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Main Session #3 at the Preteen & Parent Retreat was led by Dr. Robert Lewis, author of Raising a Modern Day Knight and founder of Men’s Fraternity. I’m convinced that you could drop Dr. Lewis in any culture to talk about any topic, and he would inspire that audience and leave them wanting more. I know that our parents could have sat for hours discussing the topics that he brought up. Here are notes from his session:

Stay humble and know that to be a good parent you will always have to be in the posture of a learner.

Barna, “most parents assume they know what to do”

Here are some helpful things to remember in parenting:

1. 75% of all great parenting is a good marriage. (Build your marriage!!)

  • 40% of kids don’t have dad at home
  • Single parent homes, poorer health, poorer jobs, sexually active, drugs and alcohol more present
  • Two parent homes with poor marriage will have same characteristics as single parent home.
  • In the 50’s homes were not child-centered.  Today we are child-focused not marriage or home focused
  • Little parenting in the Bible, but a lot on marriage. (ex. Ephesians has 12 verses on marriage and 1 on parenting.)
  • A good marriage leads to good kids

2. Always keep the long-term in view when parenting

  • What is the long view? Where you as a parent’s primary focus is on character and Christ
  • You cannot make their popularity your major view
  • Contrast Tim Tebow vs Tiger Woods
  • Write down what you want them to be (know Jesus, loving, giving, responsible, loyal friend, others focused, etc). Will they be a difference maker or a problem?  Ask God to help you find ways to help instill these character traits.

3. Seek to balance discipline and instruction with love as a parent

  • Four quadrant figure from Men’s Fraternity (permissive, neglectful, authoritative, authoritarian)
  • Authoritative is high discipline and high love.  This is the best parent
  • Number 2 is the permissive which is high love and low discipline
  • Number 3 is neglectful…low discipline and low love
  • Number 4 is authoritarian…high discipline and low love
  • Ephesians 6:4 Fathers do not provoke your children to anger
  • “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased!!!” 6 times in the Gospels
  • Boys are looking for their Dad to say they are good enough

4. It is smart to sharpen and customize your parenting approach to each child by using objective testing tools

  • You will need help knowing your child.  You are not objective.
  • The more we know about our child’s uniqueness the better we will parent them
  • Today good testing mechanisms: personality, design, aptitude, and intelligence tests
  • First test is personality test. Robert uses melancholy, sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic. by Florence Letour
  • You don’t ever change your personality
  • aptitude test is a must before college (Aims aptitude testing)
  • Design test in High school
  • Intelligence testing will be done in school

5. Real Christianity for a child is caught or lost at home

  • Do not become dependent on the church for your child’s Christianity
  • Paul said follow me as a follow Christ. Should be the model of your home!!
  • Number one thing of families is to be open and honest in communication, especially about your Christianity
  • Don’t pretend and live different from what you say.  Kids will sniff that out and it will inoculate them against Christianity
  • Be authentic!!!

6. Avoid the four horseman of “Too Much”

  • Too much control.  Micromanaging a child 12 to 18 will kill them.  “I will trust you until you prove me wrong”
  • Too much money and stuff spoils and pacifies
  • Too much of high expectations discourages and wounds
  • Too much taking care of. Too much care in sons will steal their masculinity. Moms have to unplug the mom cord when they turn 12 or 13.

7. Spend lots of personal time with your child one on one

  • They will have unbelievable doubts from their friends, and quality time will help them.
  • Date your daughter

8. Provide clear gender vision

  • Focus on sexually, socially, and spiritually
  • Bless them by answering what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman.
  • Need a Biblical Definition of manhood and womanhood

Part 2 of an amazing weekend was a Parent Meeting to cast vision for the future of preteen ministry at our Church. Our church is embarking on a new journey to be a church that is…

making disciples who live by God’s grace and for His glory at home and across the world.

While striving to accomplish this mission, there are certain values that will define who Fellowship is as a church. These values are: Connection, Transformation, and Multiplication.

As preteen ministry, we want to align with this vision and these values. This means change—exciting change.

We had over 250 parents show up for the meeting. Some had heard rumors of change, some were completely oblivious, and many had helped us pray and plan for this day. With the parents and the preteens in the room, we officially launched Fifty6, our new preteen ministry.

I have to admit that we were nervous about the change and communicating that to parents. The church has had a great preteen ministry long before I came, and I didn’t want to them to feel like I was running it into the ground. As we communicated the vision, the room filled up with excitement. Parents caught the vision and they bought in.

Here are three things we communicated to help parents “buy-in” to the vision for preteen ministry:

1. Information
To help parents see where we were going, we literally walked them through every detail of what a Sunday morning would look like. We intentionally scheduled the meeting in the space that will become our preteen ministry space—even though it currently smells like gym socks! We gave them a detailed time schedule for what a Sunday morning would look like for their preteen. And then we gave them a 2 year scope and sequence for the curriculum that we are currently writing. We wanted them to know everything we knew about what preteen ministry would look like moving forward. As G.I. Joe says, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!”

2. 6th Grade Leadership Team
This is more than a curriculum or room change, this is a philosophy change. We are viewing 5th and 6th graders differently than we have in the past. One aspect of that is the ability for 6th graders to lead and serve on our campus. We communicated our vision for 6th grader to be a part of a Leadership Team that serves by leading worship, running production tech, greeting guests, setting up, etc. The preteens were jumping at the chance to fill out an application. Parents bought in to the vision because many of them had never seen their preteen that excited about coming to church!

3. Parent Involvement
A huge part of the philosophy change is a better strategy for partnering with parents. We talked with parents about how we partner with them to cover tough subjects like sex, pornography, substance abuse, relationships, etc. Our role is not to have that conversation with preteens, but to equip parents to have that conversation with preteens. We wanted parents to understand that our ministry exists primarily to strengthen their relationship with their preteen so that they can transfer faith to their son or daughter.

How do you cast vision to parents, volunteers, or preteens in your ministry?

This past weekend was a powerful one. Saturday, we hosted a retreat for preteens and parents. We had 36 families attend what turned out to be a very powerful day. Then on Sunday, we met with over 200 parents to cast vision for the future of preteen ministry. The room was buzzing with excitement!

Each event was significant enough to talk about for hours, so I’m breaking this post into two parts. Part one is all about the Preteen/Parent Retreat.

Our prayer for the weekend was to connect preteens and their parents in powerful conversations about life and faith. We petitioned God to show up, and He did in a powerful way.

Here is a copy of the schedule and handouts we used for the day. I’ve also included my notes for the talks that I gave in Session 1 and Session 2. (I also have Prezi presentations for Session #1 and Session #2, if you’re interested)

Preteen Retreat Handout
Main Session 1–Communication
Main Session 2–Letting Go of the Bike

 

Main Session #1: Communication
In the first session, we began with a game of “Telephone.” Round 1 was complete chaos. We had 80s music blaring, the repeated message was just ridiculous, and you could only whisper it to the next person once. Needless to say, the message was lost in translation.

Round 2 was different. We kept the room completely silent and had each team repeat a simple message out loud as many times as needed. They could also write the message down and pass it on. Of course, the message easily passed through the line.

Round 1 is much like our lives: chaos, distractions, and a failure to repeat important messages. Round 2 is what preteens need: clear message, repeated often, sometimes even in writing. The game was the perfect segway into a talk on communication.

We focused on very practical steps for parents to carve out time to talk about the important things with their son or daughter. Parents and preteens worked together to choose 3 times that were best for them to talk with one another. Then we gave them 3 important topics to talk about with preteens: Life (day-to-day events), Faith (where do you see God in the dad-to-day events), and Prayer (pray for and with one another).

We closed the session by asking families to create a calendar that included their specific talk times and talk topics. They put the dates on paper and made a commitment to one another to honor those talk times for the month of May. Our prayer is that committing to one month will lead to long-term commitment.

 

Main Session #2: Letting Go of the Bike
The second session was all about the philosophy of “Letting Go of the Bike” from FourFiveSix.org.

We started in a fun way with a bike race. We put parents on toddler bikes and watched them race through the parking lot. Before the race, we had every parent hand over their camera phone to their preteen. It was so cool to watch them snapping picture after picture of their parents!



In the session, we talked to parents about how to help their preteens take ownership of their faith. It was a great conversation! Several parents were hearing their preteens discuss their views on faith for the first time. They had some great ideas for how to live out faith in their home and in their community. As a practical example, we had preteens shout out attributes of God—loving, powerful, all-knowing, provider. Then we had each family pick one attribute of God and share how they saw Him be that in their lives. Dads, Moms, and Preteens were all sharing ways that they have seen God move in and around them. So cool!

 

Main Session #3: Dr. Robert Lewis
After lunch, I took preteens outside to just run off some pent-up energy. Meanwhile, parents got to hear Dr. Robert Lewis, founder of Men’s Fraternity and author of Raising a Modern Day Knight, share about parenting. He dropped so much wisdom that I will share in another post. After an hour and a half, the parents were begging him to keep going and give them more!

 

Closing Ceremony
We closed the day with a very special activity. We gave every individual a pen and piece of stationary, and we asked them to write a letter. Preteens wrote a letter to their parent(s) with three parts: thanksgiving for their parents, a plea for them to stay involved and lead them, and a prayer for their future relationship.



Likewise, parents wrote a letter to their preteens telling them how much they love and value them, the characteristics that pray their child has at 18, and a spiritual blessing for their child. After the letters were written, the families reconnected and had a special time to read the letter to one another.

This was a very special moment to end on. At one point, I looked out a window and saw a dad and daughter clinched in a bear hug. I went on doing something else for about 5 minutes, and when I looked up again they were still in that bear hug. She had tears streaming down her face, and she just wouldn’t let go of her Dad.

We wanted to connect the hearts of preteens and parents in this unique stage of life, and we prayed that God would do more than we could ask, think, or imagine.

He did. He definitely did.


Monday mornings are always full of evaluations and questions for me. It’s a time to review the previous weekend’s services and plan for the next. This week is packed full of busyness and just happens to be filled with more questions than normal. So, I’m asking for help.

Here is the list of my Monday morning questions. Please send me a tweet or leave a comment with your answer.

    If you could take preteens & parents away for 1 weekend and have their complete attention, what would you tell them?

    What are the top communication blockers for preteens and parents?

    What are 3 things most parents may not understand about their preteen?

    If you’re the parent of a preteen or teen, what do you wish the church would do to help you?

    What is a creative way to get families talking and interacting around faith-based topics?

If you’ve led a parent retreat, I’d love to talk with you. We are launching our Preteen & Parent Retreat in 2 weeks and I’d love to run our ideas by you. Exciting things are ahead and I can’t wait to see what God will do!