Good relationships are vital to health. Family relationships, especially, are fundamental in equipping children to live a happy and successful life. Achieving strong family relationships take care, work, and effort. It is no surprise to anyone that the teen years bring challenges that can threaten good, positive relationships between parents and their children. There is hope, however, of combating these challenges and maintaining or developing strong, healthy relationships with your teens.

parent-teen relationships

ParentFurther is an online resource that has tools to help families strengthen relationships through shared activities. They have identified 5 research-backed relationship strategies to help us learn and grow with each other.


We all need to know that we are cared about. Teens especially need to feel that their parents care about them. Care is shown when we listen, when we are warm to each other, when we invest in each other, when show interest, and when we are dependable. Research shows that when children and youth have warm caring relationships, they do better in school, have less risky-behavior, work harder, and have a hopeful sense of purpose.


Challenging occurs is many forms in the parent-child relationship. Part of a parent’s role is to challenge their child to grow, learn, and improve. Inspire your teen to see future possibilities for themselves. Give expectations that are clear and communicate that you want your child to live up to their potential. Stretch your child by encouraging them to push beyond their abilities Provide limitations that hold your child accountable to rules and expectations


Support also come is many ways, but there can never be too much of it! Supporting your teen in practical and noticeable ways occurs through encouragement, guidance, modeling, and advocating. As relationships are two-way, so is support. It is good for parents to have support from other adults as a model for your teens.


“Sharing power” refers to the actions used to influence, learn from, and work with each other. How do you share power then? In our relationships it looks like sharing respect, negotiating (giving each other a voice in making decisions that affect them), responding to each other, and collaborating to accomplishing goals and solve problems.


Trying new things, meeting new people, going to new places, and thinking about new ideas are all ways in which you can expand possibilities for yourself and for your teen. Help your teen explore by exposing them to new people, places, and things. Connect them to others that can help them grow. Navigate through problems that could prevent them from expanding their possibilities with them.

Visit parentfurther.com for more information about these strategies and to read about the research backing them. You will also find quizzes and discussion questions to ask your teens.

I highly recommend you visit their website and take their free inventory to see growth areas in your own parenting skills with teenagers.

How Youth Ministry Attracts Kids to Jesus

Jesus Christ appeals to every kind of person. The young, the old, the fisherman, the tax collector, the scribe, the rich, the blind beggar, Mary and Martha, and the woman caught in adultery; all heard him and were drawn to him. One reason people are drawn to Jesus is because we can relate with him.



Jesus knows what it is like to grow up. He was a baby, a boy, a teenager, and a mature adult. He worked in his father’s shop just like boys today learn from their dad or grandfather how to fix a car, work with tools, or plant a garden. Just like adolescents today have to patiently study in school, learn life skills, and wait to set sail out into the world on their own, Jesus spent many years in Nazareth as an adolescent before his official ministry was launched. We need to remember that although Jesus was fully God, he was also fully human.

Lessons Learned from Nepal Earthquake & How You Can Help

Leaders and decision-makers are critical in times of crisis. We have been investing in leaders in Nepal for the past 10 years and we are hoping to be able to encourage and resource them as much as we can as they prayerfully step into relief work that few are prepared to do. As of today 5,000 are reported dead and estimates are that those numbers may rise to 10,000. Relief agencies are on the ground providing food, water, shelter, and medical help. But there is also a long term need of coming alongside leaders who will have the will and the ability to follow through on projects to help rebuild people’s lives.


If you are wanting to find a way to help, I’ve listed below a few resources that may be of interest if you know people in Nepal or just want to get involved…. (read more)…

Nepal Earthquake Relief. Will You Help?

Yesterday morning a destructive earthquake shook central Nepal causing significant damage and loss of life. I am in contact with several pastors who I have known for the past 10 years and by God’s grace the people who I know directly are safe, yet some of them have probably lost friends or relatives. At the moment the families are living in tents outside because the buildings are unstable and aftershocks are still coming (and will be for months most likely). I’m staying in constant communication with those I can reach to get updates.

Nepal Earthquake 2015

The death toll from the Himalayan Earthquake is over 3,500 today and continues to rise especially as relief agencies venture out into the villages. Most of the news is coming out of Kathmandu, but the epicenter was between Kathmandu and Pokhara (where I spend most of my time there) so in the coming days the destruction to villages will become more known to us.

The pastors who I’ve been working with are uniquely positioned to reach out to many of the rural villages surrounding Pokhara. One leader has been literally hiking into villages for years and years to share the Gospel and equip churches in youth ministry in these remote areas. He travels into some of the poorest regions of Nepal where relief agencies will likely not have a significant presence in the coming days as they will set up their centers in the larger cities.


Some of the villages we will likely visit: Chapang (the poorest people group in Nepal), Tirsuli, Ghorka (90% of houses are damaged), Barpak, Shading, Lanajhung. Information is barely available yet for villages in the epicenter, so a long relief effort is anticipated.

Nepal earthquake

We have made a plan to leave in a few days to join up with our partners in Kathmandu and Pokhara to accomplish a few simple goals:

  1. ENCOURAGE: Encourage and support our partners who are leaders of leaders as they begin a very long journey to restoring lives and communities.
  2. ASSESS: Assess the situation in several cities and remote villages where our partners have the most significant relationships. We will make plans for follow up visits, short term missions projects, and immediate financial needs.
  3. AID: Offer some financial assistance for food, water, shelter, medical supplies and transportation. Transportation is something we have known is a problem for a long time, and we have decided that now is the time to try to get them a 4WD vehicle for their ministry. This will also greatly enable leaders who can assess and make decisions while visiting less reached areas of Nepal.
  4. FOLLOW UP: In the coming months we will determine how to come along side the churches and leaders we know to maximize their potential to get glory for God in the midst of this trial.


In faith, we have a goal, to raise $25,000 in the next 5 days. If you would like to contribute to this initial relief effort please follow the link below to give online. We consider your gifts a sacred trust, and it will all go directly to those who are most in need and those who can lead and facilitate the distribution of resources with the best stewardship possible. Please respond by Friday, May 1, 2015 and GIVE at:


Thank you for your support. We will report back to you as we learn more and see how God is working in the midst of this difficult trial.

How the Cross Draws Secret Believers out of Hiding

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. (John 19:38-39)

Hans sharing about secret believers in Austria

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had significant influence in the Jewish community and had kept their faith a secret all the way up to the day Jesus died on the cross. But witnessing all that happened that day and the last breath of Jesus on that cross changed everything. They threw caution to the wind and asked Pilate for his body. Then single-handedly in the light of day, they prepared his body for burial. Working together and quickly to lay him to rest before sundown (the beginning of the Sabbath), these two secret believers made their love for Jesus a spectacle. Joseph’s tomb was near the hill upon which Jesus had died, so their work to lay him to rest would have been visible to all.

A 15 Minute Devotional Format for Busy Students – Try “PALS”

One of the highlights of my week is when I meet at a nearby cafe at 6:45 a.m., Friday mornings with my son and 8-12 of his friends who are high school juniors. All we do is drink coffee, eat cinnamon rolls, and spend 15 minutes discussing a passage of Scripture and how it might relate to their lives and their school.

Cafe open - PALS 10 Minute Devo

Students are busy these days. I wish I could change that, but just like surfing… its not very effective to fight against the wave, it usually works out better to just ride it. So I’ve started using a 10 Minute Devotional format I call “PALS.”

15 Ways to Help Students Find Peace they are Longing for through the Gospel…

As a youthworker or parent, to give hope and solace to teenagers, we need to tell them how to find peace. The world has questions. The Bible has answers. Students, ages 13-25 in particular are beginning to shift from a totally concrete view of the world to a more abstract perspective.

bible outdoors

This means that adolescence is a time where we begin to process our environment and relationships by asking lots of questions. Most of these questions go unspoken, but they are there if you dig for them.


photo by Thomas HainesI have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! -Galatians 2:20-21

Our faith muscles are strengthened as we meditate on the grace of God, not on his impossible standards.

Can you imagine ever saying to someone that “Christ died for nothing!”? Yet the Apostle Paul says that in our actions and in our beliefs we may as well be saying that out loud. That is really convicting. I think leaders in particular sometimes get baited by performance, goals and expectations put on them and fall into this trap of trying to live up to impossible standards.