July 31, 2014

By Fred Koenig

I’m an expert at boys ages 10 and under. Aside from having 10 years of experience at being one myself, I’ve also, together with my wife, raised two. If you need to know something about boys, from about the third grade on down, just call me up. 
   
The problem is, my eldest is 13. I know nothing whatsoever about raising teenage boys. Just ask my teenager, he’ll tell you. I just don’t understand. 
    
Sure, I was a teenage boy once myself, but I wasn’t particularly good it at. Most of my parenting peers are in the same boat, and we often feel like that boat is sinking. 
    
Don’t get me wrong, my sons are good kids. I think many parents would gladly swap me. I’m less concerned about their ability to be good teenagers, as I am my ability to be a good father of teenagers. 
    
So I went to the library and checked out some books on parenting. I’ll admit, I hadn’t done this in several years. When my wife was pregnant, and when the boys were babies, I read a lot of parenting books, but once they matured into pre-school age, I went on auto-pilot. 
    
I was astounded at what I read in these books. They were quoting the things my own son was saying to me verbatim.  It was as though he had read the same books six months prior, and was using them to craft his dialogue. 
    
My learnings so far – it is right for him to desire more independence and respect. My role is to change from controlling and protecting to helping him develop and mature. The book has showed me that my son doesn’t have an attitude, he’s just maturing right on schedule. The feelings he has about his parents shifting from adoration to humiliation is a natural thing. 
    
Looking beyond ourselves for guidance has become a bit of a mantra in the Missouri Conference. You can find books on practically anything. Most of the Conference leaders now have bookshelves filled with books on leadership, ministry, outreach, revitalization and other topics that churches face. On page 25 Brian Hammons talks a bit about things going on to help develop leaders. 
    
A few years ago the Missouri Conference started shifting the approach of trying to reach college students from a function of the Conference through campus ministers to a function of local churches located in proximity to college campuses. 
  
As you’ll see on the map on pages 10 – 11, many have already developed. This issue brings you the story of a couple of them – a relatively new ministry for college-age people in Liberty called C2, and a mature, well developed ministry at Southeast Missouri State University called Ignite. None claim to have it all figured out, but many are boldly moving forward in working on ways to include the next generation in the church today. 
    
It is my hope with every issue of this magazine that you might find something that will be helpful when your church is faced with a changing situation, and you need to learn to do something new. You’re not going to get a complete how-to guide, but you may find a way to connect with someone who might be able to assist you in developing the next way your church will be making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.