The math homework session played out as a jumble of confusion — that is, until a frustrated father, trying to help, asked his son what was really on his mind.
Parent James Simonton of Columbus still remembers the real-life, illuminating example from the first time he heard parenting teacher and speaker Reggie Joiner during a presentation near Atlanta.
“I have to learn how to dance, Dad,” said the stressed son in Joiner’s parable. “The prom is in two weeks, and I don’t know how to dance.
“And if I don’t know what I am doing, then I will embarrass myself in front of my date and all my friends.”
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Therein lay the root of the young man’s worried calculating. It allowed the father to call for a timeout and summon immediate help from his daughter, for starters.
Joiner, still recognized among the foremost Christian parenting gurus nationwide, will bring his wisdom to a free presentation from 6 to 8:30 p.m. March 4 at The Ridge church, 2800 Bonnell Road in Columbus.
Joiner will speak along with Kristen Ivy, who works with Joiner’s Orange ministry, on a teen-oriented message, “It’s Just a Phase, So Don’t Miss It.”
Both Joiner and Ivy regularly remind parents that young people’s struggles and challenges actually are more than just a phase. They remind parents that such experiences are a time when Mom and Dad are called to help their children and teens navigate a challenging pathway.
Joiner can be seen laughing in video clips when people refer to him as a parenting expert, although his credentials include a range of hugely popular ministry materials for children, including when he served at Pastor Andy Stanley’s sprawling North Point Community Church — which Joiner helped launch in Alpharetta, Georgia. Plus, he is the author of nationally best-selling books such as “Losing Your Marbles,” “Playing For Keeps” and “Parenting Beyond Your Capacity.”
“I’m not an expert at anything,” Joiner has said in interviews.
Melanie Klinker, The Ridge’s children’s ministry director, recalled one big take-away when she heard Joiner speak a few years ago.
“The biggest impact it had on me personally was just realizing how short my time is with my kids, and how I need to make every day count,” Klinker said. “I was encouraged to be intentional about showing up in my kids lives, whatever phase they are in.”
Joiner also is known for taking off some of the pressure Christian families may feel to be flawless.
“What I don’t find in the Bible are perfect models of what families should look like,” Joiner has said in presentations.
For example, he mentions that the biblical first family in Adam and Eve is a story replete with heartache.
“Reggie is such a great communicator,” said Simonton, who with his wife raised two daughters and two sons. “And he offers great and very practical advice.”
Randy Gilbert, student ministries pastor at The Ridge, emphasized that the parenting presentation is for anyone, whether they are Christian or non-Christian.
“We know how important it is to equip parents in general and to give them tools to help with their teens,” said Gilbert, the dad of a teen daughter.
He added that he understands that some parents may feel discouraged or as if they already have lost their teen to other influences.
“But the key to mending any broken relationship eventually will be in time spent together,” Gilbert said.
Who: Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy, speakers, authors and originators of a wide range of parenting resources via their reThink Group ministry based near Atlanta.
When: Speaking from 6 to 8:30 in a teen-focused presentation titled, “It’s Just a Phase, So Don’t Miss It.”
Where: The Ridge church, 2800 Bonnell Road in Columbus.
About your other kids: Activities will be offered for youngsters through fifth grade so parents can enjoy the program. Organizers are encouraging parents to call the church ahead of time so The Ridge can know how many youngsters to prepare for.
Admission: Free. But organizers are encouraging people to reserve free tickets so the church can know how many people are attending.
Information: 812-376-8455 or theridge.org.
Background: Reggie Joiner, a father four grown children, is the founder and CEO of the Georgia-based reThink Group, a nonprofit organization providing resources and training to help churches “maximize their influence on the spiritual growth of the next generation,” as he puts it.
The reThink Group provides curriculum resources and training for leaders who work with preschoolers, children, families and students. They have partners throughout the United States and eight other countries.
Website and resources: rethinkgroup.org.