Tag! Parent and Teenagers Togetherby Marty Simpkins
On March 1, 2014, parents and teenagers gathered together at First Baptist Church in Garner, N.C. to learn how to build solid relationships with each other through the Tag! Parents and Teenagers Together conference. These conferences are sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and are conducted by Merrie Johnson, the Convention’s senior consultant for youth evangelism and discipleship.
The Tag! conferences involve teens and parents worshipping the Lord, playing games and sharing personal experiences together. Using Romans 12:9-18, Johnson speaks about how a great Christian family should function.
Following an introductory session, teens participate in gender-specific breakout sessions while Johnson teaches parents how to prepare their sons and daughters for the difficulties of life ahead.
The conference schedule provides opportunities for parents and teenagers to enjoy lunch together and spend time during the afternoon engaged in activities revolving around building trust, learning to listen to one another and finding ways to do more fun things together.
Johnson shares the biblical principles supporting the theme are found in Joshua 1:9 which reads:
“For I have commanded you, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do.”
She uses this passage to illustrate the fact that teenagers go through a period of transition that is comparable to the Israelites’ transition from being led by Moses to being led by Joshua.
“We all were teenagers at one time and we all made mistakes,” Johnson said. “As our family grows, we become the parent of a teenager, trying to instill in them our number-one goal, which is to have an everlasting relationship with Jesus Christ and that they’re following after Him.”
Johnson continues, “I want them (parents and teens) to make a commitment to do one thing by the end of this session, and that’s to ask themselves, what’s the one thing that they want to change in their family. Our emphasis is to bring the parents and teenagers together, mainly because teenagers just stop talking. We’ve got to be a voice that is as loud as what the world is telling them,” she said. “Somewhere along the way, we think that they don’t want us around anymore, but they still have to have guidelines and to have someone fighting for them in the things that they are going through.”
The purpose of the “Tag! You’re It” theme is to equip Christian students to make their lives count and to stand up for what they believe. Participants are trained in a form of apologetics that is specifically tailored to the young audience at this conference.
The results from the North Carolina Baptist Youth Ministry Survey in 2011 revealed that out of 4,281 students who completed the 83-question survey, 3,744 failed the biblical literacy portion.
“This was the ‘cream of the crop’ of students from NC Baptist churches: involved in youth ministry, that were attending youth camp,” Johnson said.
She admitted that she knew the scores would be low, but she never anticipated over 87 percent failing in what they know about God’s Word. The survey results also revealed that this generation is neither being mentored nor getting involved in discipleship groups. The Tag! conferences help combat this by training students how to pray, how to share the gospel, how to defend what they believe and how to be a leader.
The “Tag! You’re It” theme was developed upon the conviction that the Convention should assist churches in making disciples among teenagers. Scripture instructs parents to engage in disciple-making with their children. Deuteronomy 6:7 reads, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” but many parents simply do not know how. The Tag! conferences provide an opportunity to improve communication between parents and teenagers in order to navigate the turbulent teenage years and discover how to grow as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ together.
For more information on upcoming BeDoTell events and future “Tag!” conferences, contact Merrie Johnson at (919) 459-5566 or email [email protected]. Additional information may also be found by visiting www.bedotell.com.