My Chatterbox

I crawl into my bed, fluff the blankets, snuggle into the blankets – when suddenly my bed shakes and bounces me up as my 16 year old son leaps from the door onto the bed in excitement. He’s just made a list of all his recommendations for “must-see” movies. He excitedly rambles on about each movie and why it’s on his list. I forgot how tired I was as I join in his excitement and we laugh and chat on my bed.
Throughout the years, I’ve listened when I thought my ears would fall off and my brain would go numb from hearing things I care nothing about. Believe me, when I tell you I have listened to hours upon hours of talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! Comic Book Heroes and Villains, and let’s not forget the Zombies.
I’ve been given random “pop” quizzes to test whether I was “really” listening or whether I was “pretending” to listen by nodding my head at appropriate times but thinking about my grocery list.
“List for me which Superheroes are DC and which are Marvel?”
“Did Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger make a better Joker? And Why?”
“What is the best rout of escape from our house in a Zombie apocalypse?”
 “What is the best weapon to use in against Zombies?”
Although my test scores don’t really reflect my true intelligence, the grades reflect way more than those I received in college because instead of an “A” on a report card, I’m rewarded with a teenager who hops on my bed in excitement and tells me about his world.
Ann Taylor
(Revised by me)
From morning till night it was Dre’s delight
To chatter and talk without stopping:
There was not a day but he rattled away,
Like water for ever a-dropping.
No matter at all if the subjects were small,
Or not worth the trouble of saying,
‘Twas equal to him, he would talking prefer
To working, or reading, or playing.






Debate 101: Lesson 2 Lesson Plans
Goal: Research
I.                   What to research? ORIGINAL SOURCES

Vintage Books
With help, my 7th Graders read the US Constitution.
My 8
th Graders -Supreme Court cases and judgments.
With just a question or two, my 9
th Graders -Congressional Committees Reports
My 10
th – 12th graders – United Nations Human Rights reports – which they explain to me 
My 12 – 18 year olds WATCH presidential speeches live and take notes. Believe me; I’ll know if they listened to the “summery” by FOX or CNN the morning after. FOX and CNN might give sound bites of the actual speech, but those bites taste very different. In fact, if you listen to two different news stations, you might think they are speaking about two different speeches. How is a 15 year old to know which report is “the truth” if they didn’t listen to the actual speech?
Let’s not forget that debate is a competition. The surest way to get creamed in a round is to bring up Wikipedia or BBC news as a source. The judge can’t believe a student who says he knows the “truth” yet his “truth” come from an unreliable or bias source.
My debate students are smart. My church students are smart, too. The only difference is one is taught to go to the ORIGINAL SOURCE and the other is spoon fed second hand material that may or may not be true.
In 25 years of teaching youth, you can imagine the vast array of lessons I have taught. Because I’ve served at Biblical Churches under Biblical Pastors, most of the material has been Biblical – but the students may never know that. With the exception of the couple of years I taught Teen Precepts, Biblical youth lessons are broken down and spit out in topical sound bites for the students to chew on – too bad most don’t have much meat.
Bible Royalty Free Stock Image - 19021886
Students are rarely, if ever, taught how to read and study the Bible as it was written.

What’s wrong with this?

Students don’t read the Bible at home for themselves nor are they encouraged to do so. 
a.       Students have the misconception that the Bible is “too hard” for them to read on their own. They believe they must be told by someone older and wiser what the Bible says.
b.      This is simply not true! Taken from simply an academic point of view the Bible is no harder to read than the Shakespeare and Hawthorne they are reading in school.
c.       Taken from a Christian view, the Bible can be read and understood because the Holy Spirit interprets it for each Christian as he or she reads it. Which brings me to my next point …
2.      The way most lessons are taught negates the work of the Holy Spirit in the individual’s life.
a.       The writer of the lesson is led by the Holy Spirit. He is inspired by Scripture, keys the main points that God is speaking to him, and writes specific applications for a teen’s life.
b.      The youth is not given the opportunity to read the passage of scripture for himself, listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say to him in how to apply it to his specific situation in life.
Sidenote: I was recently at a woman’s conference in which a pastor’s wife told me that although she had been a Christian for 20 years, it was the first time she had heard the Holy Spirit speak to her through scripture. Sad.
3.      Christian youth are buying into relativism.
a.       Relativism = belief that there is no absolute truth. The truth is pragmatic and changes with the person and the circumstance
b.      If youth don’t know Scripture for themselves they can’t justify a definitive standard of truth
4.      Youth are unable to defend the Word of God and what it says.
a.       All they know is what they have been told 4th hand – what a teacher told them that a lesson told them that the author learned from the scripture. Hopefully the teachers are reading the scriptures themselves, but even so the student’s knowledge is 3nd hand.
5.      Students are susceptible to cults
The number one converts to Mormonism and Jehovah Witness are Baptists. Wow. Why?
a.       Here’s how the cults teach the Bible. A Bible student studies a pamphlet, or lesson that tells them what the Bible says. Then they are directed to a passage of scripture to read. When they read the scripture they automatically interpret it however they were pre-told to do so. The student then says, “The Bible says …” even if that Bible verse was taken out of context and it is not what the Bible is actually saying. This is true from personal experience, my husband was raised Jehovah Witness
b.      This is how we most often teach our students as well. We interpret for them before they read the Bible. Even if the interpretation is correct, the methodology leaves them open for false doctrine to creep in.

What can the church do?

1.Check the spiritual heart and pulse of the students. 
If the students have no desire to read God’s Word – I question if they are even Christians. 
The Bible makes it clear that those who love the Lord crave his World.
Psalm 119:20; 103
My Soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. 
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.

 Peter 2:2
Like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted the Lord is good.

If they have no craving – maybe it is because they have not yet tasted the Lord’s goodness. Start here – lead them to read passages on who God is. Talk about your own personal relationship with God. Lead them to water, so they thirst for Him.

2. Make it a priority to get students reading the Bible for themselves
Once upon a time, there was a 6th Grade Sunday School teacher. He paid his students to read the Bible and journal what the Holy Spirit told them. Sometimes parents questioned his “bribery” methodology. To which he replied, “In America, money motivates people.” He taught kids to read their Bibles for 25 years, and then he died. At his funeral, there was a line of former students waiting to speak. 35 year olds as well as 15 year olds stood and said the same thing, “I still read my Bible today, because of Mr. Williams.” My two older kids were blessed to have him as a teacher, and credit him for starting their passion for God’s Word. Like my own kids, many of his former students are heavily involved in ministry – because learning to read God’s Word, and reading it changes people.

3. Teach by example

A.Study a Book of the Bible with students – not just topical lessons
B. Begin lesson by praying that the Holy Spirit will teach you through his word.
C. Read passage of scripture together
D. Ask the students: What does it say? – It is very important to teach them to look at what it says before jumping into interpretation. 
E. Ask: What does it mean?
F. Ask: What does it have to do with me? What sticks out to you? What is the Holy Spirit telling you through this passage of scripture?
The awesome thing about this is that the Holy Spirit can give the students different applications or teaching or comfort depending on where each student is spiritually and what he is dealing with in life. God has the perfect lesson for each student. 

If we want to hang on to more than 20% of the youth sitting in our youth worship services, they need to be reading the Bible FOR THEMSELVES before they graduate and walk out of the church doors. It is the only hope for the church and the only hope in maintaining a Christian nation.

I’ve been informed that Wikipedia has pretty accurate information, however anyone can log in and change the content, and the content is not always fact checked by experts. It is good to read for a basic understanding of an issue – but if you want to know the “truth” you need to read and study original sources. Likewise, most youth lessons and material have great lessons on life – they are written by Spirit filled individuals – and one can learn the general facts of Christianity. However, if one wants to know the “truth” and if one wants an ongoing relationship and conversation with the Creator – one must go the the original source – God’s Word. 


Life – PG18

Movies. Video Games. Television.  Music. Why not Life?
Hollywood is forced to admit that bad language, adult content, violence, and drug abuse is not appropriate “mind food” for teens. Music warns parents that lyrics may not be appropriate for growing brains. Parents are strongly cautioned against allowing their minor children to watch TV shows. And Video game designers warn that games are “too mature” for children under 17.
Life – PG18. Daily doses of “bad” language, sexual content, bullying, ungodly and/or unbiblical ideology require parental guidance until at least the age of 18.
Somehow, we have created an American Myth which says that small children need their parents and teens need their peers. I would like to interject a PG13 phrase here. TEENS NEED PARENTS.

Number One Reason Homeschool Debaters develop lifelong love of the Lord and youth group students don’t is …  PARENTAL GUIDANCE

Most all homeschool debate teams require parents to be a part of the team. They run tournaments, judge, coach, drive students around the state. And that’s not including all of the dinner and car discussions kids get into with their parents about how to solve world hunger, or how America can reform it’s justice system. They may not be talking about “Jesus” or the “Bible,” but there are important elements in these conversations which lead kids into a deeper faith in Christ. Kids see first hand how their parents live their lives for Christ. The more time kids spend with their parents the more likely they are to accept their values and lifestyle. And they are setting up an environment of communication in which faith can be passed along through words. 

The love of the Lord is caught and not taught. This takes time. This takes planned effort. I realize God has not called everyone to homeschool, but He has called every parent to talk to their children when they get up, and when they go to bed, and when they walk through life, and when they’re at home and when they’re out and about (Deut 6). Homeschooling is the easy way – parents with kids are in school and sports,or band – need to be even more creative and persistent to make this happen. But it is possible.

When my grown kids were still too young to watch PG13 movies, I took a group of students to a Church conference. It got out super late and we still had a couple of hours drive home. I drove each student home, well after midnight. I waited in front of the house as each student pulled their house key out of their purse and quietly snuck into their home in order to not disturb their family. And then, something happened which etched an impression on my mind that I will never forget. Around 2:00 am I pulled up to a student’s home and the lights were all on. Her mom ran outside to hug and greet her daughter on her return.
The mother said, “Honey, There’s hot coco and cookies on the table. I’ll be there in a minute to talk.”
She turned to me, “Thanks for taking her.”
“I’m surprised you’re up.”
She replied, “You have to be there at the moment of excitement to hear all about it. I figure if I stay up half the night just to listen to my daughter, she’ll realize how important I think she is and how important serving the Lord is.”
As I drove away, I vowed to God that I would be that type of parent for my teenagers. And as a side note, that girl is now in her 30s and is still serving the Lord passionately.
Along with spending time to show and tell kids about daily life with Christ, parents need to set proper priorities. With our mouths we say, “God is first” but is that what we really think and act upon?
The Barna Group conducted a survey entitled, “Parents Describe How they Raise Their Children.” They asked parents what they wanted most for their kids. Christian parents answered “a good education.” In fact, less than half as many Christian parents said that having a relationship with Christ was more important than an education. Indirectly, as well as directly, Christian parents are prioritizing education as a means of succeeding in this life over living for Christ as a means to succeed eternally.This is scary. Parents need change their own mindsets and priorities. Every youth minister knows the reality of this when students constantly miss Bible study for homework assignments. As parents, what we say is not always what we are acting out priority-wise. 
So what can the church learn from homeschool debate? 
Parents must be involved in their students life. As a church we need to stop isolating them from each other. Here’s a few ideas on how to get students and parents interacting:
1) Parenting Classes – This is just the tip of the iceburg. Reading a box about how to change a diaper is not the same thing as changing one – but it’s a start. Our society teaches parents to be scared of teens – if we can educate parents of 5th and 6th graders of the joys to come – we are setting the stage for joyful parent-teen relationship through Jr. High and Highschool. We can also train parents how make Christ number one priority and how to pass that along to their kids. 
2) Family Life Group – Instead of age-grouping everyone, why not have a Life Group/Small Group for families? I visited a Family Bible study with a friend who attends a “family church.” It was exciting to see the teens talking freely about the Bible with their peers and their parents. My friends told me that just watching the other parents interact with their teens had helped their family communicate better. The students where comfortable with the adults in the room as well as patient with younger siblings. 
3) Quarterly Parent Teen Activities – parties, camp outs, family against family competitions, anything to get the parents and teens interacting and having fun together builds relationships. The students who come without a parent can be attached to a family. 
4) Encourage families to sit together in worship instead of teens sitting with their peers. Encourage them to discuss the sermon over Sunday lunch. 
If the church is going to survive the 21st Century – we must keep our children from leaving when they graduate. This will only happen when we have committed parents spending time with their teens. Our church can not loose sight to the importance parents have on their kids and must make building family relations a top goal of youth ministry. 
Children should come with a warning label:
Caution: this child takes significant amounts of time and energy. Adult supervision is required. Life is PG18. 

What Youth Ministry Can Learn from Debate (Into)

Yes – I love them!

I love teens. 

Other than being a mom, my passion in life is working with Christian teenagers. I have taught youth at church for 25 years and coached or taught Christian homeschool teens speech and debate for 15 years. 

Some of my greatest blessing in life have come from working with teenagers and being a part of their growing process. As my students move out of my hands and into the world, I see bright young people who love the Lord and are excited to conquer the world. Many ARE conquering the world. 

Three of my greatest blessings!

I tell you with great pride that I have influential students. I have students who are in full time ministry- locally and abroad.  I have many students who are involved in politics at some level. I have students who have written books, students who have produced movies, students who are national conference speakers, students on the radio and on TV, students who are working to end human trafficking, and students who are influencing the next generation by being stay at home moms and teachers like myself. In all these areas of influence these students are standing strong for the Lord and are society’s hope that we will continue to be a Christian nation. 

Some of my greatest disappointments have come from pouring my heart, soul and time into teens and seeing them live a life apart from God. These teens walked out the front door of the church when they were 18 and have not yet returned. Some of them are struggling and sad, but the majority, live what others call the “American Dream.” They may appear successful and happy, but their success will be burnt to ashes because it is not for the glory of God. 

From my 25 years of experience and from my observations, the first group of students who are living to make an impact on society were my debate students, the group which has fallen away is my church students.

From my experience I’ve found


2 out of 10 Church Youth Group Students continue serving God after high school


9 out of 10 Debate Students continue serving the Lord!

My experience correlates with recent statistics on teens who drop out of church and walk away from their faith – I don’t believe, however, any studies have been done on debate students
This totally and completely breaks my heart.  I have cried out to God so many times, “What am I doing wrong? Why is the church failing to build a lasting faith in it’s students?” Then I realized I was asking the wrong questions, “What is home school debate doing right? How are they building students who make a difference for Christ? What can the church learn from debate?”

 What’s the difference?

There is not one answer, especially not a simple one. After much prayer and research I’d like to delve into these questions and discuss some of my answers in the next few blog posts.