What Do Parents Need From Youth Pastors…
I’ve been a youth pastor for a long time, and I have a lot of youth pastor friends. When we get together, it’s inevitable that the conversation turns the bane of youth ministry existence: parents of teenagers.
I’ve never really understood this ministry philosophy of Parents Bad/ Youth Pastors Good.
Don’t get me wrong; I certainly understand that sometimes working with parents can be rough. I’ve had my fair share of irate parents in my office, absent parents blaming me for the problems they see at home, and pastor-parents whose kids could do no wrong. (Yeah, right.)
But even with that, I’ve always seen parents as my strongest ally- and the best way to duplicate myself in ministry. They’re the greatest influence their kids will ever know…for the better, or for the worse.
I learned a long time ago that in order to turn the tide in my favor they really only need three main things from me. Trust me, these three things can make all the difference in your ministry.
1) Partner-They need me to partner with them in pastoring their kids, not the other way around. It seems like we expect parents to partner with us in student ministry-that’s not biblical. They’re the foundation of spiritual growth. And if that foundation is crumbling or nonexistent, then it’s not up to me to “relocate” the house. I don’t get to “steal” kids from their parents because their folks just aren’t getting it right. I do my best to make a Godly, holy impact on the family. Period. Hijacking kids from their folks is the surest way to become an enemy of the state of that household.
2) Over-Inform-The biggest complaint I hear from parents…sometimes even in my own ministry…is that they never know what’s going on. Now that can mean a bunch of things. It can mean, “You don’t communicate the calendar.” It can mean, “My kids don’t communicate the calendar.” It can mean, “I’m clueless about connecting with my kid and you aren’t helping.” It can mean, “I hate the senior pastor, but you’re the closest person to me, so I am kicking you.”
With all those veiled ideas in play, what’s a youth leader to do? OVER-communicate. If you don’t have a method for regularly communicating with parents (I mean something besides making an announcement in youth group and hoping the information makes it home in one piece), you need to put that in play right now. It can be something as simple as a quarterly youth calendar to something as grandiose as a complete guide to parenting…including a quarterly calendar. Over-communicating youth ministry stuff to parents ultimately communicates to them that they are valuable and important to you.
3) Be Mature-If you expect to be a true impact for Christ on any household, you can’t have pictures floating around Facebook of the time you ran down the hall at camp like Superman with towel around your neck and in your underwear. You also can’t light your farts on fire, even if you’re the junior high pastor. You can be relevant to kids and still act like a grown-up. Parents want to know their kids are safe and WITH A GROWN-UP! That means, at the very least, you have to pretend to be one, even if you don’t feel like one. And by the way, focusing on one and two above will help you achieve number three in the eyes of most parents.
Parents are NOT your enemy. They are your greatest allies. And they’re the most important force in the lives of their kids. Ask yourself this: If the greatest force in kids’ lives was their workplace, would you be showing up there? If the greatest influence in their lives was the local park, how many events would you be planning there?
Don’t count parents out because they complicate your life. Know your place in the family, communicate LOTS, and be the grown-up-you’ll be stunned at the transformation…and in the end, you’ll be having the greatest impact on teenagers you could ever dream of.
The above article, “What Do Parents Need From Youth Pastors…” is written by Darren Sutton. The article was excerpted from www.simplycommunity.com website in February of 2009.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”