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Aaron Crumbey(AC) oversees pastoral care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. Runs yoacblog a blog for students. Connect with him on Twitter @_yoac

youthgroup_logoHere are a few topics I believe we as youth workers need to speak on in our ministries. I do believe that the increase in the statistics of these areas is largely due to social media. So as you read through think about how is social media affecting these areas and how can you affectively address them in your ministry. Notice that I don’t give solutions, because I believe every youth group is different and you know your students better. I wrote this to hopefully open our eyes a bit to what could potentially be going on in our youth groups.

  1. Bullying: (Source: stageoflife.com) – Bullying is still prevalent as it has always been, but with social media it has increased. Now students can be bullied 24 hours around the clock. 91% admit to being a victim of bullying.
  2. Texting and Social Media: (Source: stageoflife.com) – 57% of teens credit their mobile device with improving their life. They also see it as key to their social life. The average teen spent 31 hours a week online which is like 5 hours a day via a poll done in 2009. I can imagine that number has grown with the infusion of smart phones.
  3. Sex: (Source: diseasecontrolcenter) – 47.4% of the students surveyed had sexual intercourse and out of the 47.4% that had sex 39.8% of those students did not use protection. 15.3% admitted to having sex with 4 or more people during their lifetime.
  4. Drugs and Alcohol: (Source: SADD) – Statistically 72% of all students will have consumed alcohol by the end of high school. 37% have done so before the eighth grade. 6.7% of teens between the ages of 12-17 have smoked marijuana.
  5. Body Image: (source: stageoflife.com) – More than 90% percent of all girls between the ages 15-17 want to change their appearance. Body weight is ranking the highest. 13% admit to having an eating disorder. 7 out of 10 girls believe they don’t measure up or they’re not good enough concerning their looks, performance in school and relationships. 12% of teen boys are using unproven supplements and/or steroids to improve their body image. 44% of teens use skipping meals as a way to lose or control their weight.
  6. Depression: Students are dealing with depression. From the severe to the not so severe, at any rate they are dealing with it. The NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) states that 1 in 5 teens have experienced depression.
  7. The Future: (Source: stageoflife.com) – 66% of teens are afraid of the future or life after graduation.

Now, I’m not a huge statistics type of person, but I do believe it paints somewhat of a picture for you and I to internalize into our own ministries. When I look at the numbers, I think, “how would these numbers fair in my ministry?”

Now, I know that there are more than 7 issues, and I also can tell you that these things are happening in my ministry. And if you were to take an honest look into your ministry you would probably say the same. I hope there isn’t anyone out there thinking that none of this is going on in their ministry.

Praying for students and telling them not to do something is not enough.

So the question is, what are some ways, with a Biblical perspective, that we can educate and open up dialogue about these topics with students and parents?

My first suggestion would be to share this with parents and let them know you are here to support students and families that are going through these things.

hope it helps

ac

34 COMMENTS

  • Jody says:

    Great thoughts Aaron. I would add self-harm and pornography to the list as well. These two issues are so prevalent for our ministry. Of course they could easily be addresses as a part of some of those you mentioned. Many times some of the things you have listed are the very things that lead students I counsel to these. Thanks for the post.

    • Great add Jody. I’m glad that we are talking about them instead of acting like they don’t exist in the church, because they do.

      • Alonzo says:

        Aaron, Can not agree more with this statement. Such a fact that allot Youth Groups are running from.

        I’m glad that we are talking about them instead of acting like they don’t exist in the church, because they do.

        • You are definitely right. I think a lot of times churches just aren’t prepared to deal with them. So they’d rather not bring them up. I think we must talk about them and help students who are struggling. Thanks for your comment!!

  • Robski says:

    Where I live, youth pastors have to get at least 5 of those topics approved by the church leadership AND THEN get written permission from all of the parents to speak on these things. Failure to complete the procedure leads to disciplinary action and parents threatening to remove their children from youth events.

    One downside is that the procedure usually doesn’t get finished, and the topic must be dropped. Or the parents decide that this is their job and refuse permission. Either way, the children then don’t get the advice that they need.

    • Robski, I’m praying for you… Keep your head up and remeber that all things are possible!

      • ditto Andrew!!!!

        Robski,
        Instead of doing a series on these topics. What if you did a workshop and made it available to the parents and students. That way parents that need some wisdom on these topics can get it, and you aren’t exposing the whole youth group to it.

    • Wow. This is disheartening.

      Is there a particular background that you are from?

    • Danny says:

      It might be worth trying to have a separate gathering for these topics. If you let your students know what your “Hot Topics” class is all about then they can choose whether or not to let their teen participate. They can see this as an elective and still have the student come to regular youth meetings. If a few students find such a class helpful and meaningful, others may hear about it and join in when their parents feel they have the maturity to participate. This would set up the dynamic where you only have to get the approval the one time when you establish the class and the onus is on the parents to choose whether or not to have their students participate rather than having one or two parents disctate what the whole group can discuss.

    • Soupchop says:

      Sounds more like a public school system then an actual church. I find this to be extremely discouraging.

      What is the church affiliation?

      • Ade says:

        I think you forget that the church is a school. young people nowadays have various and numerous sources of information and advice to these issues, ones which aren’t necessarily right or helpful in leading a happy life. Don’t you think we as a church owe it to them to provide our truth, shine a light on it and make it available for all that are willing to listen. I believe that is the least we can do, and as Christians, that is what we are asked to do by our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • I will be doing a series on bullying with our students in the near future. SYM or anyone else, can you direct me to resources that will assist me in preparing for the subject?

  • Justin Brewer says:

    Wow Aaron…. I think you just helped me figure out the first series of the new year! Thanks bro!

    • That’s awesome Justin!!! Sometimes we have to expose those things that are done in secret before people start talking about them. We’ve done a series called “Secrets” and you would be amazed at the fact that students want to talk to someone, but they just don’t know how or they feel ashamed so they keep it to themselves. I pray your series starts some much needed dialogues so that healing can start to take place.

  • Evan Stewart says:

    Thanks so much for bringing this into focus with statistical data. I have long estimated something somewhat lower than this, but find this totally within the realm of truth. No matter how good you think your youth are, this is truly the most likely representation of the secret life of the american teenager, regardless of demographic.

  • Brian says:

    I would add that “belief in God” are also essentials.I find that students are wrestling with the other issues listed above, in part, because their faith is not central to their worldview.

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  • Andy Bailey says:

    This is some good stuff to talk about to my youth.

  • Jennifer says:

    Great article! I really feel blessed & burdened at the same time … the parents of the kids I am blessed to minister to … DO NOT CARE … what their kids are doing as long as they are out of their way. They could care less what I’m talking to them about. So, in a way … it is a blessing because the kids really open up about these topics & God is able to speak through us into their lives.

    My heart breaks that the students, (approx 70), that attend our Wednesday night program … are from un-churched families. We are doing all we can to reach their parents. Our prayer is that through the salvations of these students … their families will be saved.

    One topic we tackle is Media like TV, Movies & Magazines.

    Thanks again, and God bless….

    • Thanks Jennifer,
      Keep praying for your students parents. I’ve seen God do the miraculous in that area. We also have a large group of students whose parents aren’t believers. Know that prayer changes things so keep praying.

      ac

  • grace says:

    Thanks for this add., this helps me a lot :)

  • Rhett Gedies says:

    I don’t want to be the downer or anything….but most of these topics are the “do’s and don’ts” of the Christian faith.

    Our youth group gets compliments for digging into Biblical concepts based upon the Scriptures. The Do’s and Don’ts are occasionally necessary, yes. But I think we are missing the foundation knowledge/Biblical concepts in the youth groups of America overall. An immersed understanding and grasp of the Bible and its truths, solves topic 1-6 itself.

    Focusing too much on simply “don’t do this, don’t do that” easily turns teen’s concept of the Christian faith into rule keeping, based on their misinterpretation. The Word of God, should be our focus, the rest is cultural and will change when we let the Bible change us.

    • First of all thank for your feedback, its much appreciated. I would have to respectfully disagree. These topics are not just do’s and don’ts. I think for years some of these topics have been taboo in church, and the result of us not talking about them has done more damage than good. Just because a student grows up in the church hearing scripture scripture scripture doesn’t mean they don’t struggle, and the church should be the safest place to talk about any issue. I also think starting the conversation first is key. Students need practical biblical wisdom on how to deal with them. I think when we speak out on these topics, it gives students confidence to speak out also. I do agree that we need to be teaching biblical concepts from scripture, and I also agree that we need to be teaching foundational truths. And I believe we can do those things in the context of the topics mentioned in the post.

      I understand where you are coming from and I agree, but I don’t believe This post is your target.

  • Thank You!?Thank You! & Thank You! again for posting this!!! I’ve been told that these sort of topics aren’t popular to talk about in youth ministry.
    I am blown away by the fact that kids are dealing with these issues, but we have church ostriches with their heads in the sand.
    We have to talk about this with our students & be pro active & be active in being preventative. Otherwise we will lose these kids.
    Yes teach the Bible, but bring it to where the kids are.
    Please note my husband & I are Pastors of Forefront Ministries, but I also facilitate San Diego Mission Team. Please check out our website. SDMT discusses these & more issues at our annual summit. SDMT equips & provides tools for youth workers. We are holding our next summit Oct. 10, 2015. It will be 8 am-12:30 pm @ Pt. Loma Nazarene University. This year we are talking about gang & bullying issues. We also have resources available on most of the subjects you brought up.
    Please try to come to this summit & meet other like minded people.

  • SUJATA JAYAPRAKASH says:

    I think in current times it is important to talk to the youth about being “Godly Role models” “Stand for Biblical Values” “Contentment” “Socializing”

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