First Free Rockford is pleased to welcome Meredith Domanico as its new Director of Student Ministries.
Meredith has worked in student ministries for nearly 13 years. She grew up in Libertyville and is looking to relocate to the Rock River Valley as she settles in at First Free. Meredith is married to her husband, Matt, and they have a 13-year-old son, Antonio.
She earned her marketing degree at DePaul University and worked in radio for several years. Additionally, she helped manage a hair salon owned by her sister.
In transitioning to church work, Meredith said, “The Lord just opened a door to ministry.” She started volunteering with students in junior high and high school through her former home church, The Chapel campus in McHenry. That work led to her becoming the student ministries pastor, and her love of working with church members in that younger age range has continued to develop.
“What I love about student ministries is it’s such a real environment. There’s such a desire to be known and in the community together, and to be vulnerable and authentic with each other,” she said. “They ask the hard questions. Once they’re comfortable, they take risks, worship without abandon and invite their friends. I love how we have the opportunity to be the place that looks different than the hallways at school.”
Her involvement with church intensified after college. She recalled attending a Saturday night service many years ago and hearing the voice of God say, “You’ve been coming (to church) – now it’s time to give.”
She was attracted to First Free through interactions with senior leadership, and she was looking for a new challenge.
“I was comfortable where I was at. But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable,” she said. “I met with the senior leadership team here, and we clicked really well. I’ve been letting God really direct me, and things kept getting more and more clear.”
She looks forward to helping build and create new directions for the youth program. “I love to mentor and disciple people, just do life together.”
In addition to regular Sunday and Wednesday student programming, you can find Meredith during her Around Town Tuesdays sessions at local coffee shops and restaurants. She’s doing them twice a month, and they’re a time for students to gather, do homework, and talk about life, school, Jesus – the format is wide open.
We are in the midst of our first annual Family Summit. This is an opportunity for us to come together of all ages to worship and learn together. Our goal is to encourage all families of our church to look to Jesus together. Last night we discussed how we can look to Jesus while parenting in a technological world.
I was privileged to be able to teach the parents on this topic. My primary goal was to give very practical resources to the parents to help monitor and protect their student from addictions and dangers. But before I summarize those resources, I want to remind us of why we need to set up boundaries and rules with technology.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in the house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.
As parents and the leading adults in a child’s life; your job is to create an culture in your home that is centered on loving God. In all things, at all times, you must be encouraging your student to love the Lord with everything they have. And that includes technology.
These resources below are suggestions to help protect and monitor your student. You best know your student and their habits, so you decide what is helpful.
Movies and TV: Have you ever wondered if the show or movie your family is about to watch is appropriate? Well with these two apps, you can not only learn what the movie is about but also what inappropriate content is in the movie. Both of these apps are free!
Plugged In: This app comes from “Focus on the Family”. This app gives you a plot summary, the positive elements, the negative elements, and the potential spiritual elements. This app is really solid for recent movies.
IMDB: This app is a big go-to for me. This app shows you all the actors, trailers, and information you could ever need on a movie or show. But the best part is that for each TV show and movie, there is a section called “parent’s guide”. This will tell you all of the inappropriate content in the movie or show. And in some shows, it goes episode by episode.
Built In Phone Settings: Your smart phone and tablet have settings built in that just need to be turned on. I am going to share two settings in an iphone or ipad. There are several more and here is a link for more information.
(If you are an android user, here is a linkwith instructions for you. But I would recommend installing another filtering program…like mobicip.)
Guided Access: This setting, when turned on, only allows the user to remain in a single app. So if you have a child who loves to play a game on your ipad, but you are fearful they will accidentally send an email or delete something, turn on guided access. The only way for them to turn off this feature is to put in your customized pin code. This feature also allows you to set up time limits so that your child or student doesn’t play the game too long.
How to turn it on: SETTINGS –>GENERAL –>ACCESSIBILITY –> GUIDED ACCESS.
Restrictions: This setting is a must for all apple devices in your house. Under this setting, you can restrict adult content from being searched on websites. So if your child or student is trying to search for something inappropriate, it will block them. Also, this setting allows you to turn off the ability to download apps, movies, facetime, etc.
How to turn it on: SETTINGS –>GENERAL –>RESTRICTIONS –>WEBSITES
Programs, Filters, and Monitoring: Laptops and Home Computer Filtering:
If you have a home computer or a laptop in your home, you may want to make sure that there is a program installed to monitor and filter all internet activity.
Covenant Eyes: This is a solid program that filters out content and sends you, the parent, reports of what your child is searching for online. It costs $15 a month and is worth it.
X3 Watch: This is a free program that works great. It does not filter but it tracks Internet activity and sends reports of inappropriate searches.
Limiting Time on Devices: If you have a phone or tablet addicted child, then you may want to look into setting up time limits.
–Screen Time: This app allows you to set up time limits, schedules, and shut down on devices. There is both a paid and free version.
Phone Browsers: This is the big one. With the continually rise of pornography, we must be doing all that we can to protect our student. If you have a filtering app for their phones, this will protect them from accidental searches and addictions.
Mobicip: This is the best one out there. This program costs only $40 a year. And this program sets up content filters, time limits, and sends you internet history reports. I recommend this app even with the built in settings on your phone…because there are always loopholes.
House Rules: The last bit of practical advice I can give is to set up technology house rules. Things that you set up that everyone in the family must abide by. Here are a couple examples:
–Time Restrictions: Maybe you don’t want anyone on their phones after 9pm. Maybe you don’t want to watch more than 3 hours of TV a day.
–Charging Stations: I would recommend setting up a location where your kids’ phones and devices can be charged overnight. This well help your child be able to get the sleep they need without being distracted by their device. But also, it protects your student from inappropriate searching when no one is looking. Set up a power strip in your bedroom or in the kitchen and you have your charging station.
You know your family best. So if any of this is helpful for you, then great! If there is anything that we can do to help you in this area, let us know. Thanks for helping your family look to Jesus.
May 19, 2016 / Comments Off on Parenting in a Technological World
We are in a new series in our 7th and 8th grade ministry! Join us as we spend 4 weeks together learning more about who God is. We will spend time playing games, discussing in small groups, and learning about who God is. See you from 6:30-8:00 this Wednesday!
*We will not be meeting on November 26th due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.
November 18, 2014 / Comments Off on Heartbeat’s Series: God Is…