youth ministry, parents, and logic

i’m writing a short book for barefoot ministries on parents (not for parents, but about parents). it’s one of three short books geared for volunteer youth workers that will be released as ebooks. the other two are on understanding teenagers and leading small groups.

while i don’t agree with the “abolish youth ministry” viewpoint of divided: the movie, i totally think there’s some undergirding truth to the need for ongoing reshaping of our perspectives on parents. to that end, i just wrote these three sentences in the manuscript of the book:

There’s some big picture logic we have to embrace:

If we care about the spiritual formation of teenagers, and know that parents have a bigger impact on their spiritual lives than anything else, we would be foolish not to invest time and energy into parents of teenagers.

If we, ultimately, care about the whole lives of teenagers, and know that their parents have a bigger influence on their whole lives than any other influence (including their peers, and certainly including us), it would be arrogant or myopic to ignore parents in our youth ministry strategies.

If we see in scripture that parents have the primary responsibility for the spiritual shaping of their children, we would be biblical revisionists or showing our ignorance to attempt any youth ministry approach that circumvents parents.

what’s your response?

(as an aside, what’s it say that when i looked at google images with “parent” and “teenager” in the search, the majority of images are of parents and teens in conflict?)

10 thoughts on “youth ministry, parents, and logic”

  1. We’ve made it central to our mission at our church: …..our mission is to partner with families to make disciples of the youth of our community.

    The challenge is (1) Convincing parents they have as much influence as they do (2) equipping them for the task.

  2. This is it in a nutshell.
    Here’s what I hear from youth workers most often:
    1- yes this is what we want
    2- my churches expectations don’t align with this
    3- parents at my church are unwilling to do it.
    4- so I keep doing what I’m doing.

    From my experience, 1 is mostly true… I think most yth worker are genuine when they say this.
    2- is the reason I do consulting. It what started me into it and keeps me in it. Overcoming 2 is the hardest to overcome and be on staff in a church.
    3- is the most common response, but once onsite it is the least true. The way youth workers lead, posture, think, and/or gather parents is THE reason most aren’t involved. Period. Youth workers who learn this excel at mobilizing parents, not simply for the yw’s agenda, but in true collaboration with parents.

    Just some thoughts. But this little post holds the future to sticky faith, etc.
    Thanks Marko.

  3. The longer I’ve been in student ministry the more I am aware that most parents want to have a deep spiritual connection with their teens. Most attempts I’ve made to equip parents has been met with heartfelt acceptance. It’s as if they let out a huge sigh of relief when someone helps them in developing that connection. Over the past 4 weeks I’ve been writing a series of email helping parents disciple their kids through difficult issues. By far this series of emails has gotten the most response I’ve ever had. We even have parents forwarding the emails to non-church parents in the community.

  4. I agree 100% that we need to do our best to involve, minister, encourage and equip parents in youth ministry as much as possible. I just hope that we do not neglect reaching out to students who’s parents do not know the Lord. Many young people have parents who may or may not acknowledge there is a God but do not want anything to do with “church” but are indifferent toward their child going to church or becoming spiritual. My parents and many in my family would get very offensive quick if anyone brought up Church, Jesus or religion. If my church would have fired their youth pastor and killed their youth ministry program- then i would not know Christ, I would not have been able to ask questions, I would not have been challenged to be a witness to my family and i truly believe that i would be in prison like both of my older brothers. My youth pastor and the adult volunteers showed me a different way and encouraged me that i could be different. I received Christ when i was in 7th grade and witnessed to my parents till i graduated. My Senior year my mother became a Christian as well as my oldest brother and sister. I hope we do not neglect lost families and students in the future. Maybe God’s plan to reach some families is through transformed students being lights at home.

  5. Emmanuel, I am right there with you. I am one of those kids who didn’t come from a Christian home. What I hope is that our families and student ministry staff partner together to reach the community students for Christ. That they would see their role not only to disciple their own kids, but also their kids’ friends and classmates.

  6. once, during a discussion i had a very wise-for-his-age student say, “wow… it almost seems like Jesus is santa claus and that you only do this when you’re a kid.” this was a senior in high school realizing that the ministries at the church had become so child- and youth-focused that the adults around him were lacking experiences with spiritual substances that he could look forward to. so, i think even our students realize that we need to be partnering with parents and other adults in order to be effective, or we’ll see an even greater drop off post-high school (as sticky faith finds).

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