FACT: At best, you get to spend time with your students a couple of hours each month.
FACT: God desires for parents to be the primary spiritual influencers in their children's lives.
FACT(?): You didn't sign up to minister to parents.
I was in your same shoes not long ago (assuming you wear size 9.5). In my years of ministry to students, I had come to the realization that the biggest spiritual influencers should be parents. I also learned that not all parents took on this role. Not all parents wanted this role. Most parents wanted to outsource this role...to you: the Youth Pastor. It's "what you do", right?
But, I knew that this wasn't what was intended in Deuteronomy 6. Shepherding children in God's way is a parent's responsibility! How would I get parents to understand and own this responsibility? What if they question my ability to give advice in child-rearing?
I serve in New England, otherwise known as the Modern-Day Valley of Dry Bones to most. I prefer to call it...New England. Studies have shown that congregants here show up to church an average of 1.8 times per month. What does .8 even mean?!
Anyway, my "facetime" with students is about twice per month. There are a couple of things I could have done in response to this. I could have:
After choosing #2, I quickly had hesitations as my insecurities began to take over. Why should they listen to me? I don't know what it's like to raise a teenager!
I shared this ministry directive with my Senior Pastor. I also let him in on my insecurities. He agreed with me on beginning a parent ministry and told me that I do have tons to offer. And it all made so much sense to me.
My Senior Pastor also told me that he would have my back, in case any parent would challenge my ability to offer assistance or direction with regards to spiritual formation in their teens' lives.
Armed with this confidence and knowing I had my pastor's full support, I went in and began our parent ministry. We began with an all-parent meeting, explaining what we were going to offer and communicating the importance of our youth ministry's role as a RESOURCE for their students' spiritual formation and not as the SOURCE. We are sending out 2 emails a month with content on where their students' are at emotionally, physically, and perhaps spiritually. These emails include a video with ideas they can try with their students. We also post encouraging content on our Facebook page where parents can feel supported. And we are working on a portion of our website where we offer more resources for parents.
Since we began just over a year ago, the parents in our ministry have been nothing but grateful for the emails, advice, resources, encouragement, support, and our willingness to serve alongside them. The language in each of our emails is intentional in that we communicate that we are with them in this journey. I cannot tell you how encouraging these parents have been to me and how my relationship with them has blossomed. The respect I have gained is priceless.
If you'd like to learn more about partnering with parents, engaging them in your ministry, equipping them with resources, and even positioning yourself as a trusted resource check out our online course here:
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