Do As I Say, Not As I Pinterest

We live in an pinteresting time.  Okay sorry, I couldn’t resist.  With all the social sites around, including pinterest, we can literally share everything about our lives 24/7 and have immediate feedback.  There are many pro’s and con’s to this sort of social sharing, and while I’ve engaged in these sort of conversations before on this blog, my point is not to list these out today.  Today I just want to address the leaders who may be serving in our churches and are unaware of the discipleship impact they are having on students they invite to “follow” their lives online.  I don’t want to rant, but I just want to address all of us that work with students AND choose to have an online presence.  Just a question to think about today. When we post, pin, tweet, or update all parts of our lives, do we really think about who is looking at the overflow?  If you are working with students, you need to consider all areas of your life as areas that students are looking for Christ at work in.  When you show up in their lives on Sunday or Wednesday to open the Bible with them, you can’t erase what they’ve seen you open before them on pinterest, facebook, or twitter.  Whether you believe it or not, you are telling them what is important to you and approving it for them.  That’s why it’s important for you to have mentors and accountability partners to help you discern how to “share” your life and pursue things that are noble, praiseworthy, and excellent—even on pinterest, facebook, and twitter.

Proverbs 13:20 reads, “Whoever walks with
the wise becomes wise, but the companion
of fools suffers harm.”

I have been observing some pins on pinterest of people I know to have a heart for students, but as a girls minister I would not want their pins to be seen by girls in our student ministry.  I think we begin to start “pinning and posting” things that are less than noble, praiseworthy, and excellent when we lack wise companions.

So my questions to leaders today is this:
Who do you have that is investing wisdom in your life as you move along this life journey?

Who do you have that would challenge a pin, post or tweet?

My challenge today is this:

Take a moment and look back at the pins, posts, tweets, or statuses and ask yourself if these are interests or statements you would be proud to share with a bunch of students you are discipling.  Have you thought through how your sharing of these interests, hobbies, or thoughts could impact a person you are discipling?

It’s tough being a leader, especially in a world where you can’t just show up at church and share one aspect of your life with a group of students and then go home to block off your online life from them.  It’s all or nothing!  But it’s not just all or nothing with them is it?  I think when we get down to the bottom of the things we’re posting online, it can speak to what is going on in our souls as well.

5 Ways To Help Wean Students From a Cell Phone Addiction

(originally published on Oct 2, 2009 but revised and updated on December 2, 2011)

I heard it said recently that cellphones have become the electronic pacifier of the 21st century. Wow! Yes…that is true.  We have students that cannot be without their cell phone. As a girls minister, we have seen this to be a problem not just for our teens but for our parents as well. Sometimes parents are the ones who are wanting their child to have a cell phone so that they can talk with them at an event.  We’ve seen unfortunate distractions happen because cell phones were carelessly used at an event by a student who couldn’t stay away from it. Ironically when boundaries are placed on using the cellphone at events or on mission trips, some students express thanks for the break of being “available 24-7”.  But there are other layers to this constant need for connection. We have become a society that cannot hit pause…not even in the car.  And literally we are seeing a collision occur when people put their need for cell phone connection and/or production above the safety of themselves and others  as people continue to maintain constant communication even while they are driving.   It’s becoming an addiction, although Texting Queen Emilee Cox might not say it’s an addiction with her 35,463 Texts In 30 Days.

<embed src="" autostart="false" width="350" height="320"

So what are we going to do about it? Here are a few of my ideas to help wean students from a cell phone addiction.
1. While on our mission experiences, we have told students they can’t have their cellphones except during certain breaks. To ensure that their cellphone is charged and checked in, we created these charging tubs. Their name is written in sharpie on a strip of duct tape, and using a dry erase marker, we can check in their phone after each break. We’ve had students thank us for doing this because it allowed them to truly be present when they needed to be present.

2. During small groups, have a “cell phone condo”—-A box that states: “Where Your Cell Phone Lives During small groups.” You could also just have a cell phone bucket placed in the middle of the room and have students place their cell phones in there during small groups.

3. Have your students fill out a cell phone covenant with you. It could look something like this:

I understand that it is possible to make my cell phone an idol or that it may become an addiction for me.  I understand that an “addiction is when we’re seeking to find something that only God can provide in something besides God Himself.” (as stated by Craig Groeschel, life church tv) In order to not let this take place in my life, I will agree to a cell phone sabbath where I make the choice to detach myself from my phone once a week.

I will seek to have a cell phone sabbath hour every day during the hours of_________ to ___________.

I will leave my phone outside of my bedroom each night so that I can truly rest and not get caught up in any activity or conversation I might find myself in late at night or early in the morning if it were accessible.

Please keep me accountable to this agreement and ask how I am doing on a regular basis.
I’ve posted another cellphone contract that you can get ideas from here: Cell Phone Contract 2

4. If you are a parent, you may want to consider getting an app that restricts texting while driving. Here are some options:

5. Let’s not forget that modeling cell phone habits is teaching our students and children much more than we may think. I had a student tell me she thought I was using my phone more than I should.  She challenged me to not use my phone for 24 hours and she would tell as many people she could about Jesus if I took the challenge. It was a win win for everyone.  I took the challenge, and I learned a little about my own cell phone habits. 🙂

I’m sure there are several other things we can do. What have you tried, tested, rejected, and celebrated regarding helping wean students from the cellphone addictive habits? Leave a comment or drop me a line at:

DIGITAL Boundaries: how they help in loving your teenaged daughter

Judges 17:6
This was before kings ruled Israel, so all the Israelites did whatever they thought was right .

(originally published on January 7, 2011. Reposted with extra links)

I was reading this passage today and recognized that for many of us, we know a “little princess” who lives this out on a day by day basis.  Just like the society that Judges was chronicling, girls that we know choose to live their lives doing whatever they want to do and labeling it as “RIGHT”.

So here are some basics you can do to help your daughter have healthy digital boundaries set by your family, so that there is not a temptation for your daughter to “do whatever they think is right” online.  You need to be having conversations about technology and tv instead of simply BANNING it.  When your student moves out of the house, they need to determine what their digital boundaries are. One of mine is that I don’t post on facebook walls past a certain hour.  So read on about some basics, and then work with your family to see what boundaries you need to have.  You are preparing them for the future with these conversations, because I guarantee that they are not thinking about how their digital presence is connected to their physical presence. So read on and see if any of these may work for you.

1. Stop believing the lie that if you set boundaries, they’ll just do whatever they want anyway. I know several families, mine included, that lovingly set boundaries because they know their teen has a prefrontal cortex that is not fully developed until they are 25.  We would think it’s absurd to let a baby or a toddler to decide what to do with their day, or where to go. Why do some people believe that teenagers should be different with having age specific boundaries?

Our middle school minister has triplets that are 1 and a precious little girl named Harper who is 3.  This past week, Mary Lindsey (our middle school minister’s wife and a good friend of mine) came with the whole clan to let them get some excercise and for her to get a couple of things done.  We each took a child and walked with them around the church.  There were several times when I noticed my particular triplet moving toward a place they didn’t need to be going or putting something in their mouth that didn’t need to be there. So I would tell them “no” and move them back into the boundaries they were allowed to run in. Just like toddlers need boundaries to grow healthy and even to know they are loved, teenagers need boundaries as well. Here are some that I have seen my parents and other families institute in their homes with great success.

1. Practice a no technology boundary at dinner. That time is family time and so you as much as your children, need to turn off technology and truly begin having conversations with each other.

2. Keep your computers in a family central area. Work with your daughter in creating this family space.

Explain that this computer family area not only encourages public accountability for her, but also for the rest of the family.

3. Work with your daughter to establish “cell phone check-in station” . When cellphones start coming into the life of your teenager, oftentimes they may find themselves tempted to say or do things with their phone that they shouldn’t be doing. These things typically happen late at night. Example: SEXTING, addictive night texting, One family I know picks an hour and checks in the phones of their children in the evening.  This policy is so their children are not alone with their cell phones having conversations in bed late at night with people they  would never let into their physical room at that late of an hour.

4. Agree with your student to set some facebook profile rules that work both ways.

As a parent,there are some rules you need to have for yourself as well as your daughter. For example,do not post on their wall every week and comment on all of their friends comments. The fact that they are letting you into their social network is great.  Do not abuse that.  Instead, work with them to agree on how you will interact with each other on facebook.  Use the private message feature. Help them understand that they do not need to put their cell phone on their page. There are so many conversations you need to have your daughter to agree  with how you interact with your her and how they interact with their social network world as well.

5. Bring prayer into their digital boundaries. Pray each day that they are being wise and seeking to make God known rather than being self-absorbed on faebook.  Message them a prayer each week through their facebook email or text them a prayer.  Help them to celebrate technology and not just condemning it.  Technology is not bad by itself, but when it is placed in our hands we can move it into a bad tool or a good tool.  Talk with your daughters about this concept as well.

Check out our other article with 5 specific ways to wean your teen off their cellphone

These are just a few thoughts that I have seen work with Digital boundaries in the home.  This is not exhaustive and they can always improve. Each family has different habits and personalities so we recognize that some of these boundaries may not work in your home but another will.  Please share below regarding some digital boundaries you may already use or have seen others use.

Facebook Tutorial for parents in your ministry

This week I was helping some friends out with their facebook profiles and teaching them some basics via a screencast. As I was walking through the process, I realized that this video might be helpful to student ministers who have parents unfamiliar with facebook or maybe it will save you a confusing conversation with your mom or dad. You can literally shoot them this link and be the hero for providing this facebook tutorial tech moment. It’s not very flashy, but maybe it will help someone. Hopefully someone will “like it”. 😉 That’s a facebook joke, but if you don’t know facebook you won’t laugh until after the video. It’s okay. You’ll understand soon.

So you have a parent who comes to you wanting you to help them understand this facebook thing. Voila! You now have a online tutorial to walk parents in your ministry through a facebook profiel. *Sigh of relief* …that’s right, now you can use this video in your next technology meeting with parents or share the video on your facebook page with your parents. If you need a more specific tutorial, just let me know. I’d love to help you out.

How to digitally share your favorite resources through shelfari

I’m sure it’s happened to you. It’s a Wednesday night, and a mom comes up to you wanting to know if you have a bible study for her daughter that you could recommend. Same day, (cuz you’re just really popular) a teenaged girl is wanting to find a resource to help her understand theology, and she wants to know what you recommend. Or maybe, you want to let your small group leaders see the approved curriculum you have for them to select for their groups this semester. If one or all of the above scenarios sounds familiar, you need to set up a Shelfari. It’s really easy. It’s free. Go to and begin setting up an online reference bookshelf. You can even create tags for specific people. For example, my entire bookshelf is
I just created a tagged bookshelf for some parents:
And embedded, it looks like below:

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blogFind new books and literate friends with Shelfari, the online book club.

Tigertext: helping teens and adults cover their tracks

tiger This is a new app only available on iphones right now but it allows a person to erase texts you’ve sent on another person’s cell phone. Interestingly named Tigertext.  The company that released it promises that it was not named after Tiger Woods but ironically it would have been a program he would’ve benefitted from.  I think this is not something that teaches teens how to use their phones. It bypasses consequences and moves straight to covering up their actions. I will never have this on my phone because I try to create boundaries in my phone useage that would never put me in a place that would cause me to send something I would want to have retracted.  Not using my text messaging past certain hours. My question is: can this really delete poor texting decisions a teen or adult makes? Does the text still get documented somewhere that the authorities could trace it down. I would like to know more information—otherwise we will now have more Sexters unaccountable for their actions.  Shane Hipps makes mention that when you bring in a technology into your life, you gain and you lose.  What do you see the advantages of this technology being and what do you see the disadvantage of this technology being if it were to be introduced into your life or the life of your teens?