Family Table Time Resources

Opera The Center For Parent Youth Understanding ( has produced this series to help equip you to disciple your teenagers as you are spending more time at home with your teenagers due to the COVID 19 pandemic.  Use these to spur meaningful conversation and disciple your teenagers.

week 1








week 2








week 3











MZS Online meeting during the Corona Virus Crisis

During the current situation of the Corona virus and in compliance with civil authorities’ request for social distancing, MZS will meet online for Sunday LifeGroups and Wednesday small groups until in person group gatherings can resume.

Groups will meet on the Zoom meetings platform unless otherwise posted.  LifeGroups will meet Sunday mornings after the 9:30am livestream of Mount Zion’s worship service.  Wednesday night small groups will meet after the MZS 6:30pm livestream.  Both livestreams can be seen on the church YouTube channel, “MZ Online”.

Instructions for accessing meetings on Zoom:

  • On  computer: Go to
  • On device: Download the Zoom app
  • Click “Join meeting”
  • Enter meeting code (This 9 or 10 digit code will be texted and or emailed to you and your students.  You can also reach out to MZS leaders for this information.)
  • Once you enter the meeting code you will need to give Zoom access to your device’s camera and microphone.

Zoom is free and requires no account.

It seems Covid-19 has up-ended and disturbed all aspects of our lives, it is my goal to keep contact with your students as regularly as possible.  I really believe it is important that we try to maintain our time together and keep connecting with students as well as stay on track as much as possible.





Teen Anxiety

Research is all over the place saying that anxiety and stress are at all time highs for teenagers.  It’s not surprising with the pressure to perform in all aspects of their lives.  Here’s and older article for Psychology Today that I came across that lists 10 specific contributors to the teen anxiety phenomenon.

If your student is struggling with anxiety and stress.  Please let me know if you need a reference for a counselor or how I can help.



How to select an internet monitoring service


Written by Tony Bianco

Teens and kids today are spending more and more time online through mobile devices.

Simply seeing our kids’ actions and behavior in the physical world is no longer enough to know how they are acting or who they are with since the rise of social media and these digital devices.

So, what is a parent to do?

Well, according to a 2016 PEW Research report, 61% of parents check their kids’ web history, 60% monitor social media, and 48% check their kids’ text and phone calls.

So, it seems the question is not, “should I monitor my kids?” but “how do I monitor my kids?”

There are a few things to consider when you are looking at these types of services.

One, how much control are you wanting?

Some services allow you to do very little or a variety of features.

If you have a younger child, you may only be looking for internet protection, but with older students, you may also be looking to monitor messages and social media.

The second thing to consider is, do you want your child knowing that you are monitoring them?

Some parents are open and honest when it comes to monitoring. Other parents want to monitor in the shadows anonymously. There are services for each type of parent which we will discuss below. However, I believe that being honest with your student about your intentions is one way to generate buy-in and understanding when it comes to kids and their technology.

There is already a disconnect between parents and their kids when it comes to the things with screens but being honest is a way to bridge this gap and build trust.

The third thing to consider when selecting a monitoring service is the ease of use.

If you purchase a great software but do not know how to use it, then it does you no good. The good news is that many of these services offer a multi-day free trial, so you can try them out before you fully commit.

The last thing to think through is will this service only work on mobile devices like phones and tablets or will they also work on computers or even smart appliances like your T.V.

Knowing the range of your service or services is important before committing fully to any of them.

Now that we have discussed a few things to look for, here are a few suggestions based on what you might be looking for.

Below we will identify 8 different monitoring options and look at how they measure up to each of these pieces of criteria.

Again, the criteria will be:

  1. How much control do you want?
    2. Do you want your kid to know you are monitoring?
    3. Ease of use.
    4. Will this work on all technology or just mobile devices?


  • Control: 4/5 Stars
  • Do They Know: YES
  • Ease of Use: 3/5 Stars
  • All technology or just mobile: ALL


  • com
  • Internet Filter
  • Accountability Report Available
  • $11.99/month (personal) $15.99/month (family)


  • Control: 5/5 Stars
  • Do They Know: YES
  • Ease of Use: 4/5 Stars
  • All technology or just mobile: ALL


  • com
  • Set Time Limits
  • Internet Filter
  • Block or Allow Apps
  • Set Log-Off Times and/or Bed Times
  • See History
  • Pause Internet
  • Give Rewards
  • $99 for the unit (no monthly fee) $5/month to enable features off home WiFi


  • Control: 4/5 Stars
  • Do They Know: YES
  • Ease of Use: 4/5 Stars
  • All technology or just mobile: ALL


  • com
  • Internet Filter
  • Activity Reports
  • Set Time Limits
  • Block or Allow Games & Apps
  • Monitor Social Media
  • Monitor Calls (Android only)
  • Location Tracking
  • $4.58/month (5 devices) $8.08/month (10 devices) $11.50/month (15 devices)


  • Control: 2/5 Stars
  • Do They Know: YES
  • Ease of Use: 3/5 Stars
  • All technology or just mobile: MOBILE


  • com
  • View Web History
  • View Text Messages
  • View Calls & Contacts
  • Location Tracking
  • See messages sent & received from WhatsApp & Kik Messenger


  • Control: 4/5 Stars
  • Do They Know: Yes
  • Ease of Use: 3/5 Stars
  • All technology or just mobile: MOBILE


  • com
  • Monitor Social Media (Snapchat, Kik, etc.)
  • Alerts for Inappropriate Words & Images
  • Monitor Mobile Apps
  • View Web History
  • Location Tracking
  • View Installed Apps
  • View Calls & Contacts


  • Control: 4/5 Stars
  • Do They Know: Yes
  • Ease of Use: 3/5 Stars
  • All technology or just mobile: ALL


  • com
  • Internet Filter
  • Accountability Reports
  • $5.83/month (single user) $8.33/month (family use)


  • Control: 4/5 Stars
  • Do They Know: YES
  • Ease of Use: 3/5 Stars
  • All technology or just mobile: MOBILE


  • com
  • App Usage
  • Daily Reports
  • Web & Search History
  • Time Limits
  • Block Apps & Games
  • Pause
  • Schedules
  • Bedtime App Blocker
  • FREE (limited features & 1 device per child) $4.99/month (all features)


  • Control: 4/5 Stars
  • Do They Know: YES
  • Ease of Use: 5/5 Stars
  • All technology or just mobile: MOBILE


  • iOS 12
  • App Limits
  • Daily & Weekly Reports
  • Internet Filter
  • Web & Search History
  • App Store Restrictions
  • Tracks “Pickups” & Notifications
  • FREE with iOS 12 compatible device

As you can see, there are a variety of options that parents have at their fingertips, and these are only a few. As it was stated earlier, find something that you feel comfortable using and move forward with it. I would also recommend you stick with it for at least a month, or the trial period. This will give you a more “real life” look and feel to the application you choose.

It is a growing world out there, and the Internet is only getting bigger. Schools are incorporating screens more and more, and “being connected” is a desire of the next generation.

As parents, the best thing that we can do is to prepare and parent our kids through this digital world. Face to face conversations are still needed, but the assistance of a service like these are a great resource in your parenting tool belt!

Written by Tony Blanco

TONY BIANCO has been in Student Ministry for 10+ years with his wife Diamend with whom they have two amazing kids. He is a former Radio DJ, Technology Reviewer, GameStop Manager, Apple Store Expert, and the author of The Family Technology Plan.


How teens hide porn on their phones

If you’re worried your teen is viewing porn on their phones you should be because two of the mot popular social media apps, Instagram and Snapchat, can be gateways to pornography. Today’s teens don’t need to go looking for porn because they have a porn app on their phone. Thanks to the internet and social media, pornography is out to find them whether they want to see it or not.

Heres an older article to help you monitor your teens cellphone use:

Anti Porn: How Porn Hides on Popular Teen Apps

Top 10 Ways to Tame the Cell Phone Beast


Here are the Top 10 Tips that Real Life Parents use to stop cell phone fights before they begin.

10. Use the Parental Controls.

All the Major Cell Phone Carriers have some sort of Parental Controls. There are some pretty great features that help parents. Some carriers let you set the hours your teenager can use their phone and others allow you to track their whereabouts through GPS. You might pay an extra fee for these services, but parents tell us that it is well worth it.

9. Have Your Teenager Take a Picture of Their Destination

Instead of just having them call you when they arrive at their destination, have them send a picture which gives visual evidence that they are where they are supposed to be. This gives them an amazing opportunity to earn your trust.

8. Don’t Give a SmartPhone Right Away

A lot of the parents we talk to gave their teenager an older phone to start with and let them have more features as they earned more trust. This sets your teenager up for success and avoids giving them too much too soon.

7. Learn the Texting Abbreviations

You are one Google Search away from being an expert in the language of text message abbreviations. It’s true that teenagers have their own language when they text, but the smart parent chooses to be- come fluent in that language so they can understand what their teenager is saying to them and others.

6. Use a Cell Phone Contract

Sit down with your teenager and work together to set guidelines for cell phone use. Write them down, sign the bottom of the paper, and hang it up in a public place in your home. This will give you a reference point to refer to in the future.

5. Shut Down Texting and Driving

Talk early and often with your teenager about Texting and Driving. It will be one of those subjects that they are tempted to ignore, but it is crucially important that they respect. By the way, if you text and drive in front of them you will fight an uphill battle convincing them not to pick up the habit.

4. Break the ICE
Make sure your teenager has a contact in their list titled ICE (In Case of Emergency) with your phone number listed. Emergency Responders are trained to check the phones they find for this contact.

3. Fight for Your Right to Read Texts

You might disagree with us and that is OK, but we believe that you should have the right to read your teenager’s text messages. The older they get the more right they have to privacy, but we believe they should earn that right over time. If you are watching their texts you have a chance to teach them how to act responsibly.

2. Plug In The Cell Phone By the Parent’s Bed at Night

This is a Parenting Ninja Secret. To keep their teenager from texting until 2 am in the morning, we know some really smart parents who have their teenager charge their cell phone in the Parent’s bedroom at night.

1. Teach Your Teenager Early That Their Phone is a Privilege not a Right

If you pay the bill then you are in control of whether or not your teenager gets to use the phone. When we asked parents for tips on taming the cell phone beast, this was by far the most popular. We hope it helps!

25 Ways to Spend 15 Minutes with Your Teen

Connecting with your teenager can feel really complicated and difficult. They’re busy and you’re busy and we often feel overwhelmed by all that we have to do.

Or, they make you feel they don’t want you around.  Don’t believe it!  Research continues to show that parents are the number one influence in a teenagers life.

Each of these ideas can help you make a connection and takes less than 15 minutes.  Not all of these may feel right for you and your kids, but look over these suggestions and use or modify them to make the most of your time with your teenagers.


1. TEXT THE LOVE: Send your teen a text everyday of a truth about the way that Christ sees them. Follow it with a Bible Verse that backs it up. here’s how:

Download the Bible app “You Version” to your phone. This app allows you the ability to look up a verse and text it directly to someone. (Try the New Living Translation for easy understanding.) To make it more personal,  look up the verses together over dinner.

Some ideas to get you started: • You belong to Christ. (1 Cor. 6:19-20) • God chose you to be His. (Ephesians 1:3-8) • With Christ he takes away fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) • Christ has plans for you that are bigger than you can think! (Jeremiah 29:11) • God sings about you! (Zephaniah 3:17) • God loves you more than you can even dream! (Ephesians 3:18-20)

2. DINNER OF LOVE: Make a favorite dish of everyone in the house for dinner. (Even if it is a strange mix of foods!) Make sure to make your favorite as well! When you sit down for dinner point out who you made each dish for. Use this as a chance to talk about how you did this because your family belongs to you and you love them. Over dinner, ask your children ways that Christ shows their love to them, in bigger ways. Do they see it?

3. THE FACE-TO-FACE CHALLENGE:  Start a conversation about something that was great in your day or in your teen’s life.  Use this time to tell your teen all the ways in which they are great. When you are done, tell them that the reason they are this way is because God made them this way. Talk to them about how God their Father loves them, more than you could possibly love them. Ask them what they think about this.

4. Download questionsinabox: Download this free app from  Take turns using it to ask each other questions to start conversations.  Focus on getting to know your teen, and finding out about who they are and what they enjoy. This will help you to get to know your teen and start to hear their struggles. For families who grapple with Father’s not being in the home, this can be a time to start talking about how this affects them.

5. PIZZA AND A ? NIGHT: Sometimes we just need some good old fashioned family time. This week have a night when everyone is home, get a pizza and just hang out. You can watch a movie together. Play a board game. Just spend the night enjoying each other

6. “WHEN YOU WERE LITTLE”: Take out a couple of baby pictures or pictures of your child when they were very young. By the time our youth enter the teen years they think they have forgotten what it means to be “little.” They are so focused on “being grown.” Spend 5- 10 minutes looking at the pictures with your teen and telling them your favorite things about them when they were that age. Talk about memories that were your favorite from when they were young ages.

7. PROVERBS CHALLENGE: Leave a Bible and a journal on the coffee table. Each day read one Proverb and then rewrite it in your own words. Challenge your teen to do the same, in the same journal, then they can see what you are writing and you can see them. You are encouraging the both of you to get into the Bible on the same day!

8. LUNCH BOX NOTES: Three days this week write your teen a small note that encourages them in a way to live for Jesus while at school. Tuck the note into a notebook or lunch. Make it a place where they can find it (but not be embarrassed).

9. 15 MIN DESSERT TIME: Make a 15 minute “date” with your teen this week. Set aside 15 minutes just to sit and talk with the over their favorite dessert.

10. TOGETHER CHORES: What is a chore around the house that your teen might not “know how” to do well? What could you do together that you could show them “how” and “why” you do something? How do you balance a checkbook? Why do you pick certain items up at the grocery story but skip others? How do you iron clothes well?

11. THE “I LOVE YOU” CHALLENGE: At least five times this week stop, and tell your teen that you love them. Then tell them something you love about them, that is NOT a physical attribute. For example: “I love the way that you really are a loyal friend. That is something that is important.

12. DO WHAT THEY LIKE: Make a 15 minute “date” with your teen this week. Set aside 15 minutes just to do something they like to do.

13. FRIDAY FAST FOOD: Take your teen(s) out with the idea of finding out how they are doing. Let them pick their favorite place. Avoid asking “yes” or “no” questions. Instead ask questions that get them talking. Instead of, “How’s your friend?” ask “Tell me one thing that made you happy this week.”

14. FUN AND FAVORITE: This week, do something with your teen that is a favorite activity. If not make them their favorite meal. Use this time to talk about all of your teen’s “favorites.” When is the last time you told each other your favorite song, food, movie, etc.

15. FIVE MORNING MINUTES: Sometimes it is hard to sit and “talk” face to face. Using a notebook spend five minutes every morning writing a short note to your teen about why you love them and what you are proud of them for. Put the notebook in their room or backpack. Encourage your teen that this notebook is a safe place to tell you their feelings as well. You can use it as a written dialogue to “talk’ when it isn’t easy.

16. “I’M SORRY” NOTES: Sit down with your teen and discuss the last time you had a disagreement that didn’t go well. Did you hurt each other in it? Take a few minutes to write each other a note explaining why you are sorry for the way you handled yourself. (Did you yell? Did they say mean words?) Then make sure to write a line of why you love your teen.

17. I LOVE YOU STILL: Take two minutes today to tell or  text one reason why you love your teen. End it with, “I love you still, even when we disagree.” Sometimes when we don’t get along our teens think that we don’t love them.

18. WHAT YOU SEE: Stand in front of a mirror with your teen for 30 seconds. (Longer may make them uncomfortable.) Tell them all the wonderful things you see staring back at you.

19. WHAT YOU “CAN’T” SEE: Write a note to your teen and hang it up in their room or on their mirror. In the note include all of the wonderful things you love about your teen that maybe they “can’t” see for themselves. If you would rather find a picture of something beautiful or magnificent. (A rainbow, a mountain range, etc.) with the caption, “When I look at you I see God’s reflection.” He is the creator so he is reflected in everything.

20. MAGAZINE CRAWL: Get ahold of any popular magazine. (Preferably one with celebrities in it. It can be fashion, sports or health.) Look through the magazine together. On each page either in ads or articles, discuss how it nudges you to want to be “something”.  Some pictures “say” things just by showing us a skinny girl or a guy with a six pack of muscles. Count all of the ways just this one magazine is “talking“ to you. Discuss ways you can learn to ignore the world in this way.

21. WHO DO YOU WISH?: In the car or before bed sit down and talk to your teen about those people in the media you wish you looked like. Have a discussion on how God made you the way you are for a purpose.

22. THIS WAS ME: Show your teen a picture of yourself when you were in High School. Talk about the styles then. How did your own friends affect what you wore or how you saw yourself? (Even if not at all)

23. STYLE WATCH: Sit down with your teen and talk for 2 minutes about their own sense of style. Why do they wear what they wear? Why is it popular? Is there something they would like to wear but are afraid others won’t like it?

24. PICTURE PERFECT: Copy a recent picture of your teen or send it to them in an email. On the back of the picture, or in the body of the email talk about all the qualities you see that are “Christ’s” reflection. How are they kind? Compassionate? A servant? When people see them, how do others see Jesus?

25. PERSONAL SERVICE: One of the best ways that we can show Christ to others is through serving them. Pick a neighbor or a friend and find a small way to “serve” them with your teen. Could you bake them cookies? Could you both mow their lawn? It can be the offer to do anything small, that shows a gesture of Christ’s love.