The infancy of my faith was greatly influenced by youth ministry. I am indebted to youth pastors, youth workers, chaperones, and youth ministry as a whole.
This is one of the many reasons my lifelong indebtedness to youth ministry has me continuing to pour into this generation, as long as He will allow me.
Our season of youth ministry was one of the most fruitful and rewarding times of our ministry. We still look back very fondly over the young people, volunteers, events, and parents. Thankfully, our connections are still strong, and stronger in some cases.
There are a number of things that I gleaned while involved in youth ministry and I wanted to share a few of them with you.
I wholeheartedly believe that your youth ministry should be parent friendly. I hope to write about this specifically in the near future. However, I wanted to share a few things with youth workers out there.
First, I have been where you’ve been and now I am on the other side of this with one of our children doing well in our local youth ministry. Our second child will be in youth ministry in the not too distant future. #TimeFlies
There are a few things that your parents need from you.
Communication. Communication. Communication.
Each week a number of parents are entrusting the people they treasure more than life into your care. You cannot over communicate! Communication is a key!
If you want to earn the trust of your parents. Communicate. Communicate clearly. Communicate often. Communicate consistently.
Parents want to know what you are teaching their kids. What are you talking about in your small group gatherings? How are you sharing that with Mom and Dad.
When counseling with teenagers, be sure to communicate unfiltered feedback to their parents. If you think the kids will not trust you because of this, I tend to disagree. I would give teenagers (and still do) a disclosure that I would discuss whatever they were sharing with me with their parents and explain why. I never had one instance where it impaired our conversation or connection. As a matter of fact, it was an opportunity that served as a launching pad to facilitate a stronger connection between them and their parents. It also helped build trust with our parents.
When an event is taking place communicate as much as possible.
Here are a few things you should consider communicating via all available communication platforms (i.e., social media, email, text messaging, website, orientations, etc.).
Event Type (social, worship experience, fellowship centric, etc.):
Chaperones (parents want to know who is working with their kids):
Cost (if applicable):
Are there ways parents can get involved? If so, communicate those opportunities for involvement.
Communicate Your Vision
What is the vision that the local church has for the ministry? Communicate that to your parents. How can they help support it?
There’s no quicker way to win the hearts of your parents by sharing with them what you envision God doing in their lives of their children. Share with them your heartbeat. Allow them to see your heartbeat for their kids and watch them begin to give you their loyalty and support.
Oftentimes, student pastors have grand visions and effective programs, however, the parents are unaware.
I encourage you to read 1 Timothy 5. It will become crystal clear that the most effective training ground for spiritual development is the home, as you read this particular passage. There are countless others that support this, however, this is one of my favorites.
As parents learn your vision they will be able to join you and your team, hand in hand, and press toward the mark!
As a parent of a tween (at the time of this journal entry), this season can be unnerving; a season in which we lack confidence, seek guidance, and are doing everything we can to make sure that we get it right.
There’s no specific book that gives explicit instructions on how to raise our specific children, however, there are a number of tools that can be incredibly helpful.
Share with your parents devotional ideas, books, blogs, and seminars that will be helpful in their particular season of parenting a teenager, and remind them to allow the Word to be their guide through it all.
When you change your paradigm to one of family friendly ministry, you will quickly understand that when the family succeeds, you win too. Remember, the church is made up of families.
Cheer Your Parents On!
As I mentioned earlier, parenting, regardless of the season, is difficult. However, parenting a teen is even more difficult.
Simply put… When your parents bring their children to youth ministry events, don’t forget to express your appreciation to them and affirm their decision to make attending these events a priority.
When their kids do something well, please share that. As a matter of fact, not only share that with their parents, make sure you share that with the student in particular.
There will be moments of doubt, however, when you come alongside a mom or dad to affirm that they’re going to make it by His grace, that encouragement will fuel the will of God in their family.
What are some things that you’ve found to be helpful in youth ministry? Let’s collaborate, as we go beyond. #GoBeyondReason