4 RESPONSES TO #SEXTING

 —  December 19, 2013 — 1 Comment

Countdown-4Think back when you were a Jr. High or High School student. What would’ve been the equivalent to sexting?

I’m guessing it would probably be flashing. The only difference between the two (besides the obvious) is that a quick flash would only be talked about after it has happened. Sexting pics are forever, therefore, people have visuals to add to the conversations for years to come.

If you think sexting is about students just getting a quick fix of sexual gratification you are mistaken. There is a lot more going on. Guardchild.com did a very detailed survey on sexting, and the results were interesting.

  • One in five teens have engaged in sexting – sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos through text messages. And over a third knows someone who has either sent or received messages like this.
  • 38% of teens confessed to someone sharing with them what was sent to them.
  • 34% of the girls that have participated in sexting say they did it to feel sexy.
  • 23% of girls and 24% of boys say they were pressured by a friend to send the inappropriate pictures.
  • Most participants say they engage in sexting because their boyfriend/girlfriend ask them to or to have fun.
  • 52% of girls said they did it as a present.
  • 29% of teens believe those exchanging sexually suggestive content are “expected” to hookup or date.

These statistics say a few things that we in youth ministry need to pay attention to.

  • These statistics change the face of the person who’s sexting. It’s like when you think of a flasher you think of an old pervert who walks around in a trenchcoat all day. Well, when you think of sexting you may think of an older, porn-exposed student who’s been a trouble maker for most of their life. These statistics suggest that’s not the case. These statistics normalizes the profile of a sexter to look a lot more like your everyday teen in Jr. High or High School, who may or may have not viewed porn before.
  • These statistics suggest that sexting is becoming normalized within boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.
  • These statistics suggest that sexting is becoming more normal and culturally acceptable in the world of teens.
  • These statistics suggest that sexting is a gateway to getting into more sexual activity.
  • These statistics suggest that it’s impossible to shield your child from sexting.
  • These statistics suggest that there is a deceptive identity/power piece that sexting gives to girls and guys.

So what should be our response?

Sexting is a complete lie embedded in the mind set that it’s innocent or that it’s not worse than me having sex. Here are 4 ways I feel we should respond:

  1. Prayer - We should be interceding for our students and for the students at our local schools. Prayer in our ministries need to be proactive not reactive. Keep your ministry connected to the power source.
  2. Educate parents on trends and technology -About 2 out of every 5 teens say their parents have no idea what they are doing online. So we must take the initiative and help parents become more knowledgeable with trends and technology. Let’s be the support they don’t know they need.
  3. Talk about it in youth group – I wrote a post on this (click here). Add Sexting to the list because it’s becoming the norm. And right now students don’t get a choice whether they are exposed to it or not.
  4. Challenge your students – I think sometimes we may feel like a good talk is enough, but actually talk is only half the battle. You need to challenge your students to take action, and stand against cultural norms that are slowly destroying their generation. Give them action steps that will give them confidence in the stance they take. Teach them how to move in righteous anger. Be creative in what you give them the opportunity to do. I would grab a few students and let them help you shape the challenge. I love getting students involved in stuff like this, because it gives them ownership.

I would love for the #ymnation to weigh in. What are some other ways we should respond to sexting?

hope it helps

ac

237_many_hatsI had the opportunity to give a few thoughts on discipleship to our small group leaders. So I thought I’d share them with you all.

I’m a firm believer that small groups are messy and not as clear cut as some may make them out to be. Therefore, discipleship within small groups is not as clear cut either. I believe the many hats a small group leader has to wear shows the messiness of small groups, and also presents a reason as to why small groups are messy.

Small Group Leader Hats

  1. Counselor
  2. Teacher
  3. Mediator
  4. Friend
  5. Disciplinarian
  6. Role Model
  7. Support System
  8. Advocate
  9. Many More

Wearing this many hats makes a checklist discipleship system impossible. I’ve worn many hat’s being a small group leader and many of them at the same time. What has helped me the most are the principles Jesus used discipling his disciples. When I look at how Jesus discipled, I see a more patterns of principles than methods or structure. Principles deal with the important intangibles that effect areas of our life long term.

We must understand that every time you interact with your students you are discipling them. Whether you know it or not you are discipling with your life and with the choices you make. How you live and the choices you make effect your students for the better or worst. And that’s why I believe Jesus discipled based on principles. Discipling through these principles has been encouraging and literally life changing for me and my small group. So here are the three principles I feel like Jesus used with his disciples:

 

  1. Disciple Through Relationships – Grow and Build Relationships With Your Students – Jesus was always sharing with them who He was and what what He was here to do. He was growing them closer together but also closer to himself. For the sole purpose of building trust. Jesus knew that there would come a day that they would need to trust him and each other. I can tell you from experience that there will come a day that your life group students will need to trust the wisdom you give and know that it’s out of love and not judgement. They will also need the support and confidence of their group.
  2. Disciple IntentionallyBe Intentional With What You Teach and Do – Jesus was intentional about what He taught and also how He challenged the disciples. When Jesus taught the sermon on the mount He intentionally used verbiage that the people already knew so that His words would resonate with them. He intentionally used those words to relate to them so they would hear him and follow. Think about the ways you can be intentional with what you teach. Don’t just teach, speak intentionally to the hearts of your students. How can you challenge them intentionally? You don’t want to just throw ideas at that wall and hope one stick. Have some intentional conversations with God and also with them so you can challenge them in areas that would benefit them for sure.
  3. Disciple the Potential – I feel super strong about seeing the potential in students, I may do a whole post on this topic alone. I see it as a non-negotiable in youth ministry. Jesus chose the disciples based on what he saw in them. He saw three fisherman and a tax collector as world changers preaching the gospel way before the did any of that. He saw a christian killing machine like Paul as someone who would change the world way before he did any planting of churches or writing of the scriptures. Disciple the potential of your students and don’t allow their present circumstance to sway what you see in them.

I got the chance to let our small group leaders know that how you disciple is super important. And again,  I’m not talking about method or structure, I’m talking about in principle. There are a million methods out there and they are all great in their own right, but Jesus gave us some principles that can be used no matter what the method or the structure looks like.

Would love for the youth ministry nation to weigh-in. What  are some other principles Jesus Christ displayed that we can use to disciple our students?

hope it helps

ac



movie-reel-popcorn

I saw a movie last night. A really good movie. A tough movie. A movie about mostly good people simply struggling to find their way.

Somehow it made me think about the “movie” of junior highers. It’s a good movie. A tough movie. A movie about mostly good people simply struggling to find their way. Here are a bunch of random thoughts that raced through my head as I drove home last night:

- I wonder if the whole “entitled generation” thing is mostly overblown? Sure, the upper middle class teenagers in our culture have had a lot of stuff handed to them, and feel entitled in lots of ways and to lots of things. But a huge percentage of our population consists of people, junior highers among them, who are hard working, tough minded folks simply trying to figure out how to make their way.

- There’s almost always a story behind the “story”. There’s a reason a student is acting out. There’s a story behind her defensive posture. There’s something below the surface that manifests in his poor grades and distant attitude.

- Family is a big part of the story. For good and for bad, families carry the majority of the influence in the lives of the junior highers in our ministries. I wonder if we sometimes, while pushing the “good” families to have more and more impact, if we forget the fact that some of our students are being impacted in devastating ways by those who should love them the most.

- Life is a journey. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong. And nobody has a more “up and down” record of getting things right, then wrong, then right, then wrong again than junior highers! We can help them learn how to make wise choices, but the realities of life and their immature brains often lead them to make choices they shouldn’t.

- We can’t fix every problem; even when we know how! This one is tough. But the reality is that there will be students, families and scenarios that are simply beyond your ability to fix. You may know what’s wrong, and how to help…but sometimes it won’t matter. Some students aren’t ready for help, don’t really want it, feel like they are beyond it or simply don’t know what to do with the lifeline we toss their way.

- I’m a wimp. Okay, this one has nothing to do with junior high ministry but it’s the first thought that popped into my mind as the credits began to roll, and it’s the first thing I admitted to my buddies: “Guys, one thing this movie taught me is that I’m a sissy…no matter how I act, I’m really just a wimp!” My life was a little bit of a struggle growing up, but not really. And any “toughness” I once had has been diminished by my upper middle class, Starbucks drinking, SUV driving, Orange County living, beach bumming, gym membership lifestyle. Compared to so many, my life is a picnic…all day, every day.

What’s the movie? I’m not gonna tell you because then you’ll go see it and walk away thinking, “Man, that movie had NOTHING to do with junior high ministry!” And you’d be right.

But the first person…other than my buddies or people who already know what movie I’m talking about….to correctly guess the title in the comments below will win a 5-pack of the great new book, 99 Thoughts for Junior Highers!

blue-three-300x299I love the craziness of large groups where I get to see a bunch a students at once. I love mowing through giving hugs and high fives and randomly having greeting tribal dance offs with students. haha Another element that I love is having one on one time with students where we get to talk about Jesus and life. I think for a lot of youth workers this is an area that they may struggle with or not be as comfortable with as they want to be. I wrote a post a while ago that deals with the importance of why these three things matter to me. Go here to check it out!!! So I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned that has helped me in one on one situations.

1. Take Control - Even though you want the student to share more than you, take control and facilitate. You will probably start off making small talk which is great and sometimes the only thing needed, but sometimes you want to guide the conversation to an area they may need to get some guidance or prayer. I’ve found that students expect you to stir the conversation. I’ve also learned that my influence in their life grows, when I show genuine concern for the good and the bad in their life. Here’s an example of something I’ll do: Instead of just asking them how’s life, I’ll say let’s have a seat and then I’ll be specific about the areas I want to hear about. You will be surprised with the response you get. If they don’t have time I’ll say “great, let’s get together this week or I’ll say “I’ll catch you on Facebook.” I’ll leave a message with specific questions for them to answer. Again, you will be surprised at the response. Just a caution: when communicating over social media always think about context. My rule of thumb is “communicate as if their parents are sitting right by their side as they read what you’re sending.

 

2. Use Discernment - Every time you get the opportunity to talk one on one with a student consider it a golden moment. I’ve learned that you can burn that moment very quickly if you are not discerning of when to push them and when to let it go. Every conversation doesn’t have to be a come to Jesus moment. Like I said, sometimes small talk is all that’s needed and you need to be able to discern that. You also need to be able to discern when they need to hear the truth of God’s word.

 

3. Pray With Them – I know this sounds like a no brainer but I don’t think we can stress this enough. What we pray for with our students sends a signal concerning what God cares about. If we only pray about the big stuff with them then we are modeling that God only cares about the big stuff. God cares about the test they have that’s stressing them out. God cares about them performing at their best for a game that they have. He cares about it all. We need to model that to them. So look in all areas in which you can pray for them. I always hear people say God’s got bigger things in this world to care about than my little situation. I always wonder who modeled such a small view of God to them.

 

I could’ve listed more but I really wanted to zero in on the top three things that helps me get the most out of the time I spend with students. I have a lot of fun hanging with students but I also know that they need more than just fun. They need Jesus and that’s the primary assignment God has given me being in youth ministry. So what has helped you connect with students better?

 

hope it helps

ac 

@aaroncrumbeyAC



I surprised Kurt this week with a rapid fire Q&A. I wanted him to tap into his 20 plus years of experience. Here’s the list of questions. 1.Balance ministry and life? 2.Ask for more budget or a budget? 3.New position, new church what do I do first? 4.Staff dating each other? 5.Regain trust after a moral failure? 6.Stress of ministry? 7.Disruptive volunteer/parent/student?

Leave questions or topics you would love to hear us discuss in the comment section or email us at talkaboutym@gmail.com.

hope it helps

ac & kurt

lets talkWe’ve all had conversations that we wish we didn’t have to have. The reason tough conversations are so tough is because they are awkward, unpredictable and we want to be liked by all and happy. So Kurt and I give two tips each on how to navigate these types of conversations.

I know there are more so I would love for you to leave a tip, and help the simply youth ministry nation become better at tough conversations.

Also, can someone teach Kurt how to do a proper drum roll. I don’t think a drum roll makes that sound. ha

hope it helps

AC & KURT



UncommonWisdomfrontcoverWith your permission, I’d like to share an adaption of the introduction to my book “Uncommon Wisdom from the Other Side: A Senior Pastor Talks Youth Ministry.”

Not because I want to sell you a book
(although, feel free to buy one).

I want to share something so important that I wrote it there, and have written it here.

 


medic4Thank you for signing up to reach the next generation.

Your heart will gain scars.

You’ll be misled by others.

Close friends will seemingly abandon you.

The resources may run out.

You may fake your faith some days for the sake of others.

Simple things Christians say will annoy you.

The church you serve may appear two-dimensional in your three-dimensional stress.

Students will let you down.

You will disciple at least one Judas.

People will say all kinds of unkind things about you and your family.

And it is the best possible way to live.

medic3It would be easier to just pat you on the back, but you need to know what you’re being patted into.

The reason it’s called “ministry” is because someone is needed to “minister”-which implies a gap exists that needs filling. You may occasionally get applause for doing this, but if you’re looking for it you have things backward.

Trouble will hit.

Relational blood will be spilled.

People you expect to be medics will at times be holding the knife.

And you’ll at times be one of the guilty parties.

medic5If you can see this for what it is and enter the chaos glued to Jesus, you’ll unearth questions about church and ministry you didn’t realize existed.

You’ll also see some things about God you’d like to change, such as how he gets to call the shots on good days and bad days. You’ll later treasure these things because when you aren’t able to answer the “what happens next” question, you’ll start focusing on the “who can I love who is in front of me now” question.

That’s the question that really matters more, anyway.

It’s going to be ugly. Anytime something full of life is born,
there is a big, bloody mess.

Why do we forget this and whine about it when it happens?

Then again… perhaps you feel OK with ministry today and are nodding, assuming you’re ready for whatever comes next.

  • Will you keep nodding when your spouse is about to experience a nervous breakdown because of your “calling”?
  • Will you keep nodding when your own walk with God feels drier than it’s ever been and you have another message to deliver?
  • Will you keep nodding when the bliss of working inside the four walls of a church starts to feel like solitary confinement?

Such hardships may not dominate, but there will likely be seasons when everything seems crazy and Jesus will need you to help redeem even the “redeemed.”

  • This is where what you preach finally gets owned.
  • This is where your faith moves from practical ideas about living to oxygen when you’re suffocating.
  • This is where you take on Satan, not out of adrenaline, but out of Jesus.

medic2Consider this line from C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters where one demon counsels another on wearing down a man who has given himself to their “enemy” God:

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

It’s not my aim to destroy your faith but to ground it in the Lord before it gets destroyed. Ministry will give you every circumstance to abandon what you’re doing because there’s always a seemingly nicer job at a store or restaurant down the street where you can clock in and clock out.

Then again, perhaps you weren’t made to clock in and clock out.

Maybe (just maybe) you will deny yourself, carry your cross, follow Jesus, and experience a resurrection in this generation.

(Note the order of that sentence. It’s what turns you into a battlefield medic for the Church.)

Doing that will unearth more of God than you feel prepared for, which in turn will make you run off screaming or surrendered on your own cross, because you finally see students like he does.

Because youth ministry is ugly and beautiful… all at the same time.

 

Thank you for loving students!

Tony

@tonymyles

*Love Tony’s insight on service and youth ministry? Receive his articles every Tuesday when you sign up for the SYM Today Newsletter!*

Spooky_Oct2013_630x200

Hey friends!

Below is another fantastic post from Junior High Ministry Veteran, Scott Rubin.

thinkerIt seemed like a great idea.
Bringing six 7th grade boys to the food pantry to serve under-resourced people in our community. Help them appreciate what they’ve been given. Grow a little compassion in their hearts. Do you see where this is going?

My mood might have been 2% down at the start, after getting an email from a mom a couple hours before. She was basically scolding me for not including her email address on my communication about the night’s details I’d sent 2 weeks before, and again 2 days before. I had sent the email to her husband’s address, but apparently sometimes he doesn’t forward them to her. My bad.

It was great to see all the guys as they arrived, and we goofed around for a few minutes before I pulled them all to the side to give them a real short “vision pep talk” about what we’d be doing and why. I felt like I was really rallying the troops for this night of service! One of the 6 put his hand up to stop me; I was ready for him to make an insightful observation about our serving. His comment? “I can juggle”. Ok! Glad we’re getting pumped up about helping neighbors in need.

Things started out decently; the “regular adult volunteers” at the pantry were really happy to have some extra help from our guys. We got assigned to pack some vegetables first. We had fun while we did it – and it was good to catch up with each of the guys. Our shift was only about 90 minutes … but after about 45, some complaining started. “I’m hungry!” “Didn’t you eat before you came?” “Yeah, but that was like 2 hours ago!” OK… I’m glad we’re getting the point of serving people who are really hungry. And then “I don’t want to touch those carrots. They’re wet! I hate carrots. Can’t we do something else?? Why do those guys get to do that, while we have to do this?”

Now without bragging, I’ve got to tell you that I’m pretty good with middle schoolers. Redirecting, refocusing, listening & adjusting. But for most of these guys, nothing was working. I really was feeling like this night was failing. At one point, I honestly wondered “Why am I doing this? There are plenty of other things I could be doing.”

But… there were 2 of the 6 who were almost completely dialed in, the whole night. When we took a break midway through, and I walked them around the facility showing them how it all worked, these two kept eye contact with me, and were really engaged, even if they didn’t say much. And they were trying their middle school best to not just help, but to help the other guys stay on task. But you know what I wanted? I wanted all 6 of them to be motivated like that. I didn’t want 4 pulling the other 2 into goofy-land. So it felt like “mostly failure” to me.

I don’t have a neat little tie-it-up-in-a-bow ending for this post. But on the way home, I felt like God was telling me, “I did more than you could see in those 2 seventh graders. And maybe in the other 4, as well.”

What feels like failure isn’t always failure…right? Right?