic is pretty interesting as it gives the stats on how many selfies are out there. Just think – 93 million selfies taken each day. WOW!

There is a story of how damaging the selfie obsession can be and some tips for people to consider as they take selfies.

Interesting information for parents, teens and those who care about students.

Selfie_Narcissism-Infographic-20151222-03

Advertisements

Teens Use Media 9 Hours Daily

Lightstock-Stock-Photo-Pearl-Smart-Phone-AddictionFor the past few years, I have heard the statistic that students spent 7.5 hours of their day connected to some type of media. A recent survey from Common Sense Media shares that students on average spend 9 hours every day connected to media.

For parents and people who work with students, it’s kind of important that we know what students are spending their time doing. What was interesting to me in the article was that only 10% of teens rank social media as their favorite activity. Model Essena O’Neill created a buzz on social media when she announced she was quitting social media because posts are edited and just try to get more views.

It would be interesting to engage in a conversation with students in your world and find out what they do with their time on media. Maybe it is social media, maybe it is texting. Whatever they do to fill the time, it is pretty clear that media is a huge part of it.

Here’s the text of a brief article related to this Common Sense Media survey posted on YouthMinistry.com. Check it out and maybe find out what your students do with media.

New York—According to a report from the nonprofit Common Sense Media, teenagers spend about nine hours each day using media for their enjoyment. That doesn’t include media use for homework.

Calling the numbers “mind-boggling,” James Steyer, the group’s CEO, said teenagers “spend far more time with media technology than any other thing in their life. This is the dominant intermediary in their life.”

The study also found that 67 percent of teenagers have their own smartphones, poorer kids have less access to technology, and boys gravitate toward gaming, while girls prefer social media. Only 10 percent of teens rank social media as their favorite activity, however, and Steyer believes that’s because checking those sites now feels like a requirement. “They don’t love [social media],” he said, “and that’s good, in my opinion.”

One person who stopped loving social media is Essena O’Neill, a 19-year-old model who had more than 1 million followers on various platforms. This week, she announced she’s quitting social media, saying it made her miserable and wasn’t “real life.” Post are “edited and contrived to get more views,” she told followers before deleting her pages. “Social media is an illusion.”

O’Neill said she followed famous people on social media, trying to emulate them. But then she realized, “I didn’t live in the real world, I lived through screens. And I created a celebrity construct of myself, believing it would bring me happiness. That couldn’t be further away from the truth.”

O’Neill, who’s launching a website called “Let’s Be Game Changers,” said, “I no longer want to spend hours and hours of my time scrolling, viewing, and comparing myself to others. I want to do something, anything, something radical, something a little different. I want to use my imagination, my individual mind, my unique take on the world.”

Sources: commonsensemedia.org, cnn.com

Conforming Jesus to our Own Image

facesofjesusDuring the summer months, as I was ordering some small group curriculum from The Youth Cartel, I picked up a copy of Jen Bradbury’s book The Jesus Gap. I just started digging into it this week and am intrigued to move farther through the chapters.

The book takes a look at what teens believe about Jesus and it is based on both research and the author’s experience in working with students. In the opening chapters, Bradbury references a 2010 article from Christianity Today written by Scot McKnight. He writes about how people view Jesus and His conclusion is that we as people conform Jesus to our own image.

“Instead, if given to enough people, the test will reveal that we all think Jesus is like us. Introverts think Jesus is introverted, for example, and, on the basis of the same questions, extroverts think Jesus is extroverted. Spiritual formation experts would love to hear that students in my Jesus class are becoming like Jesus, but the test actually reveals the reverse: Students are fashioning Jesus to be more like themselves. If the test were given to a random sample of adults, the results would be measurably similar. To one degree or another, we all conform Jesus to our own image.”

In the first chapter Bradbury shares some of the views that students have of Jesus – from Jesus as a Superhero to an Average Joe Jesus – and whether they see Jesus as being either obedient or rebellious or quiet or talkative.  The responses are so varied that she feels her investigation supports what McKnight wrote about in 2010.

For church workers, it does raise the question of how students (and adults) in our congregations view Jesus.  I have to assume that the views we would discover are as varied as the research Bradbury shares.

For followers of Jesus – and for me – I have to wonder whether I have conformed Jesus to my own image.  Is my view of Jesus based on what is revealed in Scripture or do I view Jesus more in line what I think He is?

I’m curious to not only read the rest of the research in the book, but also to learn how to apply that in our specific context. The point (I think) is not just to learn about how people – how our students – view Jesus, but how that impacts our relationship with Him. Bradbury quotes Carl Braaten in her introduction pointing to why our view of Jesus is important: “…faith stands or falls with what it knows about Jesus of Nazareth.”

 

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!!!

IMPACT 2015-2016 Overview

Last weekend we kicked off our IMPACT school year calendar with a Tail Gate Party and Parent Meeting. We know that once the school year begins, families keep busy with school, school activities, sports events, mom and dad’s work schedules plus all the other things that life throws at us. In order to help our families manage the busyness, we provide a calendar of events for the school year. The parent meeting is our first attempt to get information into the hands of parents.

You can click on the image at the top of the page to get a closer look at what is on this year’s calendar.

For those parents (and students) who may not have been able to attend the meeting, here is a somewhat brief overview of what we talked about.

WEEKLY PROGRAMS:: Here are the programs for students that we offer on a weekly basis. During the school year, we invite all students to join us for these weekly program.

Sunday:
High School Class (B103); Junior High Class (C102) 9:00 am
Small Groups 4:30 pm

Wednesday:
IMPACT Praise Band Practice 6:30 pm

A FEW HIGHLIGHTS:: Each fall we participate in the retreats that are hosted at our local church camp, Butler Springs Christian Camp. The two weekends are a great opportunity for our students and leaders to spend a weekend together, for our students to connect with other students and to grow in our relationship with God. Check out the information on the retreats below.

The Junior High Retreat will take place October 16-18. Cost for the weekend is $65 and the registration deadline is October 4. (The price goes up after that time)

Click on the image below to read more about “This Is Whatever.”

whatever_poster

The High School Retreat will take place November 6-8. Cost for the weekend is $55 if you are registered by the early bird deadline of Sept. 21. (The price goes up after that time)

Click on the image below to read more about “Backpacks and Burdens.”

Backpack&Burdens

We’ve also added Two Parent/Student Events to the calendar – one in the fall and one in the spring. They will be fun events where our students and parents to interact with one another.

COMMUNICATION:: There are a few different avenues we use to communicate with both parents and students.  We would love it if all of our parents and students were connected to at least one of these outlets for communication.

FACEBOOK:   “Like” our IMPACT Facebook Page and/or Wilmington Church of Christ Facebook page

TEXT:  text the phrase IMPACT909 to 95577 to receive occasional text updates

EMAIL:  we send out occasional email reminders.  Email tonysturf@wcconline.org to be added to email list

WEBSITE:   We post updates to the IMPACT Page of our church website.

We are excited about the start of the school year and what’s taking place in IMPACT Student Ministry.  If you are a parent or a student in the Wilmington area, we’d love to connect with you.  Share this information with other families as well.

Thought Provoking Suicide Prevention Video

While catching up on my emails this week, I read one from a youth ministry blog I follow. One of the posts was about this video from the Mayo Clinic. While suicide is not a topic people enjoy discussing, I thought this video addressed the topic very well.

This is a good resource for parents and those who work with students. The video’s message is pretty clear: if you think your student is in trouble, say something. It talks about things to say and things not to say. There are some good insights to use and remember if you encounter a student struggling.

Enamored By Numbers

internet-statisticsI think for most (if not all) people involved in ministry, it is easy to get caught up in numbers. If one has a program or event and attendance is good, it leaves the planners with a sense of satisfaction. The opposite can be true if numbers are low – leaders can walk away deflated. We can become enamored by the numbers.

I remember something I read years ago (in the book Purpose Driven Youth Ministry I think): It’s easy to compare what you don’t know about someone else with what you do know about yourself. If I see what I consider success in another program and compare it to mine, it could leave me feeling unsuccessful.

I’m not sure how to get away from the numbers game. It is A way to determine success and fruit, but not THE way to determine it. There definitely is value in tracking the number of people involved in programs, groups, events, etc. I guess the challenge for the leader is not to live and die by the numbers.

I’m not the first to discuss the tension that exists and I really don’t have great, clear-cut advice for people in leadership positions. There are people smarter and more experienced than me that could speak to it. Just in the past few weeks I’ve been caught up in that tension and kind of chuckle at myself when I get either too high or too low based on the turnout for a particular program or event. I’m still working through it and manage it better some days versus others. Guess we are a work in progress.