Vol. 5 Issue 20 | May 17, 2019
Three Things This Week
1. Senior Fever
What it is: As seniors approach their last few days of high school, we face a startling realization: This summer is possibly the last time they’ll ever live under our roofs.
Why it’s an opportunity: It’s easy to get so busy having fun or making preparations that the summer passes us by before we know it, but it’s important to take time to slow down, to reflect on what’s ending, and to dream about what’s to come with our graduates. But it’s also the perfect opportunity to ask strategic questions. In this blog, LeaderTreks Youth Ministry encourages all adults who work with seniors to ask five questions to make sure they’re prepared spiritually to enter the next stage of life. Take some time now to read the post, then ask your senior the questions. You still have time to plant spiritual seeds that will grow with them in their faith journey.
2. Help Me Choose: Death or Life?
What it is: A 16-year-old girl in Malaysia took her own life this week after 69% of responders to her Instagram poll said she should choose death, not life.
Why it’s heartbreaking: We don’t know how many people responded, what their ages were, or what their motives were. But it’s plausible that many of them were her peers (around her age), and it’s not so far fetched to think that many of them thought her poll wasn’t serious or that choosing “death” would be funny. Clearly, this is no laughing matter. We must teach our children how to recognize cries for help and to take them seriously every time; someone’s life is on the line. Ask them to consider what one lawyer asked: “Would the girl still be alive today if the majority of netizens…discouraged her from taking her own life?” Your teens could be the difference someone in their community needs.
3. Tea for 2 (Million)
What it is: The rise of influencers seems to have increased our appetite for gossip, but it’s no longer TMZ, E! News, and People spilling the tea—it’s often teenagers.
Why it’s unhealthy: Tea (slang for gossip) accounts on YouTube and Instagram are multiplying, and for good reason: They can make lots of money. But unlike traditional gossip outlets, these tea accounts give up-to-the-minute, super in-depth details by scouring social media and the internet for info and even by encouraging the drama through jumping on feuds, posting live follower counts, and even working with influencers to garner views. As a teen, it can be really exciting to have a platform, to be heard, to watch and comment on the drama, but gossip is just another form of bullying. Building an audience on that foundation will only lead to pain and misery for everyone involved. For more about how to talk about this trend and gossip in general, check out our Bullying Conversation Kit.
Spotlight: We’re building our video team! If you know a college student who is studying film or is interested in video, tell them to apply for the video internship at Axis. They can email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply or to learn more.
In response to different states passing legislation that bans most abortions, a new hashtag has emerged: #YouKnowMe. Started by actress Busy Philipps, it’s meant to encourage the 1 in 4 women (a statistic she mentions but doesn’t source) who’ve had an abortion to tell their stories. In response, many other celebs have opened up on Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms about their abortion experiences, with reasons ranging from life-threatening complications to rape to “preserv[ing] their careers or limit[ing] their growing families.”
And all of it is stirring up major feelings in me (and most likely in your daughters as well).
Even though I was raised in a Christian home and in all sorts of ministries throughout my life, I willingly became sexually active at the age of 17. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t care; I just really liked my boyfriend and really wanted to sleep with him. And because I didn’t know how to acquire protection without my parents finding out, I was sexually active for over a year with zero birth control. So naturally, getting pregnant was a constant worry.
And all of this was in the Internet’s early stages—before social media existed—so I didn’t have hashtags popping up and offering narratives in support of different ideas. I knew abortion took a life, but I decided that if I got pregnant I would have one anyway to keep my family and community from finding out because I believed they would shame and shun me.
Thanks to God’s grace, I never got pregnant and never had to make that choice. But your teenagers may currently be exactly where I was then, possibly with even more influence from outside sources than I had. Sure, they may be active in church, been told sex outside of marriage is wrong and that abortion is wrong, and even told you they’re on board with all of it—but so did I. It’s easy to say all the right things, but it’s a whole different thing to live by them when emotions, fears, desires, and media are thrown in.
So rather than getting into the politics surrounding this conversation, view this as a chance to love and connect with your teenagers. Do you know what they actually believe about sex and abortion? Do you know that they actually live by those beliefs? If they disagree with your beliefs, do you know why they do? Do they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no sin, no mistake, no wrong decision could cause you to shame or shun or stop loving them?
It’s when our kids feel safe, loved, and understood that we have the best ability to disciple and mentor them. And if they (or their girlfriends) find out they’re pregnant, shouldn’t we want them to come to us first? By showing unconditional love in everyday, small things, they will trust us when they’re afraid or don’t know what to do.
Keep the faith!
The Axis Team