The First Two Weeks

 

© 2014 Kevin Dooley, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

During the first two weeks of college, your child is facing much bigger issues than getting lost on campus, and running out of clean underwear.   Kara Powell and Chap Clark in their book Sticky Faith say, “Over and over, students have told us that the first two weeks at college are when they make key decisions about drinking and other high-risk behaviors, right along with choosing whether to go to church or to a campus ministry.”  (Powell and Clark)

In a college setting, social groups are quickly formed often based on where you live, and involvement (sport teams, music groups, or other interest groups).  The warm friendly smiles that you receive on campus while visiting, quickly fade as people are no longer looking for more friends.  Petrified of being left alone, students often make decisions based on their need for social connection.

Students quickly learn that their decisions about alcohol and other behavior will quickly ostracize them from others.  It doesn’t take too many evenings left alone in the dorm before feelings of loneliness can overwhelm even the deepest resolve.

How do you prepare a student for those first two weeks?

1.  Teach them to walk across the room and extend a hand.  Teaching your child basic skills in how to make new friends is crucial for this new phase of life.  Many adolescents face little change in their circle of friends during high school, and have forgotten how to make new friends.  Encouraging your adolescent to always be looking for new friends will help them keep their social skills, and prepare them for the future.  As a child moves away from home, emerging adults meet their first test, whether than can develop their own community.

2.  Teach them how to find a Spiritual Community.  Most adolescents have never picked out a church before.  They don’t know what questions to ask, or what to look for?  Your child might be overwhelmed by the available options, and not try.  According to Sticky Faith Research,  “40% of students feel prepared to find a new church.”  Parents need to prepare their child for find a new Christian community.

Use on-line tools to help your student check out churches around their campus.  LiveAbove.com is an outreach of the Youth Transition Network: a coalition of youth, college and military ministries working together to transition students from high school to college/career  (For more information about YTN go to www.youthtransitionnetwork.org).

3.  Remember last minute cramming, isn’t very helpful.  One emerging adult said, “I really appreciated that they didn’t give me a bunch of last minute “advice” about how to live life on my own. I feel like the drop off is not the time or place! If they want to give me life lessons, giving nagging reminders as they drop me off isn’t the best!”

It is not the absence of information that causes students to make poor decisions, it is often the lack of will.  The prophet Isaiah makes this point when he says,  “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”   Even though you are not with them, your child will hear your voice as they are making their own decisions.

First2Weeks_v1 (1)4.  Pray, and ask others to join you during this time.  Pray for godly influences including:  friends, ministries, and other adults.  Encourage your church community to do a prayer campaign for college students during the fall as students are leaving for school.  Join our prayer campaign.

Ultimately, you have no control over the first two weeks or any week of your child’s experiences at college.  You can only surrender yourself, and your child to the Lord in prayer.  This is what makes the first two weeks so very difficult.

Resources

Powell, Kara and Chap Clark.  Sticky Faith:  Everyday ideas to build lasting faith in your kids.

Top questions to ask college students before they head to school

Fall is upon us, and student will soon be packing their bags and leaving for college.  If your child is leaving, Kara Powell from the Fuller Youth Institute released this article about preparing your child for college.  Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary.

When our oldest started high school, multiple older parents told me that high school would fly by. I didn’t believe them, but now that Nathan is diving into eleventh grade, I’ve jumped on the “high school goes so fast” bandwagon.

Here is the full article! 

Pass it along to someone you know is dropping off a student this fall.

If you work with emerging adults, please join Kara and other members of the Fuller Youth Institute as members of the EA Network – a networking site on Facebook.

Other resources:

 

Faith in the Home – Spiritual Conversations with your Emerging Adult

Research done among youth group participants by Fuller Institute revealed only 12% of mothers have regular dialogue with their children about spiritual or life issues.  Only 5% of teenagers reported that their fathers have regular dialogue with them regarding spiritual or life issues.

The lack of communication in our homes about our faith is clearly an obstacle to the passing on of our faith and a cause of the Millennial Exodus.

Most of us are familiar with our responsibility as parents to imprint our faith upon our offspring.  Deuteronomy 6:6-7 states…

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 

However, being a spiritual leader in the home is not always easy.

Many parents struggle with addressing spirituality within the home.  Some parents struggle because it was never modeled for them, or feel as if they are not equipped.  The main reason that parents don’t talk to their children about faith is because they are afraid. 

Yes.  Fear shuts down the conversation before it even begins.

We fear how our child may respond either through statements, questions, or actions.  As parents, we fear that our child may reject the faith that we believe – and that their unbelief means that they are rejecting us.

Another source of this fear could be that our child might struggle with the same doubts that we ourselves possess.  Most Christians do not like facing our doubts, but we try to ignore or bury them in other activity.  We know the “church answers” or party-line responses for our doubt, but those pesky doubts linger.  Instead of leading our child on this pathway of faith, we give our children the glib responses that we don’t truly believe.

While making spiritual conversations with your children doesn’t take a lot of training, it does take courage.

  • Be courageous – step out and speak to your child about their spiritual lives and beliefs.
  • Sit back and listen.  Don’t attempt to answer all their questions, or solve all their doubt.  As a parent of an adolescent or emerging adult, you should not be looking to convert them or change their beliefs.  You should seek understanding for yourself, and encourage them.  Adult children do not want you to preach at them.  If you seek to change them, these conversations will always end in conflict.  If you seek to listen to them, these conversations will lead to a deeper fuller relationship with your emerging adult.
  • Speak to your journey – trials, failures, victories, and hopes.  Share with your child your own experiences, while acknowledging their autonomy to make their own decisions.
  • Reflect and pray.  Don’t express your concerns to your child, but express your thoughts through praying to God.  Process what you hear with your spouse or friends.  Having community with others who are parenting emerging adults is essential for maintaining your sanity.
  • Repeat. 

May God grant you the faith and courage you need to faithfully parent your emerging adult children.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder of EA Resources.  He has a passion to encourage parents of emerging adults, and faith communities who want to minister to their needs.  If he can help your community, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

 

Quite a Few ‘Emerging Adults’ Are Smoking Pot Every Day

I found this article concerning marijuana use among emerging adults – and wanted to pass it along.

 

Credit: Rafael Castillo

Recently, The Lancet published the first-ever report of marijuana use by Americans aged 12 and over between 2002 and 2014 using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The data and a discussion of their public health implications are included as part of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A lot changed, marijuana-wise, between 2002 and 2014. State laws related to marijuana loosened considerably. Public support for legalization climbed significantly. And public perception of risk of using marijuana dropped off. How have these changes affected marijuana use and addiction?

Here is the complete article.

Almost 7% of emerging adults report using marijuana on a DAILY basis.  Those who report alcohol abuse is about 12%.  As those who minister to emerging adults, we need to be aware of this trend, and know how to respond.

The rise of marijuana and alcohol in this life phase could be due to several factors including:

  • newly acquired income
  • access to the “forbidden fruit” as they step into adulthood
  • independence from family
  • stress due to their high mobility rate and characteristics of this life phase

The article encourages those around them to ask them about marijuana use.

 

 

 

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

When it comes to responding to the Millennial Exodus, churches rarely know how to respond.  Many churches seek answers from bloggers who seem obsessed with talking about tight pants and fog machines.

Atheist from Flickr via Wylio

© 2013 JouWatch, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

It is crucial that the church stop listening to themselves, and start listening to millennials who have left.  EA Resources actually is willing to pay for millennials who will take the time to express why they have left the church.  If you know someone who is willing to share, please tag them in article, and they can contact me at gdavid@earesources.org.

Here is an article that encourages us to listen to Atheists about why they left in order to strengthen the church.  Happy reading –

“Church became all about ceremony, handholding, and kumbaya,” Phil said with a look of disgust. “I missed my old youth pastor. He actually knew the Bible.” 

I have known a lot of atheists. The late Christopher Hitchens was a friend with whom I debated, road tripped, and even had a lengthy private Bible study.

Here is the full article – LINK.

What do you think about these points?

  • They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions.
  • They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously.
  • Ages 14-17 were decisive.
  • The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one.
  • The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism.

As millennials leave the church, we must understand that their exit is rarely something that comes without thought or cost.  Their decision to embrace unbelief is a journey that has stretched their social, emotional and mental stamina.

If Dr. Boyd can assist your community in how to minister to emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

Are Emerging Adults “Spiritual, but not Religious”?

I recently wrote about a conversation with a millennial, and his explanation of what this expression means.

If you are new to this expression, and would like to do a little reading, here is a resource from Patricia Snell Herzog who is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  She is a contributing author of Souls in Transition and Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood.

Here are some highlights of the article.

  •  RAAS (religious and also spiritual), RBNS (religious but not spiritual), SBNR (spiritual but not religious), and NRNS (not religious, not spiritual). The answer is that there are emerging adults in each of these four types, such that some emerging adults are SBNR and others are not.
  • Most spiritual-but-not-religious (SBnr) emerging adults believe in a higher power. Many attended religious services at one point in time, but have either lost interest in them or become antithetical to the religious approaches to which they were exposed.

Understanding the different types of “Spiritual, but not Religious” is crucial because in order to approach an emerging adult with the gospel, you need to understand how think, and what exactly they believe.  If you are looking for a good read, check out Generation Ex-Christian:  Why Young Christians are Leaving the Faith and How to Bring them Back  by Drew Dyck.

If you are looking to teach/share the concept of “Spiritual, but not religious” with a group, here is a lesson plan by the Institute for Faith and Learning.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Director of EA Resources, a nonprofit designed to equip churches and parents to minister to the needs of emerging adults.

 

Financing College – Taking Time to Laugh

Financing college can be difficult and stressful.  If you are in the midst of putting together a plan to finance an education, take some time to laugh.  Here is a great clip from the Middle, a show that is a must-watch for parents of emerging adults.

Check out this clip from the Middle.

Here are some additional articles that talk about finances.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, and the Founder of the EA Network.  If he can help your community understand and minister to emerging adults, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

The Millennial Exodus in Scotland

The steady decline of Church of Scotland membership to some 360,000 persons is well documented. It is therefore no surprise that linkages, closures and reduction in number from the prevailing 46 presbyteries are envisaged. However, the main challenge is the alarming lack of young adults attending church. In many congregations perhaps 70 per cent will be 60 years of age and more. It is no longer one generation missing, but two. This is the emergency which must be addressed even before the present structure of presbyteries is considered. Continue reading

Preparing for Adolescence/Directions to Adulthood Seminars

I am excited about my double-header workshops for parents.  Both workshops tie into my parental E-VAC Plan (or how to one day get them to evacuate!)  The E-VAC plan focuses on the three developmental tasks of adulthood:  Vocation, Autonomy, and Community.

 

These seminars are designed for parents of children, adolescents, and emerging adults, who want to understand more about human development, and how to prepare their children for the Journey Ahead.

Here are the workshop descriptions:

Preparing for Adolescence:

We will examine the facts and fables of human adolescence.  You will gain an understanding of the developmental characteristics of adolescents and discuss how to equip them for adulthood.  We will discuss practical methods of impacting your child’s spiritual development that will give them a faith that will stick beyond high school.  You will walk away feeling equipped and encouraged in your own journey as a parent.       

Directions to Adulthood – Preparing them for the Journey Ahead

Why does it seem that adolescents are taking longer to grow up?  We will examine the causes of delayed development, and solutions being proposed.  We will examine the biblical basis of adulthood, and how parents can help adolescents successfully move forward.  This seminar will help you better understand your children, and encourage you during this new phase of parenting.      

If you are interested in having Dr. Boyd come and speak to your community, please contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

Theology on Tap – To Drink or Not to Drink

While hosting a Theology on Tap ministry may or may not fit your church context, here is an article that discusses how one church has found a way to connect with emerging adults.  It also provides an introduction that all churches must answer regarding how to approach drinking alcohol among emerging adults.

EFFINGHAM — Glasses filled with wine and other alcoholic beverages were scattered atop a dimly lit table in Village Wine in Effingham. It’s an unsuspecting setting for prayer and religious discussion, but that’s what happened there on Jan. 19.

And it’s what happens there every third Thursday of the month for “Theology on Tap” meetings. The gatherings bring religion to young people in a relaxed environment.

Click Here for the entire article.

Scroll down for highlights.

Theology on Tap

Here are some highlights of the article:

  • “It’s a way to meet other young adults without needing the party scene,”  Highlights Emerging Adults need for Community
  • “Too many people don’t see the beauty in them,” she said. “The potential in them. The mystery.”
  • “Theology on Tap is something a lot of churches around the world have adapted to reach young people. It brings people together in a responsible way.”

If you work with emerging adults, you will be working alongside both adolescents (who cannot legally drink) and those over the legal drinking age.  As a ministry you will be challenged to establish policy and practices on what role drinking can have within your community.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you lead your community:

  • How can we allow autonomy among emerging adults concerning this issue?
  • What role(s) can drinking alcohol play in our community?
  • Does your religious community have any policies regarding this issue among other adults?
  • How do we identify when drinking as a group or for an individual might need addressed?
  • Does your religious community have a policy regarding this issue among adolescents?  How should it be the same?  How should it be different?
  • Is there a difference in policy and practice from when a gathering is attending/organized directly by a church representative than when community members organize their own outings?
  • What values are driving our decisions?

I am sure there are more questions, please share your thoughts/questions below.

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip parents and the church to minister to the needs of emerging adults.