Parenting has always been challenging; but the digital revolution has compounded parent-child relationships. The switch from rural to urban living, increase in single-parent households, development of technology, and secularization of education have combined to create frustrations for parents and pastors who want to inspire youth to love God and make wise life choices consistent with Judeo-Christian principles. Added to parental frustrations is the fact that many churches offer very little attraction to teenagers with few house-hold responsibilities, while being caught up in boredom and addiction to video games and social media. Consequently, millions of youth are growing up void of life principles and values needed to sustain meaningful employment and enduring marriages. The sad truth is that many parents and pastors simply do not know how to guide youth in the digital age.
Creating teenage interest in spiritual matters is almost impossible without involving digitally-based activities. Reality of modern life is that most youth spend a great portion of each day with fingers wrapped around digital devices rather than books. Weekends especially become challenging for teenagers who yearn to socialize with peers. That is where pastors can be of assistance to parents. Tragically, most pastors limit their creative thinking to adult topics, rather than to character enrichment, spiritual development, and stretching of interest in meaningful careers for teens.
Fortunately, numerous churches are developing facilities designed with digital components, sound equipment, wide screens, and educational software that relate to teenagers. At those facilities, youth gather on Friday and/or Saturday evening for “lock-ins” involving supervised activities based on digital devices, as well as such games as foosball, table tennis, two-on-two basketball, group singing, and climbing walls. Sometime during the evening, pastors use power-points to teach short lessons on such topics as dating, pimples, safeguarding against passion, understanding fluctuating emotions, identifying personality differences and spiritual gifts, and developing meaningful hobbies. Such pastors are discovering that digital-age youth really are interested in “deeper topics” when presented with digital devices.
Astute-minded pastors even break from status-quo to offer adult lessons on parenting skills, including how to use digital devices as incentives; parents are tutored on how to withhold youth access to smartphones and video games until school work, hobbies, and household chores are completed. Moreover, forward-thinking pastors sponsor field trips to such places as museums, art galleries, factories, libraries, bowling allies, skating rinks, archery ranges, and fishing camps. Some church staff conduct classes on software programming, lighting enhancement, computer graphics, power-point development, sound equipment, and vocal and instrumental music lessons. Congregational members even get involved by tutoring in math, writing, and language skills, and even in cooking and home management techniques. The point is that parents can benefit immensely from pastoral assistance and church programs to help guide children to be successful adults.