If We Do Nothing… Nothing Will Be Done – Part 2

By Tracy Carpenter

The Do’s and Don’ts when talking to kids about the issue of pornography and internet dangers.

DO…
1. Help protect kids online by offering education on our culture and a biblical worldview for them to consider at every opportunity. “Direct my footsteps according to your word…” Psalm 119:133 [NIV]

2. Help kids learn the fundamentals of Christian faith and apply them to their culture. Through guided discussions and a biblical worldview, kids can learn to apply their beliefs and moral values to the culture and mass media of entertainment and technology.

3. Stimulate kids to discover, discern, and reflect on the messages of the media.

4. Help kids to set guidelines for the internet and other up and coming technology.

5. Talk to kids about social issues at a very early age. Do not wait until topics like MySpace, cyber bullying, dating, sex or even pornography become major issues; teach God’s guidelines early and articulate them. In fact, the earlier and more often the better!

6. Talk often to your kids about the issues that shape their future. Talk to them about their online activities and friends, just as you would talk to them about any of their other activities, but especially the dangers.

7. Role Play. Establishing an open and honest dialogue with kids today will create an atmosphere of trust and respect. They need to feel they can come to you with questions. (Always encourage them to talk to their parents as well.) Help kids to visualize and articulate their plans of action. A plan is the before, during and after. Give kids tangible ideas of what they can do to be equipped and ready for whatever they may face on the internet.

8. Be proactive about helping the kids you minister to make healthy and Godly choices in their life. “Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.” Proverbs 4:26 [NLT] Understand the basic issues at hand when it comes to pornography and kids’ exposure to it. Keep learning and seeking out resources that will help you grow as a child advocate. Someone is going to teach the kids you minister to about stuff like drugs, sex and yes, porn. The conversation is happening every day in our society, and it will continue. Don’t be afraid to join the conversation regularly with the kids at your church, in a responsible and appropriate manner.

9. Create innovative programming during high risk hours for kids to engage in. (Example: when school lets out.) We must continuously try to find innovative ways to relate to this explosive, dynamic population of kids. We will have to continuously be re-inventing and educating ourselves. The kids of tomorrow will be watching everything we attempt to do in our programming and this will directly reflect their ability to understand Christianity and Christ.

10. Build social networks within your ministry for your kids to fall into as they fall out of elementary.

11. Start looking ahead. Repeatedly ask questions of your team: What is coming? How can we help? How can we educate ourselves and our kids about this culture? How can we give them a solid Biblical worldview? How can we better educate our parents to protect and educate their own children? What curriculum is out there to address the needs of our kids?

12. Provide education to parents. Help parents learn how to protect their kids as they wade through the World Wide Web. Handouts which are chalk full of tips and valuable information can be given to parents to help them become better equipped at communicating with their kids about internet dangers.

13. Get connected in the lives of the kids you minister to. Before children’s pastors’ can really know how to effectively reach a generation, they must understand who they are out to reach. In addition, they must reach them on their terms or they will surely lose them. We are working with kids whose entire lives have been immersed in the 21st century media culture. Know what is happening in the major media that shapes their world and keep current with existing and upcoming trends and technology.

14. Become more computer literate and encourage your team of leaders to become more computer literate as well. (If needed, sit down at the computer and go right to MySpace. Kids today and their parents need to know that you know what’s up.) Parents will desperately need you to understand when they show up dazed and confused and in need of your counsel. Read blogs, text, surf the web, whatever it takes to be a voice on the issues facing kids.

15. Help kids, and therefore society, by providing well planned online educational experiences… from website development to virtual environments just for kids.

16. Provide a safe atmosphere for kids in your ministry to share anything. Offer forms of counseling free of judgment for kids who make mistakes and find themselves in trouble.

17. Help kids understand the impact the media has on today’s culture. “Jesus told them don’t let anyone mislead you.” Matthew 24:4 [NIV]

18. Explain to your kids the truth of what is happening today. (Example: sexual predators live online and they are out to exploit and harm them.)

19. Discuss all messages in the media, from Halloween to computers.

DON’T…
1. Don’t overprotect them “…But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 [NIV}

2. Don’t try to fix everything. Help kids learn the role of discretion in decision making. Encourage parents to not fix everything for them. Instead, allow kids to experience natural consequences.

3. Don’t overact. Stay calm and collected when you are talking about sensitive issues. When overwhelmed with the dangers of technology and media, some pastors “overact”. Do not freak out! Parents are counting on you!

4. Don’t avoid tough conversations. “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness, instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11 [NLT] We must take a stand in church for this generation and the generations to come. There is a roaring lion encircling the lives of kids everywhere and he lives in the computer. If we’re not careful, the kids of tomorrow won’t have a chance. Pastors, directors, and those who pray to the heavens for guidance need to speak out together to help the kids of tomorrow make the most of the internet by helping them recognize the numerous dangers waiting for them online.

5. Don’t be in denial. “Everything is permissible for me —- but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 [NIV]

No other generation has been able to touch the past, present, or future in only a matter of seconds like this generation. This age of information will continue to change the way kids will not only see the world, but how they will interpret it. Kids today are dealing with divorce, internet issues, death, illness, obesity, drugs, abuse, poverty, anger, bullies, ADD, and witchcraft. So many ministries around the country tend to retell the stories of the Old Testament over and over again. Focusing on the similar subjects of love, salvation, God’s promises, and forgiveness with no mention of the many real issues kids today are facing. The stories of the Old Testament must be primary and essential in teaching kids about Christ, but kids also need to be ministered to on their level, where they are. As pastors we need to talk about all the “stuff” kids of today are really dealing with, while using the Bible to give them the truth, perspective, and a great foundation. If we don’t begin to teach a balance of worldview, Biblical worldview, Bible, worship, prayer and Old and New Testament, kids could be swallowed up by the enemy, having lots of great knowledge of the Bible in their heads but not in their hearts.

We must open our eyes to the culture and the world in which the kids we minister to live in, it is quite different than the world grew up in! If we are truly going to get involved, make a difference and transform kid’s lives, we need to immerse ourselves in their world and show them Christ in ours!

Tracy Carpenter is currently the Chief Creative Officer for Kidsworld Studios Inc. a missional minded organization committed to creating spiritually kid focused projects, programs, support, resources, and ministry. She is the Director of Creative development for theporntalk.com which is a great website on how to talk to kids about pornography and internet dangers. She has been published multiple times in national magazines and is known as a kids “futurist”. She has dedicated her ministry to the emergent culture and growing ministries both internally and externally. For more information on this and other subjects which are affecting the futuristic generation, feel free to contact Tracy Carpenter, PhD at www.kidsworldstudios.com.

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