Partnering With Parents In Youth Ministry
I believe the Church is the place to teach, train, and equip young people for living out a real and authentic faith. I'm sure you agree. Lately I've been wondering whether or not it's the primary place for this to be happening.
If results are the chief way of evaluating effectiveness, in many cases the results seem to say we're failing.
Sure, I see many students that have come through my ministry over the years that are actively living their lives for the Lord. The high numbers of those who are not is what concerns me.
We youth pastors sit around for hours discussing why it is we see so many of our students abandoning their faith upon graduation. Have we missed something? Should we consider more or better programming?
I believe the reasons are multi-faceted, and yes, we as a Church, play a part. But beyond the Church's role and responsibility, I believe the weight of that responsibility falls squarely on the teenager's parent(s). The reason so many students give up on church and their faith is not because they don't like the music in our worship services, or don't like our programs, rather it's because they've not seen a real faith lived out at home. They as a result view faith as hypocritical. They've not seen it lived out in the parents' lives; therefore they don't want any part of it in theirs.
There's no question that God has mandated the Church to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) and equip people for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). But I believe the primary role of the Church is to partner with the family, not take it's place.
Unfortunately, much of that responsibility has been abdicated to the Church. In many cases our programs have been used as a drop-off in the hope that students will get everything they need for living a God-centered life. The average church spends 40 to 50 hours a year with children. Contrast this to the 2,500 hours a parent has, and it's easy to see who has the greatest impact. It's the family's responsibility to nurture the spiritual lives of children.
Researcher George Barna correctly states, "When a church - intentionally or not - assumes a family's responsibilities in the arena of spiritually nurturing children, it fosters an unhealthy dependence upon the church to relieve the family of its biblical responsibility."
In Deuteronomy 6:5-7, Moses gave parents some very practical instruction on how to guide their children in spiritual growth. He writes, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
Parents are to pass our faith on to their children all throughout the day. In the slow time, (when they sit at home) in the go time, (when they walk along the road) in the down time, (when they lie down), and in the up time. (when they get up).
As the Church we have to remember that it's our role to partner with parents in this ever-important task. Our programming should come alongside parents and families to equip and resource them. In this way, we focus on preparing students, but also preparing parents for the task of discipling their children so the body of Christ may be built up.
Share your thoughts with the youthministry360 community:
- How have you intentionally tailored programming to be more "parent equipping"?
- Do you find any resistance or apathy among parents when it comes to engaging them in your youth ministry?
What else is on your mind? We want to hear from you . . .