my executive assistant, linda brangwynne, wrote this great article a while back for one of the ys emails. i’m stoked to have an assistant who cares so deeply about youth ministry.
A PERSPECTIVE FROM A PARENT VOLUNTEER
Had you asked me five years ago what I’d be doing in 2008, volunteering in high school ministry would’ve been the last thing to enter my mind. It’s funny how radically things changed after I decided to relinquish some control over my life to God.
Here I am now, a 50-plus-year-old mom of two teenage boys; one a recent high school grad, the other a freshman in high school. I vividly remember the first time I summoned the nerve to set foot in our high school youth room at church to pick up my son from a small group meeting. The room was noisy, chaotic, and brimming with enough testosterone to carry the men’s basketball team through the Olympics. I felt like I’d stumbled into a foreign land. But several years later, this very same room now feels like home to me. It’s funny how uncomfortable I felt there that night. I’m so thankful that God knows me better than I (thought) I knew myself.
I ventured into the world of high school ministry on the slow track. After several years of serving in women’s ministry, I felt a prompting that some major transitions were in store for me that involved office ministry or some type of administrative work. About two-and-a-half years ago our high school and middle school pastors dropped by our women’s ministry gathering to talk about various needs in student ministry. One of the projects was database entry. Well, that was right up my alley since I worked with databases every day at my law-firm job. It sounded great and fit right in with my busy lifestyle–they explained they only needed help during the summer, and I could work on the project at my own pace.
That summer as I entered information into the database, I also started praying for the students–and God started to change my heart toward the students in our church. I was inexplicably drawn to continue praying for them and our student ministry.
By the end of that summer I wanted to check out and consider–as crazy as it seemed–serving student ministry in a capacity that wasn’t just behind the scenes. This was a radical change in mindset for me. My own high school years had been a painful experience, so it wasn’t an age group I was naturally drawn to–but in retrospect, it’s a ministry that God had prepared me for. In the fall I continued with database entry, and I mentioned to our youth pastor that I was open to ramp up my involvement in high school ministry. Soon I found myself assisting at the info desk during the Sunday morning services; I helped with event sign-ups, got to know many of the students that I’d been praying for during the summer, and met some of their parents as well. I got to know the students who served on the greeter’s team, and we’d chat about what was going on at school and in the rest of their lives. I found that I really enjoyed hanging with the girls, hearing their stories–and I knew this crazy place of high school ministry had gotten hold of this 50-plus-year-old mom. I found purpose and joy in serving and in standing beside these students, the next generation of Jesus’ followers.
I’ve shared some of my life story with these students, primarily within the context of our Sunday morning services and one-on-one conversations. I’ve driven to and from various events, phoned students and their parents, served ice cream, helped with various service projects, brought snacks, helped wash cars, entered the world of texting and teen culture, served as an adult volunteer at retreats, attended conferences and seminars on leadership and issues that impact teens, shared meals, coffee, smoothies, and co-led a girl’s small group. I’ve prayed with the wonderful students who’ve captured my heart, and I’ve cried and laughed with them. But mostly, I’ve just been there for them.
As a parent, I’ve found so much joy in serving student ministries in my church. I’d like to challenge and encourage you to consider using your time and resources to invest in a kingdom-sized, God-led impact on the lives of your sons and daughters and their friends.
Why not call your youth pastor today and find out what you can do to help at your church or parish? Who knows what God can do with a willing heart of just one more parent in the youth ministry at your church?
Linda is the glue that holds Marko and Tic together and keeps the YS office running as smoothly as the YS office can run. Linda loves all things administrative, an obvious carryover from her previous career as a senior paralegal for a major international law firm.
Linda has been married to her husband Kevin for 25 years, and they have two wonderful teenage sons, Kyle and Brian, and a small menagerie of not so small household pets. When Linda’s not at YS or at home, you can probably find her at Journey Community Church where she volunteers in high school ministry, serves on the prayer team and co-leads a small group for high school girls.