Why You Should Never Give Up On High School Seniors

Why You Should Never Give Up On High School Seniors

After nearly three decades in youth ministry I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard people say, “By the time they are seniors… you might as well give up on them.” And it’s the one statement I couldn’t disagree with more!

SeniorsHere’s the truth. I’ve seen high school seniors make that “11th hour decision” that changed the course of their life. And I’ve seen it happen often.

In April of my senior year of high school, I completely changed course. I filled out an application to go to college, received an acceptance letter within ten days and started making plans to go five hundred miles away to study youth ministry. That was in 1981… and I’m still on that path. Thank God people didn’t give up on me.

Realize this. High school seniors are in a position where all the key decisions they are wrestling to make are what I call “directional decisions.” The decisions they are making will change the direction of their life. If adults who care about them will continue to believe in them, invest in them, nurture and guide them, you will be amazed to see what God can do. So never give up on a teenager… especially a high school senior.

Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”

5 Things To Know and Understand About Your High School Senior

  1. They Are Happy about Where They Are in Life – There is a “spike” in their level of happiness because they are looking forward to seeing the future unfold. Don’t throw cold water on their joy. Take the opportunity to inspire them and teach them. Seize the unique opportunity you have now to talk then through true spiritual lessons of where true joy comes from. You might even set up some “one on one” talks between your teen and some trusted adults who have great lessons to share about their own experience with God and times of great joy.
  2. They Are Apprehensive – As exciting as it may be to see the “finish line” of high school, they are also apprehensive about all that lies ahead. They want and need your input but seek to give it in a spirit of a coach and mentor from the sidelines, helping them transition to confident adulthood. This is not the time to pull away even though it may feel like that is what they want. It is the time to modify your approach to “coach from the sideline” while still always being available. Before you know it they are going to be asking you, “What do you think I should do?” And you will be in a great position to answer.
  3. They Are Moving Away From Peer Pressure and Toward Adult Influencers – An 18 year old is less dominated by peer pressure. They are feeling more independent and are looking away from hundreds of classmates and looking forward to finding a few close friendships with adults. They are starting to form closer bonds with a few trusted friends. Their values and beliefs will be affected by those few close relationships. Be one of those close adult friends and pray fervently for God to bring the right “influencers” into their life.
  4. They Want You To Be Proud of Them, Not Sad About Them Growing Up – Your 18 year old is ready to roll with a high level of enthusiasm and they will make some mistakes while learning to adapt. You are proud of your accomplishments too! You raised your child to be an independent adult! But you will deal with your own sadness of letting go. Don’t let your sadness dominate and don’t burden your teen with it either. They are excited and want to see that you are excited for them.
  5. They Are About To Become More Fun Than Ever – It’s true! You will begin to see a shift in your teen’s thinking. They are going to start seeing their parents as much more valuable. They will notice and process what mom and dad have accomplished in life at home, at work and as a family unit. They start seeing parents through adult eyes and will desire more and more to be connected on an adult level to you as a parent. It’s important that you have kept a strong foundation in your relationship with your teen so you can enjoy this next stage without having to struggle through emotional baggage and unresolved hurt from the past.

Remember, of all the billions of families on earth, God placed that child in your home! He has clearly created a great plan for you and your teen. Now is the time to engage with your son or daughter and enjoy it more than ever!

What I Learned From 200-300 Boarding School Students – God Is…

What I Learned From 200-300 Boarding School Students – God Is…

Last week I had the opportunity to take a trip to French Camp, Mississippi to speak to the students at French Camp Academy. This was my second trip in about six months to be with these amazing people. I first learned of French Camp Academy by plopping down at a breakfast table while attending a ministry conference last winter and meeting Todd Marion. We were all focused on our stomachs and talking around the table about who we are, where we are from and what we do. Todd asked me what I do in Tennessee and I told him I work with high-risk and fatherless youth. We talked briefly about teens and Todd said, “You would love our place and you should come visit.” I asked him what kind of place he was talking about and he went on to tell me about French Camp Academy, a Christian boarding school tucked away in this little town of French Camp, Mississippi. The boarding school ministry has been there since 1885! Following that conversation was an invitation to come speak in chapel at the school last spring and another invitation to come back last week to speak in the Wednesday evening service and Thursday morning chapel. I was able to bring a good friend with me on this trip to share the ministry with him. Hoss Johnson lives up to his name because he’s a “Hoss” of a guy who played football at Alabama from ’82-’86 and had a short NFL career. Just five weeks ago Hoss left his job to go in to full-time sports ministry. Hoss shared his heart with these students and how God has worked in his life through the unfortunate death of his wife ten years ago and how God has been so faithful as he raised his son and daughter as a single dad.


My time at French Camp was amazing and refreshing. If you can imagine immersing yourself in a ministry surrounded by hundreds of students who are coming from extremely difficult family situations. Some of them can’t go home… it’s just not possible because home has become French Camp. Not all students that attend French Camp Academy come from broken homes but the heart and purpose of their existence is to glorify God and impact young people while providing a safe, stable, Christ centered place to heal and grow.

Here are some things I observed while being immersed in the ministry of 200-300 students and staff at the French Camp Academy Boarding School.

  1. God is good. I can only imagine the turmoil that could overtake a child’s emotions when the family falls apart but yet there is incredible hope in that God is good and He provided a new place and new people to provide love and care. One student told me with a huge smile that God is really good and he feels so incredibly blessed that God provided this family for him. Have you noticed that God often replaces things you’ve lost in life with something new? Have you thanked Him lately for that?
  2. There is a tremendous joy in serving. The staff that serve the youth at French Camp have a joyful spirit… there is a sense of value in what they are investing in with their life and it shows. Have you noticed that when you invest in others, there is a renewed spirit of joy?FrenchCampStudentsFootball
  3. The harder things bring the greater rewards. I noticed the staff working long hours, the house parents that have chosen to live with 10-15 teenagers and be “mom and dad” and I imagined by interacting with the high-quality people that lead this ministry that they have made financial sacrifices to be there but they didn’t ever mention anything about sacrifice. There was much more of a spirit of reward. It struck me that there are great rewards that come in doing the hard things. Have you considered the rewards that are coming from something hard you are doing right now? Is there something you feel God leading you to do but you are holding back because it looks really hard?

I’d love to get hear from you. Take a minute and answer one of these questions. Your comments could have a big impact on our readers.

What have you lost but seen God replace in your life? Where have you served and found great joy in doing it? What hard thing do you feel you need to start and what is holding you back?


Learn how you can join our support team for as little as $15 per month here www.kenturnerministries.org/give

High Impact Teens Partners with National Anti-Bullying Program Angels and Doves

High Impact Teens Partners with National Anti-Bullying Program Angels and Doves

High Impact Teens Partners with National Anti-Bullying Program Angels and Doves

“Classmates are killing themselves… literally.” As I stood before hundreds of public school students in Rhea County and Roane County Tennessee to introduce Kim Harvey of Angels and Doves, the National Anti-Bullying Program for schools and youth organizations, I made the statement to the students… “Your classmates are killing themselves. All across America students are going home from school to commit suicide because the treatment they receive at school has become so intense they feel no hope for a life that is bearable, so they end it by taking their own life.”

The team of presenters not only included Kim Harvey of Angels and Doves based in Indianapolis, Indiana but also former University of Tennessee football player Inky Johnson as well as musician and songwriter Scott Roley of Franklin, Tennessee. Kim founded the Angels and Doves National Anti-Bullying Program and has presented her message in a way that has reshaped the culture on many school campuses. I met Kim at an event we participated in together in July 2012 at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center in Indianapolis focused on anti-violence. After Kim presented the keynote presentation on bullying to the students, Inky Johnson shared his story of incredible success as a UT football player who was on track to an illustrious NFL career but his life plans were altered when he made a tackle in his junior year at UT and almost lost his life from the injuries he received. Although his life was spared, he now lives daily with a paralyzed right arm. Inky’s message was powerful as he explained that he went from a person with incredible God-given athletic ability to a person with a disability. But, he is still just as valuable with or without the use of his right arm. He challenged the students to treat all classmates with respect and seek to know each other’s story of life. Scott Roley closed the presentation with a story about his dad and an anger problem that was passed down through the generations of his family. He sang a song he wrote about his dad and how he had taken his dad’s anger problem and embraced it and then passed it down. The song titled, “The Old Man Came Back Last Night” was a powerful closing message to all our students.

Our team made presentations in Spring City Middle School, Rhea Central, Roane County High School, Rockwood High School and Rockwood Middle School. Local businesses and churches sponsored our presentations in Rhea County and the Roane County Anti-Drug Coalition was our signature sponsor for the programs in Roane County.

To learn more check out the following websites:

Angels and Doves http://angelsanddoves.com

Inky Johnson http://www.inkyjohnson.com

Scott Roley http://www.scottroley.com

High Impact Teens https://kenturnerministries.org

High Impact Teen Mentoring Team at the All Pro Dad NFL Experience at the Indianapolis Colts Facility

High Impact Teen Mentoring Team at the All Pro Dad NFL Experience at the Indianapolis Colts Facility

High Impact Teens was invited to be the official provider of mentors at the All Pro Dad Father and Kids NFL Experience held at the Indianapolis Colts training facility. The event was held on August 25. A limited number of fathers and kids were invited to attend and High Impact Teens was there to provide mentors for a group of young people who attended from Indianapolis without dads.

This special event was filmed for TV simulcast to be aired on January 13, 2013 at 1:00 PM.

Our ministry is blessed to have some great ministry partners! They are people who volunteer in various capacities throughout the year and those who make the commitment to support the ministry to make it all possible. Without our volunteers and donors we wouldn’t exist.

On a personal note, my weekend in Indianapolis was filled with a lot of “behind the scenes” experiences. I travelled from Tennessee up to Indy on Friday, August 24 to join Darrin Gray. Darrin is the National Development Director for All Pro Dad and one of my best friends. We met after I started our outreach ministry in Indianapolis a few years ago and we have chosen to share our “ministry platforms” together ever since. The weekend of events included me picking up Darrin at his house north of Indianapolis, loading up all kinds of books, displays and giveaways for a whirlwind of activities.

We headed over to the Colts Training Facility to meet with Derrick Boles of Leadership 1st and Lorenzo Neal. These guys were awesome to spend time with. We discussed some of our ministry goals, shared ideas about outreach and brainstormed about some ministry plans for the future. Derrick and Lorenzo are great guys and have a great vision for youth. And they are funny! We had a lot of laughs over the weekend.

We picked up Tony Dungy and Mark Merrill at the airport and headed straight to Riley Hospital for some visits with kids who are battling illness. Clark Kellogg met us at the hospital and our group got bigger and bigger. We were walking the halls with Tony Dungy, Clark Kellogg, Darrin Gray, Mark Merrill, Derrick Boles, Lorenzo Neal and key hospital staff members visiting kids.

We left the hospital and headed over the the Lucas Oil Mansion. Tony Dungy and Clark Kellogg spoke to a group of invited guests to raise money for Kids Voice.

Saturday was filled with activities at the Colts Training Facility with over 700 fathers and kids filing the TV simulcast for Lifeway. http://www.lifeway.com/Event/Adult-Event-All-Pro-Dad-Simulcast

We are always looking to grow our ministry team. If you would like to be a part of what we do… contact us!

Email me at kenturner@highimpactteens.org

For our youth,

Ken Turner


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