Friday, January 11, 2008

Hornet's Nest--continued

Well, it's been a while since my last blog, and I have enjoyed the comments. Thanks to all engaged in this conversation. Let me start by saying this:

1) Homeschooling is a GREAT idea for some. I wish we were in the position to homeschool. I am in NO WAY opposed to homeschooling. However, being in favor of something does not negate one's ability to criticize.

2) I need to elaborate on my starting point, so everyone is on the same page. I began this conversation because I had some HS kids visit our base youth group; their dad then told me that they did not enjoy it because the "speaker" (not myself) didn't know what he was talking about. This is, in a word, untrue. I don't have speakers who don't know what they are talking about. It is this kind of attitude that I have seen in other HS, in Christian school proponents, and in public school proponents--I can't learn from people who don't meet my expectations exactly.

3) My goal here is NOT to bash HS, or public schoolers, or . . . . . ., but to learn how to meet the needs of HS in my youth group(s) and to learn how to engage them in the church's conversation as well.

Now, how do I answer all of the posts? That's a great question, and I'm to which I'm unsure of the answer. I'll do it like this--I'll post the name of the commenter, and then my comments to the commenter, and we'll go from there! Sound complicated? Good!

Chickadee--In my opinion, we ALWAYS swing too far, thus the constant reminder for humility in Scripture (something all Christians are generally short of).

EEEEMommy--You're welcome to come out ANY TIME, and we'll have this conversation over cinnamon rolls and cappucinos. Just don't laugh at me in uniform! Now, for your post . . . 1) "Socialization" a la public schoolers is not all bad. 2) I would define "socially mature" as able to relate to peers. Personally, it took me forever to get to that point. It's hard enough, but not learning to engage with one's peers socially makes it harder. Does it matter? I believe so, but mainly because I know it has to happen at some point in time, and it should happen under a parent's guidance, not when they go to college! We don't want to be in danger of raising culturally-irrelevant children, do we? So how do we "socialize" in good ways, and not in the bad? 3) As for not wanting to talk about boys, etc., Kayla is the same way. She's simply not interested. We have some HS friends (another Chaplain) whose girls feel the same way. However, can't we learn to change the conversation, or even learn how to engage appropriately? As for HS "kissing dating goodbye," my question is this--do they understand why they are kissing dating goodbye, or is it because it's the "Christian" thing to do. Knowing why allows them to engage and to keep it up (which I'm in favor of). Not knowing why causes too many kids (HS or otherwise) to go too far when "released" from their parent's protection. 4) There's a danger in saying that the culture is in all ways BAD. It's the same danger as saying all Christian music is good. Both statements are untrue. High School Musical? My kids can watch it. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman? My eldest could read it. Am I going to allow either without supervision and trying to think it through? I hope not. Am I a horrible Christian because I would allow it? There are those who would say so, but again, I'm in favor of teaching my children discernment by practicing it. Does everyone have to agree with me?! I wish!!! Are people horrible Christians if they don't? No. 5) As for HS not being used to being in a classroom environment, they need to learn to be. Almost every training I go to is classroom-based. Are you "complaining" about the classroom, or about the lack of relevance of the material? Two different things here. If you're talking about the lack of relevance of the material, then you should be talking to the Youth Minister and helping him find examples, etc., which ARE relevant. I know you know this, EEEEMommy, but engage with the Youth Minister.

Conservachick--A prideful attitude is already present in our sinful nature, and parents should be on the lookout for it. Unfortunately, it's usually more "caught" than "taught," and is certainly not relegated to HS alone. One question I have is this--are HS considered "spiritually elite?" I hope not.

Shindigs--You might know me too well! 1) I'm taking issue with the snobbery that I have seen in HS (as well as Christian schoolers, just by the way). 2) As HS parents are human just like the rest of us, then yes, I doubt any parent can raise balanced kids! We try . . . . 3) Who has the responsibility to train our kids? Why, the State, of course!!!!!

Just kidding. Naturally, parents do, as do the elders in a church, as does the church, as does the Family of God. As a former full-time Youth Minister, I both understand and take issue with the comment of "Young-Inexperience Youth Ministers." Are you saying that they have NOTHING to teach your children? I hope not. As a matter of fact, why do Christian parents have more issue with "Young-Inexperienced Youth Ministers" than they do with Senior Pastors who are blatantly sinning? God puts people in our lives from whom we can learn, and we do our children a disservice by not teaching them that principle. 4) Speaking at different levels is a part of the process. I see too many Christian parents telling their children, in words and actions, NOT to learn to speak on different levels. "Only those just like us have something to teach us" (James 2, anyone?) 5) A child may well be "socially-immature" when unable to relate to peers. As for having "fun," I'm speaking of the ability to enjoy fellowship without having to have a dissertation every time. Sometimes, we just need to enjoy being a Christian and enjoy being with our "brethren."

Anonymous--Relevance is important. Reaching out to the "sick" is important. Bearing fruit and NOT hiding our lamp is important. "Dumbing down" was nowhere implied. Higher standards are certainly called for. Pride is not. Favoritism is not. "Middle ground" does not imply compromised beliefs. It does, however, imply engaging in the conversation. Jesus may not have come to the middle, but He certainly came to Earth (much beyond the middle, wouldn't you agree?!). Jesus reached people where they are. Standing on an ivory tower and saying, "I can't learn from you; I can't talk with you; etc," is also not what Jesus did. It's great to stand aside and snub our noses at others who don't think like us, but I don't have time for that. I'd much rather teach my kids to learn to love others. PLEASE HEAR ME--homeschooling parents are not the only ones guilty of this, nor are ALL homeschooling families guilty of this, but I hear these same arguments from Christian School Educators, Homeschoolers, etc.

Taralynn819--Great comments! I wish I had written this in the first place!!! Let me point out just one comment: "The goal is finding common ground without compromising my faith in order to encourage other believers and to share Chris with the lost . . . if parents give their kids the tools, they have to entrust the outcome to the lord and not shelter them from the world." Thanks for sharing.

KYTransplants--I like stirring up trouble--it's a gift of mine!!! :) I don't actually feel "beat up," but engaged in great conversation.

Let me close with these questions--
1) How do I, as a minister, help homeschoolers (parents and students) to relate to other kids and other teachers and to the life of the Church as a whole?
2) How do we use the gifts of homeschoolers and their families in our groups?
3) Is there a way to "cross the divide" between HS and "others"?
4) How do I help HS learn to engage and relate without being dragged down?
5) How can YOU, as HS parents, help the rest of us to welcome your kids into our groups without a sigh and a worry that you will stand back and judge, not come alongside and help (which I have seen as well)?

Thanks for engaging in the conversation. If I have offended, I do apologize and ask for your forgiveness.

Peace and greetings,


EEEEMommy said...

I'm still thinking. It takes me a while sometimes. :)

Anonymous said...

I read both of your posts and it got me thinking. I am a homeschool grad. From the outside, you have some GREAT points. I have seen them myself and have worked on NOT being a Pharisee myself. But, I myself have been put off by other homeschoolers because I don't fit in their box.
I truly want the standards I have to be from my own heart and my relationship with God...and I think that is alot of the problem with the attitude--it is just a form of "godliness" and not a heart issue.
I think alot of homeschoolers don't see that rules aren't worth much if not taken to heart and a PERSONAL conviction--not everyone else's.

Thanks for the insight, I have been thinking on this for quite some time. I do hope I have not offended anyone in the past by my "pharisee" attitude. I am working on it.
God bless!

Anonymous said...

J.D. (Ohio)-- There are obviously no easy answers. My children are elementary age, so many of these issues are future for me, but the foundations are being set now. While very pro-HS, I also fear the animal because of issues similar to those expressed here. We are trying to guard against this happening. Time will tell...

Incidentally, I think we are using the word "middle" from different perspectives. I live in the "middle" of 2 neighbors that are not exactly role models for my sons. I relate to them every chance I get and try to look for whatever common ground I can to build a relationship on. I try to live deliberately differently, but my home certainly has no "ivory tower". But that's a bit of a diversion, not our main thread of conversation...

As to your closing questions, I don't have much to offer on 1-4.

(5) I would prefer to be known first as a family that tries to follow Christ, not by my educational "tag". Yes, we are HSers, but I am first a Dad who loves Jesus and my family and is attempting to raise spiritually minded AND culturally relevant kids, as, I think, are we all. HS is just my educational vehicle of choice. I consider "the Church" an invaluable tool. While not to Youth Group yet, I, personally, consider their teachers assets and team members and try to assist and work with them. I am also not afraid to call them on something if I disagree. A good parent-teacher relationship should welcome constructive input, properly presented (in both directions).

Perhaps it's not about HS versus non-HS. Perhaps prideful, elite kids are raised by judgemental, elite parents. Kids are a product of parenting. Maybe these types of parents just have a higher tendancy to be HS parents. Is it possible that it is not as much a product of education at all, but rather more related to parenting styles, in general? Not sure if thats an answer or a rabbit trail?

De'Etta said...


Clicking through cyberspace and I landed here. It seems that you are military as you mention base youth group. My dh is an Air Force chaplain of 13 years. This is our 19th year of homeschooling. You raise some good questions. I've seen some of what you discuss - as you conclude in Hornet's Nest 2 - spiritual pride, social immaturity is really not limited by educational choice.

First - I believe the whole pride/pharisee thing is all about the heart. We don't have a lot of external rules in our home...we teach and mentor and disciple our children's heart...and by the grace of God we've had 3 graduate and leave home...all love the Lord wholeheartedly....all relate just fine out in the big world...two are involved in ministry to their generation, one in college and a manager at his place of employment...."them's my credentials". ::snort:: I do see many parents think they can legistate or educate a relationship with God - it's all about heart. IF our children love the Lord with all their heart they may know more than others (as someone else said) but they will not be pharisees...they will not be prideful...God will have their hearts.

As to your questions: 1) How do I, as a minister, help homeschoolers (parents and students) to relate to other kids and other teachers and to the life of the Church as a whole?

Keeping in mind that it is the parents responsibility to be teaching these things, I think you can come alongside the parents. The best Club Beyond group we've belonged too was one where the leader had regular parent meetings. He shared his heart, we shared our suggestions - there was respect and teamwork. He took our boys out weekly in a small group setting and that relationship with him, as well as with the other boys in the small group, did MUCH to teach our introverted son to relate to his peers.

**2) How do we use the gifts of homeschoolers and their families in our groups?
Again in our favorite club beyond the leader had "youth leaders". Many homeschooled kids ended up on that team. They KNEW that the group was seeker friendly....but he utilized them. They met every other week and he taught them leadership skills. They became mentors to new believers in the group. It was amazing to watch. He allowed them to be different and not totally fit in the box...and the group really worked well. They were on the worship team, ran sound, picked up jr high kids and mentored in their small groups.

**3) Is there a way to "cross the divide" between HS and "others"?
I think it depends on leadership. If the leader has the attitude that the HS parents and students are troublemakers or strange (not that you do but we were in one group where that was the case) then the youth in the group will also feel that way. In the last 3 groups our youth have participated in...all military....there was NO division between the HS and PS youth. All my children still communicate with friends from those groups and most of them were not from hs famlies. Currently, our HS graduate helps as a mentor in our youth group on base. His brothers are in the group. We typically have the group over here doing whatever it is youth like to do at least every other week...there is no division. If we as leaders can foster unity among parents and various families in the chapel....the youth will follow. At least that is what I've observed.

**4) How do I help HS learn to engage and relate without being dragged down?
When our children have had a youth leader who had a vision that he communicated - they bought it and became his biggest helpers. When they've been in groups where the leader only was interested in attracting kids for fun and numbers (OPR line) they've not "related well". In the former case the leader had weekly meetings that were mostly fun and a bit devotional. He had weekly small groups whose goal was to disciple. He had bi-monthly groups for youth leadership that focused on indepth training, reading, other words my kids were right in there with the silly games, and skits and such....because they understood the reason and that was not ALL that the chapel offered the youth...they knew that there were other opportunities to dig deeper. They weren't dragged down to participate...they believed in the leader's vision and knew they had a vital part in helping him fulfill the vision to their generation. Of course, my children have never been taught that their heritage is something to make them prideful.

5) How can YOU, as HS parents, help the rest of us to welcome your kids into our groups without a sigh and a worry that you will stand back and judge, not come alongside and help (which I have seen as well)?

See...the come along side thing goes both ways. I think that homeschool parents need to KNOW the leaders and give them a chance to communicate their goals. We've had three homeschool families at this chapel assignment. All of them refused to even have their children try out our programs. Homeschooling parents do need to try to get to know the leadership, as do all parents. If the leader clearly states his vision then others will follow (including homeschoolers). Unfortunately, in this recent case the Chaplain really didn't have a vision for the children/youth and that was clearly communicated. At which point, he received no support. And chapels being what they are - there is always change in leadership.

I've seen chapel youth groups be wonderful places of acceptance for all....we ARE a diverse group anyway in a chapel and so one more diverse group doesn't seem to shake up the youth too much if the leadership can communicate that they are one group working towards one their peers. Yes, I've also seen chapel youth groups that were horrendous - just one - but if we had to do it over again our children would not have participated in that group. In the end a parent will have to be comfortable with the leadership - that seems to be a good place to begin to foster unity.

Goodness - I need to go find a spot to leave a quick comment. Honest, I'm not always this long winded....but you touched on a few topics that are near and dear...chapels, youth, homeschooling, pharisee-like behaviour and attitude in the church....