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Chris Fane's Student Ministry News

A youth ministry blog consisting of a collection of articles and notes related to
student / youth ministry. Gathered by Chris Fane of egadideas.com

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Shuttin' Er Down

Hey there... just letting you know that I'm shutting down the blog. I've been running it as an experiment for the past month or so and even with egadideas.com linking to it, it really hasn't gained any traction. It's averaging about 18 people a day. I guess people aren't looking for this kind of info so it's better if I just let it go. Thanks for coming by though...

- Chris

Monday, May 29, 2006

Christians Struggle to Share their Faith, According to Survey


According to a survey conducted with the Church Army and Premier Christian Radio, a majority of Christians do not find it easy to share their faith.

The survey was launched to test reaction concerning evangelism and faith sharing across the UK. The results concluded that Home Mission is seen as very important by 76% of respondents, but 47% often feel ill-equipped to share their faith.

David Coleman, the Communications Manager at Church Army said "It's exciting to find out that so many Christians want to share their faith. Home Mission is core to what Church Army does and Church Army Sunday provides a focus for us to encourage and equip Churches to get more involved in sharing faith through words and action."

"Premier's research has enabled us to gain a solid understanding of what Christians across all denominations are thinking about sharing their faith. We hope as a leading Christian home mission agency Churches will look to Church Army Evangelists to find examples effective ways to share faith in everyday situations."

Christians from a variety of denominations including Anglicans, Roman Catholics, free churches, Pentecostals, Baptists and Methodists reflecting the broad listenership of Premier joined the survey, which identified that 65% of respondents were aware of Church Army, although not so well informed about its focus on home mission and the theme for Church Army Sunday.

"We are in a unique position" commented Premier Chief Executive, Peter Kerridge "We are able to reach the whole of the Church, not just in London but across the entire country. It is Premier's responsibility to encourage the Christian community to take an active role in Home Mission. This is one of the key reasons we have selected Church Army as our Home Mission partners."

Church Army Sunday, supported by Premier Radio, will be held on September 24th 2006, where churches will have the opportunity to review Church Army's work and to consider providing prayerful or financial support. The theme of this year's Church Army Sunday is 'Get OUT More' - and to challenge churches to undertake an appropriate mission activity and make a difference in their community.


Baptists Divided Over Public School 'Exodus Mandate'


Two opposing voices are rising up among Baptist circles over the highly publicized 'exit strategy' from American public schools, setting the stage for another showdown at the upcoming Southern Baptist Annual meeting in June.

By the end of last week, more than 200 pastors, teachers and lay leaders signed onto a pastoral letter supporting public education that was issued a month ago. The letter, issued by the liberal Baptist Center for Ethics, called on supporters to pray for public schools and challenge religious voices that "demonize public education."

While the letter did not point fingers at any specific group, it referenced the call by some Southern Baptists for a mass exodus from public schools as the main need to support public education.

"Public education is ground zero in America's culture war," said Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics. "It's the place for fundamentalists where faith and science clash, church and state collide, racial/ethnic diversity and cultural purity war."

The movement for an "exit strategy" began two years ago amid rising concerns among conservative Southern Baptists over what they believed was an infiltration of the homosexual agenda in public schools.

While a resolution calling for a massive exodus failed to pass at the 2004 SBC annual meeting, a more toned-down resolution urging churches and parents to investigate their public schools was adopted in 2005.

Last month, the conservative "Exodus Mandate" announced that a resolution has been submitted for consideration at the 2006 SBC Annual Meeting calling for churches to "develop an exit strategy from the public schools that will give particular attention to the needs of orphans, single parents, and the disadvantaged."

"The resolution also urges the agencies of the Southern Baptists Convention to assist churches as they develop their exit strategies and commends Christians working in government schools," according to Exodus Mandate.

The resolution will have to be approved by the executive committee before it heads for a vote during the June 13-14 annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C. A simple majority would pass the resolution.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Sorry... back Monday!

Sorry for the lack of updates this week... it's been a ridiculously hectic few days. I'll be back Monday though!

- Chris

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

TheSource4YM.Com - Now faster and with riboflavin!

Jonathan's site would occassionally lag and slow down a fair bit when search for game ideas. They've just moved the site to a new server for a speed boost.

www.TheSource4YM.com is now faster, better, and more reliable!
Luckily... many of you didn't notice that we weren't!

I'm embarrassed, but in the past few months, our web site had been lagging on occasion. People would click on one of our buttons for free game ideas or curriculum... and wait... and wait.... and wait...

NOT ANY MORE! As traffic to our web site has increased, so has our need to expand. Last weekend we just made the switch! We took our entire web site and moved it to a faster, more reliable dedicated server. The site is more responsive and gives you what you need when you need it. This switch was made possible by invisible donors, so we don't need to ever charge you for our resources.

Our email is also more reliable. If you've emailed us in the last month and haven't heard back... please email us again. We lost quite a few emails in the switch (thanks to our old, unreliable web server).

We're glad to serve you even better. Free quality resources are our specialty. Thanks for using The Source as your resource for youth ministry!


Jonathan McKee
The Source for Youth Ministry

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Dark Side Of Teen Dating


Survey: One-In-Eleven Teens Suffers Physical Abusive Relationship

(CBS) Dating is an inevitable part of growing up for teenagers.

What parents and teens may not think about is the possibility of abuse.

A recent survey from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one-in-eleven high school students has been a victim of dating violence, such as hitting, slapping or other forms of physical abuse. Those teens are also much more likely to report binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fighting and sexual activity.

In response to these findings, the CDC launched an initiative called "Choose Respect. It's an effort to reduce youth dating violence.

Psychologist Ileana Arias heads the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

She stopped by The Early Show Monday to discuss warning signs that teens may be in an abusive relationship, and what parents can do about it.


PODCAST: StudentCAST 6 - Are You Ready For Summer?


In this episode we discuss the issue of preparing for summer in student ministry - especially as it relates to preparing for summer student camps or trips. We talk with several members of our Student Events team, here at LifeWay, about the ins and outs of preparing for camp, how to get your students and parents ready for your trip, as well as an inside look at the hearts and passions behind those who are responsible for bringing us Fuge camps & events each year. Find out how to obtain additional free camp-preparation resources for your student ministry as well.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Teen Girls Discuss Their Sex Lives


Is Oral Sex Really Sex, and How Do Boys Use Sex Against Girls?

May 17, 2006 — What happens when 14 teenage girls get together for a sleepover?

Naturally, they tell secrets about their lives, and some talk about their first sexual experiences.

"I didn't really like the person that I lost my virginity to," said Tiffany, one of the girls at the sleepover. "I'm kind of shaky about it. He really started ignoring me. And I was just, 'What the heck is your problem?' And then we got in a fistfight, and we stopped talking for seven months."

Watch "Primetime" Thursday, May 18, at 10 p.m. ET for more on teens and sex. On Thursday on ABCNEWS.com, we'll have the second part of this story on what parents really know about their teens' lives.

"Primetime," along with Seventeen magazine, recruited a group of girls to participate in a sleepover to talk about what sex means in their lives. Their parents also participated, by joining the group later to see what their daughters had said.

The parents said that, for the most part, they had an open relationship with their children and talked about sex.

According to an ABC News poll, about 90 percent of parents nationwide say they've spoken to their teens about sex. Only half of their teens agree. So whatever parents think is "the sex talk," it doesn't seem to register with their kids.

Atoosa Rubenstein, Seventeen's editor, says girls today are forced to grow up faster than in the past.

"Everybody always wants to be accepted by boys," Rubenstein said. "And everything is accelerated and more intensive. But I don't think it's any different than when we were younger and we wanted boys to like us. It's just today boys are asking them to do things that just weren't part of the picture back then."


Breathalyzers vs. Teen Drunk Driving


Parents Trying Ignition-Locking Devices In Vehicles As Deterrents

(CBS) More and more parents are breathing new life into an old problem: teens drinking and driving.

As The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports, nearly 17,000 people are killed by drunk drivers in the United States every year.

Frequently, courts order repeat offenders to install breathalyzers in their cars.

Now, Kauffman points out, some adults are volunteering to get them. And others are insisting their teenage sons and daughters have them installed in their vehicles.

Steve Carter calls the breathalyzer he bought on his own for his car "a constant reminder, you know, to keep myself sober."

The device won't let the car start if there's any alcohol in his system.

"I'm not invincible," Carter, who lives in Colorado Springs, told Kauffman, "and, if I continue behaving and continue drinking in this manner, it's gonna kill me."

Or, Kauffman observes, someone else.

She says Carter's been to jail three times for driving under the influence.

He describes his violations as, "High speeds; tried to take a 90 degree, you know, city block turn and slammed headlong into a building. … That could easily have been another person."

Carter admits he shudders to think about it.

"It seems to me," Kauffman surmised, "that what's going on here isn't the punishment aspect, after you've gotten in trouble. It's the prevention aspect?"

"Oh, absolutely," Carter confirmed. "I think people can follow my lead, and I think we'll have a lot fewer drunk driving deaths."


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Saudis Nix Pictures of Women in Newspapers


Saudi King Tells Newspapers to Stop Printing Pictures of Women As They Can Lead Youth Astray

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia May 16, 2006 (AP)— King Abdullah has told Saudi editors to stop publishing pictures of women as they could make young men go astray, newspapers reported Tuesday.

The king's directive, made in a meeting with local editors, caused surprise as the monarch has been regarded a quiet reformer since he took office in the ultra-conservative country last August.

In recent months, newspapers have published pictures of women always wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf to illustrate stories with increasing regularity. Usually the stories have had to do with women's issues. The papers have also started publishing a range of views on causes that are not generally accepted in Saudi Arabia such as women having the right to drive and vote.

The king told editors on Monday night that publishing a woman's picture for the world to see was inappropriate.

"One must think, do they want their daughter, their sister, or their wife to appear in this way. Of course, no one would accept this," the newspaper Okaz quoted Abdullah as saying.

"The youth are driven by emotion … and sometimes they can be lead astray. So, please, try to cut down on this," he said.

Although the king has broached topics such as women eventually acquiring driving licenses that were previously seen as nonstarters, his instruction to editors indicates that Islamic conservatives remain a powerful force in the kingdom and brake on reform.

The country adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Women are not allowed to vote and stand in municipal elections the only type of election permitted in the kingdom.


Teen abuse of prescription drugs grows


NEW YORK (AP) — Teen smoking and drinking continued to drop, but teenage abuse of prescription drugs has become "an entrenched behavior" that many parents fail to recognize, a survey released Tuesday showed.

For a third straight year, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America study showed that about 1 in 5 teens have tried prescription drug painkillers such as Vicodin or OxyContin to get high — about 4.5 million teens. It also indicated that many teens feel experimenting with prescription drugs is safer than illegal highs.

Forty percent said prescription medicines were "much safer" than illegal drugs, while 31% said there was "nothing wrong" with using prescription drugs "once in a while." The study further found that 29% of teens believe prescription pain relievers are non-addictive.

"It's really a case now of accepting the fact that it's here," Partnership President and CEO Steve Pasierb said. "Clearly, this is a true problem in American society."

Although this was the group's 18th annual survey, it marked only the third year of compiling figures on the abuse of legal drugs. In 2003, the study found 20% of teens had tried the prescription drugs Vicodin, OxyContin and Tylox. Over the next two years, the numbers remained fairly consistent.

Pasierb said it was a good sign that the prescription drug numbers had not increased, but warned parents that the source of drugs is now the family medicine cabinet more than any dealer. The study found 62% of teens said prescription pain relievers are easy to find at home. And 52% say prescription pain relievers are "available everywhere."

"That's why we're putting a lot of our attending on educating parents," Pasierb said. "They don't have a frame of reference in a lot of cases. This kind of behavior (prescription drug abuse) didn't exist when they were teens."

A study by the University of Michigan, released in December, also indicated that American teens were smoking less and using prescription drugs more. It found 1 in 10 high school seniors had experimented with prescription painkillers.

The Partnership survey put teen smoking at 22%, down from 23% last year and 42% in 1998. The number of teens drinking in the past 30 days was down from 33% last year to 31%; in 1998, the figure was 42%.

The 2005 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study surveyed more than 7,300 teens in grades 7 through 12, the largest ongoing analysis of teen drug-related attitudes toward drugs in the country. Its margin of error was plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

The non-profit Partnership for a Drug-Free America was launched in 1987.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Plan to get organized that actually works...


Abraham Lincoln said, “A goal properly set is halfway reached.” Let that sink in for a moment. I’m sure you, like me, are right now thinking...

I’m sick of these guilt-producing truisms. Let’s just forget about Lincoln and everything he ever said about goal-setting, and then move on with our messy, sometimes aimless, and often random lives.
I hope this little internal conversation serves as a pre-emptory strike against your inherent cynicism about goal-setting. Listen, I’m with you. But then again, I’m not. I believe goal-setting is not only essential to finding your head, but essential to your spiritual well-being. Setting goals has been one of the most important, if not the most important, spiritual disciplines I practice.

Got Goals?
If you have a problem with the word “goals,” banish it from your vocabulary. Instead, substitute a word you can swallow.
If you’re one of those who’s vehemently opposed to goal-setting, let’s frame it this way.

• Is it better to be intentional in raising children, or to just let things happen?
• Is it better to carefully select your financial investments, or to shake a Magic 8 Ball to determine where to put your retirement savings?

These, of course, are ridiculous examples. Everyone agrees that being intentional
in raising children or investing money is important. And I’ve yet to meet a youth worker who thinks intentionally building
relationships or training volunteers is a waste of time and energy. So use “intentional plans” or “strategic purposes” instead.


Church gives away iPods to draw new members


IPod Shuffle giveaways have been used to lure people to open bank accounts and buy cars and as bait by online hucksters. Well, now even churches are getting in on the craze.

Leaders of the Interfaith Unity Church, 1731 W. Baseline Road in Mesa, are hoping to capitalize on the gadget's popularity and entice people to try out their 10:30 a.m. Sunday service.

"What we really want to do is we want people to know that we want them to come, we want them to possibly shuffle in and soar out," the Rev. Julianne Lewis said. Lewis said whether someone wins the Shuffle or not, she hopes the church's message sticks with people and they continue to come back after the promotion ends June 11.

To win the iPod Shuffle you must be a congregation member at least 14 years old who also has a parent that is a member. If you're a guest of the church, you must be at least 18 years old. You must be present at the time of the drawing, and one winner per household.


Hank Hill on Church

I've seen this video clip show up in my inbox and on a couple of blogs. Thought it was a humourous and interesting commentary on church...


Monday, May 15, 2006

Clergy, Laity Differ on Church Spending Priorities


Protestant ministers and churchgoers were asked what they would do with an unexpected financial windfall in a new research study. Results showed unmatched top priorities between the clergy and the people in the pews when it comes to spending.

Released Wednesday, the study was conducted by Ellison Research, which took national samples of Protestant church ministers and lay people. The ministers surveyed were found to prioritize building, expanding or updating their church buildings and facilities as their top spending choice. In comparison to the 31 percent of clergy, only 17 percent of churchgoers agreed with making facilities their top funding priority.

Laity instead placed their first priorities on paying off debt and increasing social programs such as helping with homelessness or education. Updating facilities fell third on their list.

"It is particularly interesting that laity are three times as likely as clergy to say their first priority would be spending on social programs, and considerably less likely to put buildings and facilities as their top priority," said Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, in a released statement. "This doesn’t mean one side or the other is wrong – just that each group probably needs to understand the priorities of the other group more clearly. For instance, ministers may need to do a better job explaining why improved facilities should be a budgetary priority and will further the ministry effectiveness of the church.

"In the same way, members of the congregation may need to do more to facilitate church spending on social programs – including volunteering their own time and leadership to make this kind of outreach happen more often."

Ministers said they would next spend the financial windfall on increasing community evangelism activities (16 percent), paying off debt (12 percent), and adding staff (10 percent). Laity did not list evangelism as high as clergy. Eight percent of the surveyed lay people listed it as a top spending priority. Giving to foreign missions were at similar percentages with seven percent of clergy and eight percent of laity.

According to the research, pastors focus primarily on their local community with 16 percent versus seven percent who prioritize foreign missions and three percent on domestic evangelism. Overall, 26 percent of pastors say their first priority would be spending on evangelism and outreach of some type.

Lay people showed a more evenly divided percentage of around eight to nine percent among all three. In total, 25 percent placed evangelism and outreach as their first priority.

By denominational group, evangelical pastors were found to put a high priority on better facilities than mainline pastors who prioritize social programs more highly than the evangelical group. And pastors from larger churches are considerably more likely than others to make paying off debt a top priority.

Sellers concluded that pastors place the church before themselves especially when it comes to spending.

"Only one percent would raise staff pay or benefits, or increase staff training and education, as their top priority," he said. "Virtually all ministers are thinking first about their church, their community, or the world at large before their own needs or desires."

Research results are being released in Facts & Trends magazine, a bimonthly publication by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. The studies were conducted on national samples of 504 Protestant ministers and 1,184 people who attend a Protestant church once a month or more.


United Methodists Address the 'Endangered Species': Young Clergy


United Methodists are forming an advisory team to reach and recruit what they call an ''endangered species'' in the church: young clergy.

At a May 1-3 summit in Atlanta, some 75 concerned United Methodists who specialize in the recruitment and development of young clergy leadership called for the development of a national advisory team that would help devise a national plan that will go into effect during the next year, according to the United Methodist News Service.

The advisory team will work in conjunction with the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and will be funded by the board and the Pastoral Leadership Search Effort through a grant from the Fund for Theological Education and the Lilly Endowment.

The Rev. Meg Lassiat, director of student ministries, vocation, and enlistment at the Board of Higher Education, told UMNS that studies show that only 4.69 percent of elders are under the age of 35 – a figure similar to that in most mainline denominations.

"While a number of factors have been identified as causes that may contribute to the low numbers of young adult clergy, at this time no one issue has been identified as central to that problem," she said.

The lack of youth attendants and leaders in U.S. mainline churches has posed a problem for decades, leading most denominations to host large-scale gatherings exclusively for youth and launching surveys and studies to follow the trend. In the United Methodist Church, the second largest denomination in the nation, recruiters have also devised an advertisement campaign that runs on hot youth spots such as Time Square in New York City.

The Rev. Lovett Weems, director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, described young clergy as “United Methodism’s endangered species,” and identified several issues the church must address in order to attract the group.

"The church itself must change," Weems said during his summit presentation, according to UMNS "Until the United Methodist Church demonstrates that it can reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people in life-transforming ways, current clergy age trends will probably not change."

The denomination is receiving applications for the advisory team, which is set to develop a plan for the denomination’s future efforts, help carry out a denominational plan for young leadership development, and research issues surrounding leadership and young adult clergy.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Tom Hanks Spurns Calls for Da Vinci Code Boycott


Hollywood actor Tom Hanks has come out to dismiss the criticism of church leaders around the world over The Da Vinci Code, saying that they have taken it too seriously.

Tom Hanks has hit out at calls from church groups and religious leaders to boycott ‘The Da Vinci’ Code film just one week before it is due for worldwide release.

The Hollywood actor, who plays the leading character Robert Langdon in the film version of Dan Brown’s controversial bestseller, has criticised the churches and religious leaders for taking the content too seriously.

"We always knew there would be a segment of society that would not want this movie to be shown," the star told London's Evening Standard newspaper ahead of the movie's release later this month.

"But the story we tell is loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense."

He added that movie-goers would be making a “very big mistake” to take the film at face value.

"It's a damn good story and a lot of fun ... all it is is dialogue. That never hurts,” he said.

The Da Vinci Code has caused uproar throughout large sections of the global Christian community, with many regarding the claims of the novel – including the allegation that Jesus Christ had children with Mary Magdalene – as blasphemous.

The Catholic organisation Opus Dei is holding seminars up and down the UK on The Da Vinci Code to coincide with the release of the film in an attempt to shake off the film’s portrayal of the group as a dark and scary sect that would murder to keep the ‘truth’ from coming out.

Speaking to Christian Today, Catholic film critic, Fr Peter Malone defended Opus Dei, saying that it was a “challenge for Opus Dei which they have met”.

He warned that The Da Vinci Code is a “phenomenon that must be addressed,” adding that it was “something that will last”.

The film will hold its world premiere next week at the Cannes Film Festival in France.


Oral and anal sex increasing among teens


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - During the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of teenagers and young adults engaging in oral sex and, less commonly, having anal intercourse, according to data from STD clinics in Baltimore, Maryland.

The finding is not all that surprising, Dr. Emily Erbelding from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore told Reuters Health.

She explained that "a few national surveys conducted recently have suggested that oral sex may be a behavior that teenagers are increasingly participating in. For example, in the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, most teenagers reported having oral sex and many had not had intercourse."

She presented the current study findings Tuesday in Jacksonville, Florida at the 2006 National STD Prevention Conference sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In examining the 1994 medical records of 2,598 12- to 25-year olds, and the 2004 medical records of 6,438 subjects of the same age, attending STD clinics in Baltimore, Erbelding and colleagues found that over the 10-year period the prevalence of self-reported oral sex in the previous 90 days doubled among males (from 16 percent to 32 percent) and more than doubled among females (from 14 percent to 38 percent).

There was also an increase in rectal sex among young women, "but it was a lot less common than oral sex," Erbelding said. Among young women, the prevalence of self-reported anal sex over the period rose from 3 percent to 5.5 percent.

There may be a general feeling out there that oral sex is safer than intercourse, Erbelding said, and it probably is for some diseases.

However, Erbelding emphasized that oral and anal sex may result in the transmission of STDs that will not be detected in urine tests. "A urine test is not going to pick up gonorrhea or Chlamydia that might have been acquired through rectal or oral sex, with gonorrhea being the more significant infection for oral sex."

Therefore, "clinicians need to routinely ask their adolescent and young adult patients about the full range of sexual behaviors and educate young people in general about what the relative risks are for different types of STDs for various sexual behaviors," Erbelding said.




recently i had dinner with a youth worker couple who had the kind of story i hear way too often these days. they’d been beat up, in one way or another, by two or three churches in a row. the pastor had said they were doing a great job, blah, blah, blah. though he did seem to have concerns about ministry style (they were relational, he was organizational). in the end, they got totally blindsided by the pastor or the board telling them they needed to leave. there was some kind of agreement on what would be said publicly, which the church and pastor (the way it was told to me) totally violated. lots of hurt. lots of pain. lots of mess.

i hear these stories every week. literally. there are variations, of course. some involve massive tension with a cold-hearted automaton of a senior pastor over a period of years, resulting in the ministry version of parallel-play (ministering alongside each other without any significant interaction with each other). some involve a spineless yes-man of a senior pastor and an overbearing board with some misguided ideas about what the youth ministry should be doing or valuing.

but the common thread is “abuse”. the stories rarely involve two valid points of view.

so, saturday, as i was flying home and thinking about and praying for this wonderful and sad youth worker couple, i started to ask myself some more macro-level questions. maybe it was because i was in a plane at the time, 35,000 feet over somewhere. that big-picture view. anyhow…

why is it that churches are SO bad at conflict resolution?

why is it that churches are SO bad at conflict resolution, particularly amongst their staff? so few senior pastors seem to have any ability in this area (surely, there are wonderful exceptions).

why do so many youth workers get abused by their churches? while they’re at the church, and especially in how and why they leave.

maybe it’s because our calling is so unique, so given to misunderstanding? maybe it’s because great youth ministry will never look quite like most senior pastors envision a pastoral role to look? when the senior pastor of our church in omaha re-inforced the office dress code, stating that jeans and shorts weren’t appropriate around the office, and that we would wear khakis or slacks and a collered shirt, unless we had a specific ministry reason why we were dressed otherwise, i took him literally. and the summer day i was going to be hanging out with middle school kids off-campus, i wore a collered shirt and khaki shorts. he yelled at me: “we don’t want to see your knees around this office!”

yeah, maybe that’s true. and i’m sure it’s true much of the time. but here’s the harder thought that i almost wish i hadn’t had…

what if the reason so many youth workers are treated poorly by our churches is partly because of us?

what if it’s because we’re immature? or, unprofressional, sloppy and ill-mannered? what if we’re hiding behind our calling and job descriptions (and audience) as an excuse for not getting organized, not growing up, not being a team player?

i’m not suggesting we all start keeping office hours and wearing dress slacks (and clip-on ties!). i’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt as a type this, and i can’t imagine working in a church where they required me to “dress up” for the office (we had a simple dress code at ys — “you have to have something on your feet” — but we got karla to rescind it about a year ago).

i tears me up to see so many youth workers treated poorly by their churches. and with each individual case, my primary response is empathy and shared pain. i know what that feels like. but taken collectively — looking at the whole mess from a few tens-of-thousdands of feet in the air… well, i just wonder what role we’ve all played in creating a system that would treat us this way, over and over and over again.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

StudentCAST 5 - Success in Student Ministry


In this episode we talk with Joel Carter, Lynn Pryor, and Paul Turner from our student ministry staff about effective ministry principles to help you achieve success in student ministry. We also take a closer look at Leading Student Ministry magazine with editor Paul Turner and discuss free downloadable resources surrounding The Da Vinci Code book/movie.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Rev Eiji Osato - BWA Youth President on World Day of Prayer


11th June will see the Baptist World Alliance Youth Ministry commence its World Day of Prayer 2006 under the theme 'Be Faithful in Prayer'.

Rev Eiji Osato, the BWA Youth President has given a message for Baptist youth to pray for one another.

His full message can be seen below:

The Baptist Youth World Day of Prayer is a great opportunity for us, as Baptist Youth, to get to know each other and start praying for each other. Technology of the 21st century makes it easier for us contact and network with one another in many different parts of the world. There are a lot of things we need to learn from each other and we need to support one another in prayer. So, please read carefully all of the prayer requests from different parts of the world and find a place to have quiet time to ask God what He wants you to do. God may give you a name of a specific country or region to pray for. God may guide you to contact young people in different regions by email. God even may challenge you to go to other parts of the world to help people there. No matter what guidance you may receive, please follow Him.

It is our privilege to pray for and with each other because Jesus promises to us that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by His Father in heaven. If we, Baptist young people around the whole world, agree to pray for each other, all our difficulties and problems will be solved by our God's almighty power and we will experience how great our God is.

I invite you to join us to pray for each other during our celebration of the Baptist Youth World Day of Prayer!


When Teens Tell All


Social Networking Sites Have Law Enforcement On Alert

(CBS) Do you have any idea what your kids are doing on their computer? Chances are they have a profile on a social networking site such as myspace.com, which has become popular among teens.

As part of a three-part series titled "Too Much Information," The Early Show national correspondent Tracy Smith takes a fascinating look inside the teenage digital world.

Since Smith started working on this series a few months ago, myspace.com has more than doubled its membership. The site has also made lots of headlines, as a tool for both law enforcement and, unfortunately, online predators, to get an inside look into the world and the minds of teenagers.

Social networking communities such as myspace.com are the fastest growing teenage phenomenon ever. Myspace.com alone has more than 75 million users and kids are signing up in droves.

"Because it is a place where they all go and find each other, you'd have a hard time finding a teen who doesn't have a profile on MySpace," says Laura Groppe from the Girls Intelligence Agency.

Kids customize their profiles, a sort of encyclopedia of personal information including screen name, town, school, lots of thoughts and feelings, and pictures.

The allure? "They want to be there, they want to talk, they wanna find out what's happening," explains high school student Danielle Swain.

"You're away from your parents and you're in control of your own thing," adds student Vivian Robbins.

Kids post comments about each other's pictures, and jump from one profile to another through networks of friends.

"You're sitting there and you're like, 'I have an English paper. I have an English paper. 'Ooh, who's that?' " jokes student Katie Zacuto. "Within 24 hours, I was completely addicted."

Kids try on different identities, push the boundaries and sometimes just make stuff up.

"Myspace is just a way for kids to start bragging about, 'I get so drunk on the weekend,' and it's more interesting to say that than say, 'I make cookies with my grandma,' " says student Mary Ellen Handy.

Asked why there are lots of cleavage shots, the girls said, laughing, that those pictures get the most comments. "Guys like it. You always take a picture to get the most comments you can," explains Katie Zacuto.

"It shows you have friends. Like, if you don't get comments, no one likes you," says high school student Malory McDonald.

"Less clothes, more sexually provocative activities, more high-risk activities are gonna get attention," explains Parry Aftab, executive director of WiredSafety.org.

And that's where the problems start. While MySpace feels like a private club to kids, it's a public place with breakable rules and limited enforcement that anyone with Internet access can see.

"There's lots of sexual predators who are using these sites like catalogues to find children," warns Aftab.

Kids who believe they're safe by hiding their identity can still give themselves away.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Study: Fewer Teens Having Sex, But Many Who Do Getting Pregnant


Thursday, May 4, 2006: A new study from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy has a mixed bag of results. On the one hand, it seems fewer teens are having sex and, because of that, there are fewer teen pregnancies overall.

The group says those numbers have decreased because this is a generation that's always known about STDs and AIDS, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest some teens are taking a more cautious attitude toward sex.

However, the study focuses on the teens who are having sex, and the numbers show that, overall, one-third of sexually experienced teen girls aged 15-19 have been pregnant, and one-in-eight sexually experienced teen boys have caused a pregnancy.

The research is based on an online quiz and reflects results from 2002.

On The Early Show Thursday, sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman discussed the study, and had advice for parents about talking to teens about the issue of teen pregnancy, and how to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

To watch the segment, click here. (Real Media Player Required)

Christian Game Developers Aim to Capture the Youth


In the midst of a world that is increasingly developing games bombarded with violence and sex, Christian game developers are emerging into the scene to make new products that will spark a positive effect to young people.

"It's time we give kids an alternative to the visuals and stories they're seeing today," said Bill Bean, president of the Association of Christian Entertainment (ACE). "The talent, the resources, and the demand is there for top-notch games, movies and TV shows that emphasize values instead of violence, character instead of carnage."

While the Christian video game segment is still small compared to secular games, many believe it will bring about a strong impact to the game industry, just as Contemporary Christian music has hugely impacted the music industry.

"The industry portfolio of Christian games for computers, Xbox and Playstation is quickly growing," says Bean, who serves as vice president of marketing and sales for Digital Praise Inc., an award-winning developer of Christian themed, family-friendly entertainment software. "Considering the level of talent involved, it's only a matter of time before a breakout title comes along that defines and legitimizes the category."

Recently the creators of Veggie Tales, Big Idea Incorporated, has released five personal computer titles, the most recent being "Minnesota Cuke and the Coconut Apes."

"Big Idea has released PC games over the last few years and has been impressed by the market's appetite for Veggie Tales-branded games. We are committed to the family friendly, Christian values based game category and are continuing to develop branded products to add to our catalog," said Greg Fritz, Marketing VP for Big Idea Inc.

In addition, Digital Praise has brought seven successful products to market. Its Dance Praise dance arcade game, which features Christian rock artists and a host of innovative dance features, has been a hit with young people. Left Behind Games has developed "LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces," the first PC game based on the Left Behind(R) series of books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, which have become one of the top-selling fiction series of all time.

"When the printing press was invented, it was inspired by the desire to make the Bible accessible to everyone. Today, people of passion who want to share their faith and provide quality entertainment for families are working in one of the most powerful media of our time--the interactive video game," said Moore, marketing and business development head at GarageGames.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Injured and out of commission

Hurt my foot while packing up my apartment for the move this weekend. Will post again on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Compelling Reason for Rigorous Training of the Mind


A Compelling Reason for Rigorous Training of the Mind Thoughts on the Significance of Reading

I was reading and meditating on the book of Hebrews recently, when it hit me forcefully that a basic and compelling reason for education-the rigorous training of the mind-is so that a person can read the Bible with understanding.

This sounds too obvious to be useful or compelling. But that's just because we take the preciousness of reading so for granted; or, even more, because we appreciate so little the kind of thinking that a complex Bible passage requires of us.

The book of Hebrews, for example, is an intellectually challenging argument from Old Testament texts. The points that the author makes hang on biblical observations that come only from rigorous reading, not light skimming. And the understanding of these Old Testament interpretations in the text of Hebrews requires rigorous thought and mental effort. The same could be said for the extended argumentation of Romans and Galatians and the other books of the Bible.

This is an overwhelming argument for giving our children a disciplined and rigorous training in how to think an author's thoughts after him from a text-especially a biblical text. An alphabet must be learned, as well as vocabulary, grammar, syntax, the rudiments of logic, and the way meaning is imparted through sustained connections of sentences and paragraphs.

The reason Christians have always planted schools where they have planted churches is because we are a people of THE BOOK. It is true that THE BOOK will never have its proper effect without prayer and the Holy Spirit. It is not a textbook to be debated; it is a fountain for spiritual thirst, and food for the soul, and a revelation of God, and a living power, and a two-edged sword. But none of this changes the fact: apart from the discipline of reading, the Bible is as powerless as paper. Someone might have to read it for you; but without reading, the meaning and the power of it are locked up.

Is it not remarkable how often Jesus settled great issues with a reference to reading? For example, in the issue of the Sabbath he said, "Have you not read what David did?" (Matthew 12:3). In the issue of divorce and remarriage he said, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?" (Matthew 19:4). In the issue of true worship and praise he said, "Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes you have prepared praise for yourself'?" (Matthew 21:16). In the issue of the resurrection he said, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone'?" (Matthew 21:42). And to the lawyer who queried him about eternal life he said, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" (Luke 10:26).

The apostle Paul also gave reading a great place in the life of the church. For example, he said to the Corinthians, "We write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end" (2 Corinthians 1:13). To the Ephesians he said, "When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ" (Ephesians 3:3). To the Colossians he said, "When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your partread my letter that is coming from Laodicea" (Colossians 4:16). Reading the letters of Paul was so important that he commands it with an oath: "I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren" (1 Thessalonians 5:27).

The ability to read does not come intuitively. It must be taught. And learning to read with understanding is a life-long labor. The implications for Christians are immense. Education of the mind in the rigorous discipline of thoughtful reading is a primary goal of school. The church of Jesus is debilitated when his people are lulled into thinking that it is humble or democratic or relevant to give a merely practical education that does not involve the rigorous training of the mind to think hard and to construe meaning from difficult texts.

The issue of earning a living is not nearly so important as whether the next generation has direct access to the meaning of the Word of God. We need an education that puts the highest premium under God on knowing the meaning of God's Book, and growing in the abilities that will unlock its riches for a lifetime. It would be better to starve for lack of food than to fail to grasp the meaning of the book of Romans. Lord, let us not fail the next generation!


Top Youth Ministry Books


YME submitted a list of their top recommended books for youth ministry in the areas of Youth Ministry Philosophy and Youth Ministry Resources with some honourable mentions as well. Each link is an Amazon affiliate link, but I do think this list offers more than just a means of income for them. And hey... if they directed you to a resource you've never heard of and you think you'll find useful... then why not let them have the finder's fee. :)


How Safe Are the Herbal Supplements Your Teens Use?


Industry Markets Directly to Young Adults, but Some Products Come With Side Effects

May 2, 2006 — Mary Ann Johnson will never forget the day the nurses were ready to wheel her 16-year-old autistic son into the operating room.

He was about to have open-heart surgery, but at the last minute, the surgical team had to call off the procedure when they learned Johnson had given her son the supplemenet St. John's Wort for depression.

What she didn't know was that the St. John's Wort was also thinning her son Adam's blood and could have spelled disaster during surgery.

"Poor Adam was a wreck about it," Johnson said. "And so was our whole family."

She's not alone in the confusion about supplements — in a recent study, 66 percent of participating parents said they thought supplements did not interact with other medications.

"When you pick up a bottle of an herbal med, does it contain what it says it contains? Are the ingredients the actual ingredients?" asked Dr. Lawrence Rosen, a founding member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Teen Shopping for Supplements

Many companies selling the products have bypasssed parents altogether and are marketing them to teens directly.

"The model of tobacco companies is what many companies are following," said Dr. Jordan Metzl of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. "I think it is really frightening."

When 17-year-old football player Aaron Ryel was tired of getting tackled, he went on the Internet and immediately found ads for body-building supplements.

His parents were aware that the high school senior spent around $1,000 on the supplements and used them to increase his weight from 164 pounds to 210.

"We just asked him if it was safe and made sure there were no side effects," said his father, Rick Ryel. "We didn't tell him he could do it; we didn't tell him he couldn't."

But doctors point out kidney failure and other complications have already been linked to body-bulking supplements.

"Many companies are looking primarily at their bottom line, and they really don't care much about health issues," Metzl said.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Calvin & Hobbes Wisdom: It's not about the numbers.


REVIEW: 10 Lies of Student Ministry by Michael Lukaszewski


Lies are all around us. Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist but lots of people try to sell us lies everyday. Lies that sex sells, lies that all guys want are girls that are rail thin and blonde, lies that you can only function in business and life on a Windows computer. I know terrible lies all around us. But we take for granted that being of the way, the truth and life that the father of lies can’t impact the church or our student ministries and we are dead wrong.

I stumbled across Michael’s blog one day through the website PlantersBlog.com asking for youth ministers to read and review his new book, 10 Lies of Student Ministry. Now I’m a sucker for free stuff, especially ministry books. So I took the challenge and here I am review a book that is one of those you can quickly work through and read once a year.

Michael wrote a great book that I personally think could be a great counterpart to be read-along side of Purpose Driven Youth Ministry for new student ministers or college students. I think he does a good job of debunking lies and myths of student ministry that sometimes trap us or that we allow ourselves to get caught up in trying to impress our friends, peers and senior ministers. But lets face some facts: youth groups don’t grow churches, guys in larger ministries are trying to figure out ways to make their groups smaller, if we are trying to build a large group of teens we are only stroking our own ego.


Teen Virginity Pledges: Can They Work?


Half of Pledgers Deny Pledge; Other Teens Become Born-Again Virgins

May 2, 2006 - Half of teens who take virginity pledges deny it a year later. But many sexually active teens become born-again virgins after taking the pledge, a new study shows.

Harvard graduate student Janet Rosenbaum analyzed data on a nationally representative sample of seventh through 12th graders collected in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Nearly 15,000 teens were interviewed in 1995 and again in 1996.

In the first survey, 13% of teens said they'd taken a virginity pledge. A year later, 53% of them said, "What pledge?"

On the other hand, about a third of teens said they'd had sex. A year later, 10.5% of these kids said they were virgins.

"Among those who take a virginity pledge, a year later more than half said they had never taken such a pledge," Rosenbaum tells WebMD. "And just over 10% of those who said they had sex later said they didn't have sex."

Rosenbaum's report appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Role of Religion

What makes a teen forget a virginity pledge? Sex certainly plays a role. Virgin teens who became sexually active were three times more likely to deny pledging than teens who said they'd remained virgins.

Strong religious messages may also play a role. Kids who said they no longer were born-again Christians were more likely to deny virginity pledges than other teens.

"I found that people who had become sexually active or who were already sexually active were more likely to retract their virginity pledges," Rosenbaum says. "Those who changed from being born-again Christian to other denominations were more likely to retract their pledge."

On the other hand, becoming a born-again Christian -- or taking a virginity pledge -- was linked to teens retracting self-reported sex.

"Looking at people who retracted reports of having sex, those who took virginity pledges in either survey were more likely to retract -- as was becoming a born-again Christian," Rosenbaum says. "So it seems that when social circumstances change, it affects people's reports on surveys of their own behavior."


Sex Lives Of Teens


The federal Center for Disease Control has released a study, one of the first of its kind, tracking teenage sexual habits and behavior. For many parents, the numbers were shocking, especially regarding oral sex. So The Early Show invited MTV's Gideon Yago to see what teens have to say about it all.

Yago told co-anchor Harry Smith he sat down with a group of high school kids(video) in Brookline, Mass., to talk with them about what they think are the prevailing views toward sex. The teenagers did not speak about their own experiences or decisions necessarily, but agreed to speak in general terms, to help shed light on the teenage experience.

Among the comments Yago heard:

Mark Whelan, high school senior: "I think just because we have like a casual experience now doesn't mean we're not going to know what intimacy is for the rest of our lives."

Jenny Weinstein, high school junior: "It can be really intimate or it can be just like a casual thing. I think it just definitely differs not only from like generation to generation but like from person to person."

Leah Wellbaum, high school junior: "It's become more socially acceptable to have oral sex than to have normal sex. People don't think it's that big of a deal."

While the number of teens having sexual intercourse has dropped, the number of kids having oral sex has substantially increased in the last 25 years. Teenagers say they understand the appeal.

Alex Teague, high school senior: "It's sex but not really because it's oral."

Whelan: "I almost think that like drinking … you sort of feel like everyone does it, so why shouldn't I do it."

Karl Knauf, high school senior: "It's almost like kissing somebody now — like it's not even that big of a deal."

But oral sex is a big deal, according to Julie Childers, director of research at Planned Parenthood. "Teenagers haven't gotten the message that oral sex still is risky so teenagers are — everyone is — still at risk for all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases."


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Zondervan Purchases Youth Specialties


We have HUGE news! Our longtime publishing partners and friends at Zondervan have purchased Youth Specialties. While you pick your jaw up off the floor, let me back up for a moment…

Youth Specialties was founded by Mike Yaconelli and Wayne Rice in the late 1960s, with a passion to train, encourage and provide resources for Christian youth workers. After a couple years of selling their “Ideas” books out of the trunks of their cars, the publisher of Zondervan came to them and said, “We love what you guys are doing. Let us help you get these resources out to youth workers all over North America.” Thus began our more than 30-year friendship with the world's largest Christian communications company.

Over the years, many things have changed in the church and in both companies. But both have stayed true to their mission and to the church we love so deeply. Zondervan talked to Mike and Karla Yaconelli about buying YS several years back, but the timing just wasn't right. The timing is perfect now.

Youth Specialties is a funky and small rag-tag group of youth workers who want to serve other youth workers. And we've always been as unstable as a middle school girl. One really bad move (and we make bad moves all the time!) could finish us off, and end our ability to serve you. So this gives us quite a bit more strength and stability—not to mention opportunity to expand what we're doing. This partnership—and our entire reason for wanting it—is so that we can serve youth workers better. This will allow us to take more risks, try more new things, grow and evolve.

If any other company were buying YS I would be extremely nervous. But we know the peeps at Zondervan, and they know us. I count many of their staff as close friends, as do most of our staff at YS. I'm tellin' ya—this whole thing is a love-fest!

Here's the big elephant-in-the-room question you're likely thinking at this moment: will YS change? Well, on one hand: I hope so! YS has always been committed to change. And we can never continue to fulfill our mission to bring change to the church unless we are changing ourselves. But here's what won't change: our mission, our culture, our vision and values, and our commitment to providing you with the best resources, training, encouragement and challenge. Zondervan is 100% committed to us staying who we are. We'll keep our offices here in San Diego, and our staff isn't experiencing any major changes—except Karla Yaconelli, who will no longer be our owner, but will be actively involved in a consulting role with us (in fact, Karla's office will remain next to mine, so she can bug me anytime she pleases!). You'll be hearing from Karla in the days to come also.

We're pretty pumped about this whole thing because, at the end of the day, Zondervan will help us keep doing what we live for: loving youth workers and the kids they serve.

Thanks for taking the journey with us everyday, and feel free to connect with me if you have any questions about this deal.



Church Looks to Attract More Young People


A special conference has been held by the Diocese of Bradford as the Church looks to woo more and more young people.

The Archbishop of York attended a special conference in Bradford Monday to support the work of the Church with young people and review new ways to reach out to the upcoming generation.

Dr John Sentamu met with numerous young people at the conference held at Bradford Grammar School on Monday as well as the leaders of many youth initiatives run by parishes throughout the Diocese of Bradford.

He said: “In a rapidly changing culture, many feel bewildered about how to communicate with young people, so I'm delighted that the Diocese of Bradford is facing this issue head on - and it's a mark of their commitment that they're giving up their Bank Holiday to do so.

"Jesus said, 'Unless you become like a little child you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven'. We have a lot to learn from young people as well as much responsibility for them.”

Participants at the conference were given the opportunity to take part in 24 different seminars and workshops exploring a variety of current youth-related issues, including teenage spirituality, all-age worship, and ways of bringing the Bible back into schools.

One of the organisers of the event, the Rev Steve Allen, said prior to the event: “We're expecting 500 people representing all parishes in the. It's a day of celebration, fellowship and teaching where we'll be looking at the work we already do, and how we can do it better - to show that we really are a diocese that says 'yes to young people'.

"The declining numbers of children and young people in churches is an obvious concern, so we want to build on the energy, dedication and creativity that is already being put into our work with them, so that we might be able to communicate with children and young people more effectively".

Participants were also able to join in a seminar on Christian/Muslim Relations Post 7/7, led by Dr Philip Lewis, Diocesan Inter-Faith Adviser, who addressed the question of how recent events on this front have affected local communities.

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David James, saidt: “We are making young people our priority in 2006 and I'm delighted that we have this particular day to really focus on our work with them. There are some brilliant examples of imaginative youth and children's work within the diocese, and there are places where there is famine in the land.

“As we share stories, good practice and resources I believe we'll be able to both affirm what is already going on and also open up new opportunities for us to say "yes to young people" - so that many more of them will be drawn to Christ and find a home amongst us.”

The Diocese of Bradford stretches from Bradford City and broadly covers Bradford Met and the Yorkshire Dales.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Parents' Suit Challenges Gay-Themed Book


BOSTON (AP) - Two couples who say a suburban school district undermined their parental rights by giving out and reading storybooks with gay themes without telling them first have filed a federal lawsuit against school officials.

The couples claim the officials broke state law, violated their civil rights, and were trying to teach their children about a lifestyle they consider immoral.

Lexington school superintendent Paul Ash said the schools have no agenda and have done nothing illegal.

Last month, Joseph and Robin Wirthlin objected when a teacher read a storybook about two princes who fall in love to their son's second grade class without notifying them.

David Parker was jailed last year after he refused to leave a school when officials declined to exclude his 6-year-old son from discussions of gay parents. Parker initially complained after his son brought home a "diversity book bag" with a book that depicted a gay family.

Their attorney, Jeffrey Denner, said Lexington violated the rights of privacy and freedom of religion of his clients — all identified as devout Christians in the lawsuit — by unilaterally deciding how and when lessons about gay marriage will be taught.

"Parents need to be the ones to determine when it is introduced and how it is introduced," said Parker.

Denner said the school is ignoring a state requirement to notify parents when such topics are discussed so they can remove their children from class if they want.

The school has argued that the state's "opt-out" law requires schools only to inform parents about class content when sex education or human sexuality is the primary focus.

Ash said it would be impossible to notify parents every time such issues come up, because in some cases, it isn't planned.

"In Massachusetts, gays have equal rights," Ash said. "We have gay marriage. Our kids see it, it's part of our overall curriculum. We talking about what kids see in today's world."

The lawsuit, filed by David and Tonia Parker and the Wirthlins, names Ash, the town, school committee members, and other school officials. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.


Racy TV Shows Increase Teen Sex Activity, Study Says


But Study Has Important Limitations, Critics Note

The more sexual content in television and magazines that teens are exposed to, the more likely they are to have sexual intercourse at an early age, a new study says.

The University of North Carolina study, published in today's issue of the journal Pediatrics, concludes that white adolescents who view more sexual content than their peers are 2.2 times more likely to have sexual intercourse by the time they are 14 to 16 years old.

"Some, especially those who have fewer alternative sources of sexual norms, such as parents or friends, may use the media as a kind of sexual superpeer that encourages them to be sexually active," the study authors state.

And, as similar past studies have noted, "one of the strongest protective factors against early sexual behavior was clear parental communication about sex."

But, as both the authors and other critics note, the analysis has several important limitations. The survey of sexual behavior only included 1,017 teens in three public school districts in North Carolina, and did not take into account exposure to sexual content on the Internet.

Julia A. Ericksen, chair of the department of sociology at Temple University, said that it's not surprising that sexual content on television and in magazines might have an impact on teen behavior.

But, she said, it's easy to oversimplify such a complex topic, since many things can influence a young teenager's sexual behavior, like the advent of puberty.

"It makes sense to think that young people create their ideas about appropriate sexual behavior from the messages they receive and that these messages are most attractively packaged by the media," she said. "But demonstrating this is difficult because teens experience so many influences on their sexual attitudes, and sorting them out is not easy."

There's also a chicken-or-egg component to the issue, Ericksen says.

"It is likely that teens who are most interested in sex are both more likely to watch shows on television with sex in them and more likely to experiment sexually," she said.


US SURVEY: Churchgoing Lowest in New England, Highest in South


The latest Gallup poll found that 42 percent of Americans say they attend church or synagogue once a week or almost every week and among the frequent churchgoers, most are from the South while the New England states have the lowest percentage of church attendance.

Based on a large sample size of more than 68,000 interviews conducted over the past two years, the survey saw as high a percentage as 58 in Alabama while New Hampshire and Vermont showed the lowest attendance rate of 24 percent.

Survey results revealed a wide variation across 48 states, but overall patterns clearly indicated the highest church attendance in the traditionally Southern states. Of the Southern states, Virginia had the lowest reported churchgoer rate with 44 percent, which still lies above the national average. Church attendance is also high in certain Midwestern states, including Nebraska with 53 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, the New England states show church attendance rates in the 20 to 30 percent range with the highest among those being Connecticut at 37 percent.

The highest most populous states reported the following rates: California, 32 percent; Texas, 49 percent; New York, 33 percent; Florida, 39 percent; and Illinois, 42 percent.

The regional survey follows a Gallup study that showed the highest church attendance rate to be among Evangelicals. Evangelical churchgoers were found to range in the 60 percentile.

Also concluded from church attendance surveys were subgroup patterns. Women are more likely to attend church than men, older Americans are more likely to attend than the younger, and blacks are more likely to attend than whites.

The Gallup poll conducted 68,031 telephone interviews with Americans aged 18 and older from January 2004 through March 2006.