“Helping Parents Understand the Formative Influences on the Teen” Seminars

Most of you are aware that I am currently working on my D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the “Ministry to Emerging Generations” track.  As I’ve been reading and studying I’ve growing increasingly convinced that Youth Pastors (and churches, in general) need to do a better job motivating, equipping, and empowering parents to disciple their kids (especially through the teen years).  Therefore, my focus throughout this program will culminate in writing a thesis I’m provisionally entitling, “Motivating, Equipping, and Empowering Parents of Teenagers for 21st Century Discipleship.” There are three basic phases I’ll be working through in this study: two one-year projects and then the final writing process.

For my first project (this year, 2011), I hope to develop a series of six seminars in order to help parents understand the “formative influences” on your teenagers.  I don’t need to tell you how confusing (and confused) teenagers can be.  I hope to provide some insight into the different influences that help shape and form teenagers, these include: Basics of Postmodernity (how culture has changed in the past 30-40 years and how that’s impacting the younger generations); Developmental Psychology (what’s happening to their bodies physically, mentally, and emotionally and how that impacts their decision-making); and the influence of Media (how has TV, Movies, Music, Advertisements, and Video Games influenced youth-culture, and how can you help your son/daughter safely and “Christianly” navigate through all the media in their lives).  This year’s focus is primarily on Culture and helping parents understand the culture their kids live in, because in many ways they live in a different world than the one in which we live.

In 1 Corinthians 9:22 the Apostle Paul writes, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” This tells me that Paul worked to understand the people he was seeking to minister to as well as he possibly could.  We would be wise to follow Paul’s example.  Since we love our teenagers and sincerely desire to see them grounded in the Gospel and in love with Jesus Christ it would be wise of us to understand them as well as we possibly can.  Please do not read this and think, “I know my son better than you realize!” and dismiss what I’m saying, because I’m not accusing parents of being negligent or naive.  I simply want to provide the opportunity for parents to come together and dig deeper into these “formative influences” that are competing with you to shape your son or daughter.

These seminars are designed specifically for parents of teenagers, but would also be helpful to parents whose children will soon be teens as well as other adults (grandparents, teachers, etc.) who want to better understand teenagers and youth culture.

There will likely be three seminars before the end of the ’10-’11 School-year and the other three will be at the beginning of the ’11-’12 School-year.  Please give me your input through the following Poll regarding the scheduling of these seminars.

Update (2/22/11): Here’s the schedule for the first few seminars and a tentative outline for what the six seminars will address.

  1. March 13: Influences on Teens & the Parents’ Role in their Children’s Christian Formation
  2. April 3: Culture Shift – from Modern to Postmodern Thinking
  3. May 1: Not a Kid, Not an Adult – Responding to Developmental Theorists
  4. October: Listening to Youth Culture, pt. 1 (Internet, Technology, & Cell Phones)
  5. November: Listening to Youth Culture, pt. 2 (Music, Celebrities, & MTV)
  6. December: Listening to Youth Culture, pt. 3 (TV, Movies, & Video Games)

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