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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Parent Resources by Brian Spatz

I absolutely love parents! Here are some of the resources that I am using to help our parents, grandparents, and guardians at Shoreline Community Church.

1) A Dedicated “Parents Page” on our Website.
With the approval of Pastor Bob, I began developing a youth website on Tumblr, revision-students.com (only $12 for the domain, per year). As I began developing, I added a simple “Parents” page, revision-students.com/parents. This has grown in becoming one of the single most impactful actions I took to bridge the gap with our parents. We have  included on Parent’s Page a range of information:

- Upcoming Events: For big events like Camp, Evoke, and Mission’s Trips, we developed individual webpages with trip specific information to help parents find what needs to be packed, when to drop-off and pick up, etc. But we have a one or two sentence summary of date, cost, and location of each event.

Weekly Teachings: We briefly describe what we are teaching at our mid-week gatherings and our Sunday growth groups. For more detailed information our parents visit, revision-students.com/current-series, which shows weekly what is being discussed and if we have sensitive topics we indicate it on the week it is discussed with an “*” and note it in our monthly email. This has saved us from offending parents of younger youth.

Parenting Resources: We break it down by Websites, Books, Free Downloads, and Seminars on subjects such as, “Purity & Contemporary Issues”, “Bible”, “Parenting”, etc. We took the time to add active links and keep updating when we find great material. We have a separate “Resources” page for our students, revision-students.com/resources.

Overall, our website has been time consuming process and this is just the specifics on our “Parents” page. The time put into it has greatly helped me long-term. Whenever I have parents ask about specific events or what is being taught, I simply point them to this website. If they are new, I verbally tell them first, then write on a notecard our website for parents so they can read more. According to Google Analytics, it’s been our most viewed page after our home page.

2) Monthly Email Updates.
Many decide on weekly emails but I do weekly reflections on our website for both parents and students to be up to date. This also helps generate traffic from sources such as Twitter and Facebook. Here are some key things we include in every Parent Email: “What’s Been Going On”, “Upcoming Events”, and “Quick Reminders”. On every email, we include active links out to our website and various social networks. I always end with this signature, “Your Biggest Fans” and sign my wife and I’s name. The main thing I want them to remember is Krista and I are for them and love them, not just their kids or money.

3) Bi-annual Parent Huddles and weekly Parent Coaching.
We intentionally use verbiage and phrasing that are used in team sports. We want to subtly remind parents that Krista and I are on their team.

- Parent Huddles: Twice a year we host our parents after our last morning gathering to a free lunch full of giveaways, pertinent information, and encouragement. Throughout this event we have pictures from our events rolling through on the screens, we have a free, quality lunch, and have our youth staff team intentionally connecting with all of our families at each table. I share with them some information on why we exist, how things have been going, remind them of our resources both online and in house, give away free books and Starbucks gift cards, and we pray for them. We open it up for questions and constantly are pointing them to our “Parents Page”. We also give them a postcard with the date and time of our next Huddle with the approximate cost, dates, and name of upcoming events that are coming up the next 6 months. Click HERE to view photos from our event. If you have a youth ministry budget, be generous, your parents deserve this. If you do not have a budget, do a potluck style and make it as significant as your resources will allow.

Parent Coaching: I hesitate to inform you all about this, because I do not want to seem like I’m trying to be a YouTube sensation. I do not. Stuttering has a strange way of making you leery of any recording. But for the sake of helping our parents, I’m working through it and creating videos that are released every week. They last between 5-12 minutes and aim towards coaching our parents on issues teenagers face. This is providing a pastoral perspective and walking the tension of being both the parent’s and youth’s advocate. Essentially, I have the conversation I would have with them in my office or at Starbucks if they would want to talk with me about these issues. We have them broken down by mini-series, with the current one being, “What Do I Do When ___________.” If they have any questions, we are always available.

All of these items have helped to develop an incredible amount of trust and credibility with our parents. We are striving to find more ways to equip, disciple, and love our families. If you have any questions on developing your own webpage on Tumblr, want a sample of our Parent Coaching, or want to learn more about our Parent Huddles, let me know, brian@shorelinecc.com.

By |May 21, 2013|Blog|2 Comments

Surviving the Flood: 4 Keys for Transitioning to the University

moving day

About once a month I get a call from a concerned parent:

quote

My son moved to your university last month. He’s a good Christian, but he is struggling to find a connection on campus. I’m not sure he has a healthy set of friends right now. Could you go invite him to your weekly worship meeting?

For 17 years, I’ve diligently looked up these students in order to hang out. Trying my best to say “Your mom/dad/pastor gave me your room number” without saying it directly. To be helpful, I sometimes send an outgoing Christian student instead.

If you’re wondering how it goes, let me just say: Those. Moments. Are. Awkward.

On my campus, we have 0% success pursuing Christian students on behalf of their parents or pastor. Zero. (You might guess this result was obvious.) Unfortunately, the second option is hardly better:

quote

I gave a girl in our youth group some information for your campus ministry, Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. She’ll be getting involved when she moves to town. Look out, world!

In my own experience, this approach nets about 1 in 4 Christian students who meaningfully connect with any Christian community (not necessarily Chi Alpha) when they arrive. That’s roughly a quarter. 1

Just imagine if there were a better way to roll.

I and my fellow campus missionaries spend a lot of time with new college students. We see a picture of their faith from the “other side” of the high school transition.

Do you know what our main concern is for an incoming Christian student?

Hint: it’s not their theology. You might think that years of Bible teaching and a managed Christian environment produces young adults with a solid trajectory on campus. But that is not what happens.

Our concern is the social Flood. A student arriving at the university is dumped into a sea of unknown relationships. The friendships that form on Day One—for good or bad—will persist for years. Social life shapes a person’s daily walk with Jesus, and an 18-22 year-old quickly develops new, faith-numbing habits.

The picture looks like this:

social chaos

So what is the key? Believe it or not, up to 90% of Christian youth end up in a campus healthy ministry IF they have an early “normal” social introduction. That’s been my experience for a long time.

So here is the bottom line: we must coach students through that transition. In which case, the picture should look more like:

social transition

The goal is to promote a social handoff—BEFORE the first day on campus. From one trusted world to the next. From your youth program to a healthy campus ministry.

How do we accomplish this? Here are a few suggestions. Between May and August, help your graduating youth to . . .

1 Meet up with some Christian students in the campus ministry. Establish initial friendships that will continue in the first weeks of fall. Coordinate a visit to campus and hang out with Chi Alpha students (who love this, by the way).
2 Get to know the campus ministry staff. Remember, this is a social transition, not an information download. Your youth needs to see a trust between his/her parents or pastor, and the new campus ministry.
3 Consider visiting a weekly worship meeting or a student-led Bible study. Physically walking into a Christian “home” on campus is a powerful association for a student headed into a new living situation. Most Chi Alpha ministries meet on a weeknight on campus.
4 Meet up with ministry staff or students during summer orientation—a required ritual at all public universities. Consider hanging out at a social event with Christians instead of joining the party atmosphere.

Let’s set our students up for success. We need to be proactive as pastors and parents. Remember: they are establishing a social routine for those crucial first weeks of life on campus!

To contact one of our Chi Alpha ministries, with Christian student communities on public universities throughout the Pacific Northwest, please find us at nwxa.org.

______________________________

1 Do you notice a similarity to the statistical average in America? 7 out of 10 Christian youth will cease to actively follow Jesus after graduation. In other words, if your youth grad leaves home with a good heart, and the name of a ministry to join, you’re essentially committing them to the world of chance. And the odds are low. (Kinnaman, You Lost Me, 22-23)  ↩

Dan and Becky Guenther

Dan Guenther is a lover of college students, hot pizza, off-trail hiking and natural science. He is director of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries in the Northwest Ministry Network. He and his wife, Becky, have been missional pastors since before the dawn of the millennium.
 
For reprints of this article, you can reach Dan atdan (at) nwxa.org
By |May 17, 2013|Blog|2 Comments

Mark Zweifel | Self Leadership & Finishing Well

By |May 16, 2013|YP Hangout|0 Comments