Tag Archives: adolescence

Book Review: The Orphaned Generation

I recently had the opportunity to review a new book.  I highly recommend it for parents, youthworkers, church leaders—just about anyone who has or will have an adolescent in their lives.  A simple, but powerful read.

Youthworker.com  – The Orphaned Generation

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Links to think about…


Next week I’ll be in one of my favorite environments once again—surrounded by students from middle school and high school.  As I return to the field work of youth ministry, I keep stumbling across articles that remind me there are kids in places where adults are not going to help them.

All adolescents need many caring adults to step on the road of maturity with them to offer guidance, help and encouragement.  But, sadly, there are kids who never benefit from even one adult mentor or guide all through adolescence.  I want to make room in my life to help an adolescent who has no one.

As you read any or all of these links, maybe you’ll be asking yourself the same question I’m asking myself:  “God, where are the kids that need me to go to them?”

Foster Kids Gain From Mentoring, Relationship Skills – Business Week

Emergency Department Visits for Drug Related Suicide Attempts by Adolescents – The DAWN Report

Groups Promote Juvenile Justice – Youthworker.com

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More Research about Extended Adolescence

This is the kind of stuff we talk about in Mile Marker discussions.  For parents, it’s so helpful to see how vastly different the adolescent experience is for their kids in duration and experience.  For youth workers, it helps us understand that ministry to adolescents may not be “over” when they graduate high school—or even when they graduate from college.  They may not need us to plan outlandish, crazy games, or take them to summer camp.  But, they do need adults who are a season or two ahead of them in their lives to look to for guidance, encouragement, mentoring and practical resources (like teaching money management).

Long Road to Adulthood is Growing Even Longer

Baby boomers have long been considered the generation that did not want to grow up, perpetual adolescents even as they become eligible for Social Security. Now, a growing body of research shows that the real Peter Pans are not the boomers, but the generations that have followed. For many, by choice or circumstance, independence no longer begins at 21…read more

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Review of Mile Markers: A Path for Nurturing Adolescent Faith | YouthWorker.com


Duffy Robbins suggests that incarnational leadership requires us to be more signpost than salesperson, someone walking alongside adolescents helping them find the way rather than feeling the need to “make the sale” by securing another conversion. Denise McKinney provides parents and youth workers with some insight and practical ideas that will help make that purpose a reality…read more

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Take Mile Markers for a Spin!

Mile Markers:  A Path for Nurturing Adolescent Faith is the heart and soul of my youth ministry practices and personal ministry lessons from thirteen years of leading the student ministry at Redeemer Covenant Church in Tulsa, OK.
It’s based on a scriptural roadmap for walking alongside our spiritual and biological children as they travel the long, winding road of adolescence.
If you are a youth worker who wants a more organic approach to leading adolescents on their spiritual journey, this book can help you envision and practice that kind of ministry.
If you are a parent who wants to be more intentional about leading your kids spiritually, this book has helps, reminders and ideas to guide you.
If you know a friend for whom this would be a good read, you can spread the word!
So, I invite you to take a spin with this sample chapter of Mile Markers!  My hope is that you’ll be energized and eager to learn more!

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At 17

Here I find myself once again

Walking this lonely road

I’ve traveled miles without the hand of a friend

to share the journey

I’m not really all alone

But feel like I’m walking

with strangers who never feel like home

and don’t know my story.

DM 2008

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YMtoday.com: Faith Journey Gone Walkabout

Last week, I watched the movie Australia for the first time.  I was captivated by a very spiritual little boy in the story named Nullah, who was caught between the world of his Aboriginal mother and not-yet known white father.  Nullah reflects an abundance of childlike innocence and joy mixed with a deep understanding of pain and suffering even at the tender age of nine.  Not too far into the movie, his grandfather, who is an Aboriginal elder named King George, tells him it is time to go on his walkabout to become a man.  He is unable to go when King George first beckons him and throughout the movie, Nullah encounters all kinds of struggle, danger, and even good intentions that stand in the way of him taking this journey with his grandfather.

Like the walkabout for the Aboriginal culture, history is full of rites of passage experiences meant to help children cross the threshold from childhood to adulthood with purpose, discovery and celebration.  But Western culture seems to have lost the essence of milestone events that help a young person take purposeful and symbolic steps toward maturity.  Maybe it’s because the phenomenon of adolescence really only emerged in our world over the last century and its arrival has blurred our ability to help a young person recognize at what moment they actually become an adult.  It’s almost as if the experiences that used to help shape a young person’s identity and purpose have endured an identity crisis of their own. 

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Families Walking the Faith Walk…Together

The first weekend in March, I had the privilege to facilitate a retreat for a group of 5th & 6th grade students AND their parents.  It was a first time event for Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa and the staff leaders and I all agreed it was a tremendous experience for both kids and parents.  During a short dialogue with parents just before the final session, one father summed up what everyone was feeling, “Thank you for giving me twenty-four hours with my kid where there was no competition with the tv, nintendo ds or computer.”

Last spring, I spoke for a Mother/Daughter Retreat at New Life Ranch in Colcord, OK.  Both events gave moms and dads the chance to interact, play and love on their kids for a dedicated amount of time.  I came away from both events thinking I’d seen what some of our youth ministry should look more like, more often.  So, here are some ideas for planning an event that parents and children can experience together:

1.  Create memories.  That can happen through challenge activities like zip lines or adventure races.  They can be tangible in the form of making an event tshirt or decorating a keepsake memory box.  You can include a personal component like parents writing letters to their kids or planning a scripture prayer walk they take together.

2.  Keep things moving.  It was important for me to engage both parents and kids during the time I was teaching.  So, I adapted my typical speaking outline to include short, fun, and relevant breaks from the sound of my voice in their ears!  There was a mad lib intro at the beginning that they helped to fill in, a short rap from Fred Lynch’s The Script:  A Hip Hop Devotional Through the Book of John that some students and parents performed together, a few 5 minute segments to turn and dialogue about the topic and one quick parent/child creative writing assignment.  The best part is that we were able to get everyone tracking with the same themes and I didn’t even once look out and see a 5th or 6th grader squirm out of boredom!

3.  Build on the experience.  These kinds of events are the best launching pads for more good things to occur at home.  So, give parents and children a chance to reflect on what they will face at home together and commit to needed changes that have been recognized on the trip.  Also, send parents home with tools to keep spiritual conversations going with their children and maybe even an invitation to participate with their child in some kind of regular Bible Study or worship experience.

4.  Impose a hiatus on electronic devices.  Although you may not want to go nuts and completely ban bringing ipods, phones, and handheld gaming systems, you can certainly ask that all electronic devices be kept packed or stored until the vehicles depart from the retreat.  Another option for addressing internet and texting addictions would be to just pick a remote retreat location with absolutely no cell phone coverage or internet access!  Parents and even kids will appreciate this rule – eventually!  Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that when there was a real emergency requiring contact with the outside world at a camp, we just used the camp office phone!

5.  Offer a chance for kids and parents to vent a little.  I don’t mean a gripe session, but I do mean an opportunity for moms and dads to interact and receive encouragement for the crucial role they play in their kids’ lives.  And I also mean a gathering for kids to share frustrations and get new understanding on why their parents are the crazy way they are!  Adolescence is not for the faint of heart – for kids or parents – and the sooner we help them handle the obstacles they’ll encounter in a healthy way, the more they’ll be able to enjoy the journey together.

The most important thing is that we help students and parents experience Deuteronomy 6:4-9 together:

Attention, Israel! God, our God! God the one and only! Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.  (The Message)

I’d like to facilitate that kind of legacy in every family!

For more ideas on how parents and youth workers can walk the adolescent road with students  and create memories along the way, you can check out my book, Mile Markers: A Path for Nurturing Adolescent Faith (YS/Zondervan). You can also find out more on my website, www.denisemckinney.com or find me on Twitter.

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Great research for remembering how adolescents are wired

The Teen Brain:  It’s Just not Grown Up Yet

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Denise is interviewed by Matt Nightingale @ Mile Markers

Faithfully Dangerous: Denise McKinney: Mile Markers

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