We had one of our Summer Camp speakers speak recently in our youth group services. It was awesome!!! He recited the whole sermon on the mount. Our students heard three chapters of scripture in one service. I’ve never heard that much scripture preached in one service before and it was GREAT!! As I was listening to him speak, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that most of the students that were there would not understand most of the stuff he was saying. I also thought about the fact that Jesus wasn’t concerned with sending the kids off to hearing an age appropriate message on the sermon on the mount. He said the same exact thing to everyone who was under the sound of his voice.
It really got me thinking about youth ministry, but to be more specific parent ministry within the youth ministry. Reading through scripture, it clearly points to the parents as the main force in spiritually impacting their children’s lives. There are a lot of verses that we could look at but I want to focus on Deuteronomy 6:7-9 (NLT) “7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
In this passage God was instructing the Israelites how they should train their children concerning the things of God. I love how detailed He was in His instructions to parents. We must remember that the most influential people in a student’s life are their parents. It is the way God ordained it and we should celebrate, because no matter how crazy culture gets parents will always have more influence. In light of what I believe God has laid on my heart concerning parents being the primary spiritual leader in our student’s lives, we really should think about parent ministry. I even believe how we decide to partner with parents could potentially make a difference in the statistics that suggest that a high percentage of students are leaving the faith. Helping parents fulfill Deuteronomy 6:7-9 is a conversation worth having in youth ministry. What if we devoted time and effort into actually promoting and helping and even dreaming with parents on ways to do Deuteronomy 6:7-9 better or at all? We sometimes assume that because parents go to church that they are doing this or know how to do it.
Just to be clear I’m not talking about doing away with youth ministry. Youth ministry is vital to the church more now than ever before, and my prayer for this post is that we don’t view parent ministry as just another task. We need to view parent ministry as vital. Having a strong parent ministry is the difference between doing good youth ministry and great youth ministry.
Parent ministry today consists of youth ministries informing parents on what they are doing. I think that’s a good thing but what if it was more than that? What if we created a culture that said to parents that this is a partnership and we want to partner with you influencing/guiding your children in their spiritual walk? Youth ministries are probably the major investors in the student’s life spiritually. The idea would be for parents to be the majority and for us to reinforce the parents role as the students spiritual leader.
I do understand that we try to do stuff for the parents and they don’t want to be a part of it. Some of you may say, “They barely show up at the easy stuff, if we start asking for more then we will really be wasting our time or we could become annoying”. If our goal is to see the child’s faith strong and lasting post academia and we know that parents are vital in this process, we have no choice but to continue figuring things out. We need to think of the quality of our parent ministry. We have to ask ourselves a few questions:
- Are we really doing parent ministry or are we just advertising our ministry to parents?
- Have we communicated to parents how important they are in the spiritual development of their child or do we just assume they know?
- If a parent reached out for help in this area would the ministry be ready to help them come up with strategies concerning Deuteronomy 6:7-9?
- Does our youth ministry function with the mind set as primary or with the mindset of being reinforcement?(a critical look into your parent ministry should render the answer)
Here are a few ideas I came up with in terms of parent ministry just to get the ball rolling:
- A parent focus group – layout your vision for a parent ministry that includes helping parents to be more intentional in practicing Deuteronomy 6:7-9 and how can the ministry come along side them in doing so. Allow the parents to help you shape what it will look like. Remember we should not assume parents are not doing it or even know how.
- Small group leaders meeting with parents as partners.
- Workshops for parents- few suggestions:
- –“Help! My children want to know about sex”
- –“Help! Porn is taking over”
- –“Help! My child is out of control”
- –“The Blended Family”
- An invitation for your staff to meet with parents who’s kids are not in a small group.
I hope this encourages you to look different at how you do parent ministry. Would love to hear how your ministry is doing parent ministry already.
hope it helps