Social media is the place where all the world’s a stage and you—a grown adult—find yourself playing understudy to the next generation. Hey, we get it. As soon as you get a grasp on Facebook or Instagram they announce another big change. And new social media platforms are popping up all the time.
You might be tempted to just stay away from social media, but then you’d miss out on some big opportunities for connection.
If you want to grow in relationship with your teen, you have to be willing to meet them when, where and how they need you. That includes social media. But before we can tackle how, we need to start with why.
Why do teens love social media?
Today’s high schoolers are busy. Sports and extracurriculars, AP courses, after-school jobs, internships, volunteer activities and SAT prep more-than fill up a semester. A scroll through Instagram gives students a chance to relax, breathe and maybe even laugh a little.
Social media isn’t just a means to community in the eyes of of a teen. It is community. When you choose to value community on their terms you set yourself up as a guide for positive social media experiences.
One of the incredible things about a relationship with God is the way He has something unique to show us at every phase. Just like the same dad would respond differently to his three-year-old than his 13-year-old, our heavenly Father seems to respond in different ways at different times so we can better understand how completely He loves us. High school is a time to test the limits. They are ready for new experiences and desire greater independence from authority.
Teenagers who think like philosophers look for principles that will give their story meaning. They relate to a God who guides their decisions, promotes love and forgiveness, empowers their freedom, enables them to live more fully, moves them toward a greater purpose and identity, and connects them to a bigger story.
Here are three ideas to help high schoolers mature in their relationship with God:
1. Give an application.
Don’t let the term philosopher confuse you. High schoolers want more than theory. They want to know what is helpful for life right now. The best way to help a high schooler remember what you say is to say something they can do this week. Then maybe post what you said to their social media channel mid-week just as a reminder. Continue reading “3 Ways to Help High Schoolers Relate to God”→
If anyone has gone deep in student ministry, it’s Dr. Duffy Robbins. A longtime friend of Orange, he serves as Professor of Youth Ministry at Eastern University and has a 35-year-history in working with teenagers. Duffy’s warm, conversational style and quick sense of humor have placed him in high demand for everything from Bible camps to music festivals. In fact, his resume spans so many publications, conferences and even international locations it might just give your brain whiplash. But what matters most to us at the Phase Project? Duffy Robbins doesn’t just work with teens—he truly loves building relationships with them.
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses addressed the nation of Israel and made a passionate plea to “impress” on the hearts of children core truths that relate to God’s character. Some translations use the phrase “teach diligently.” The phrase can also be translated to mean “to cause to learn.” He wasn’t advocating a lecture-based, Torah literacy program where a teacher’s responsibility ended once they presented the content.
What Moses knew was this. The role of a leader is not to simply present accurate information. The role of a leader is to keep presenting, to keep translating, to keep creating experiences until someone has learned what they need to know.
So your job is simple.
Know what can be expected of them and know how they think so they will hear what you say and know what to do.
ZERO TO ONE
Mental: The brain has 100 billion neurons (roughly the number of stars in the Milky Way), more than at any other time in life
Physical: Double their birth weight and learning to roll over
ONE & TWO
Mental:Understands roughly 70 words and learning to walk
Physical:Has grown to half their adult height and can follow two-part instructions
If no volunteer can ever know what a parent knows, when why recruit anyone to help with kids and teenagers?
It would definitely make things easier if you could just tell parents, “Since you know more than we can ever know, and you have more time than we will ever have, and you care about this more than we ever will, this is really up to you as the parent.”
You could also misquote Deuteronomy 6 to convince parents it’s their job alone, not the church’s to raise their kids. Just skip the part of the text where Moses speaks to every leader in the crowd (not just parents).
Moses was actually the first guy with the idea, “It takes a village.”
Sure, parents should be the primary influence in their kid’s lives.