Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Questions

I wrote these questions about three years ago when I started rethinking things. They changed the way I view youth ministry:
  1. When was the last time we saw teens and their parents inside the walls of the church discussing spiritual things together?
  2. Do we equip and support parents of teens even a fraction as much as the teens that walk through their doors?
  3. How much time does our church/youth ministry invest in parents?
  4. What percentage of our youth ministry programs involves parents as participants, not just chaperones or leaders?
  5. Which of our ministries communicate that parents are the most important part of a teen’s faith formation?

12 comments:

salttheplanet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
salttheplanet said...

These are great questions!

One of the things I am wrestling with is the nature of a teen's shift toward independence.

How do we make shifts so that parents are supported and are also connecting with their child, discussing spiritual things, without making it seem like we are infringing upon a teen's shift toward independence?

Also, what do we do about those teens who are not well connected spiritually with their families, or who are not connected with the church at all? How do we integrate them into the church without causing them to feel like outsiders while we are trying to make space for families?

ParttimeYP said...

The thing I try to do in the youth ministry I oversee is to direct the students back to the parents after every service we have. I leave them with questions to ask Mom and Dad and then follow up with them the next time I see them. It's all about Mom and Dad.

parttimeyouthpastor.blogspot.com

jeremyzach said...

1. When was the last time we saw teens and their parents inside the walls of the church discussing spiritual things together?

Great point. Unless you consider arguing if the student needs to sit with his/her family during the service spiritual?

2. Do we equip and support parents of teens even a fraction as much as the teens that walk through their doors?
I think we provide a small role that goes a long way. The gallup poll stated in 1999 that youth workers had more of an influence than parents. However friends had more of an influence the God.


3. How much time does our church/youth ministry invest in parents?
Actually a great deal. We do parenting seminars and always have available family resources.

4. What percentage of our youth ministry programs involves parents as participants, not just chaperones or leaders?
About 15%. To be honest some parents do not want to be participants. Some want to only be chaperones. I think there is a certain type of parent that can actually be a participant in the youth ministry program.

5. Which of our ministries communicate that parents are the most important part of a teen’s faith formation?
Hopefully all the way across the board. I know we communicate from the pulpit, in our newsletters, and during our parent's night.

Great series of questions.

Brenda! said...

Great questions. Great discussion.

1. When was the last time we saw teens and their parents inside the walls of the church discussing spiritual things together?

For us, it is nearly 100% of the time. Seriously. Everything we do encourages this. Parents are required to be involved. Our teens also have active spiritual discussions with other adults in the church too.

2. Do we equip and support parents of teens even a fraction as much as the teens that walk through their doors?

More so.

3. How much time does our church/youth ministry invest in parents?

Everything we do, other than Sunday mornings, is done through the parents to the teens. If parents are unable to come for the many reasons possible, that teen is absorbed into the other family units. But this also means we don't do a weekly youth ministry service, other than SS. We provide so many resources so the parents are doing the spiritual formation in the daily lives. That is more my role.

4. What percentage of our youth ministry programs involves parents as participants, not just chaperones or leaders?

See above.

5. Which of our ministries communicate that parents are the most important part of a teen’s faith formation?

All of them. I do not want the parents to feel inadequate because of my talents or to pass off their responsibility on me because I'm the youth pastor. I funnel everything through them, then their teen. I do have relationships with the teens but because of the years we've been doing this, the parents are active in their role because I've been supporting them in it for as long as they can remember. This year's group of 6th grade parents couldn't wait to enter the youth ministry and feel the empowerment of knowing how to be a part of their child's spiritual formation.

What we do is not perfect and constantly takes redefining from my viewpoint of leadership (parents are just as fickle as teens) but I'm okay with that because the core is still the same.

Kaiser Sose said...

good questions - but i'm hesitent. i think the family unit is highly important in nurturing faith. in fact i think it is the covenant structure God put in place for children to grow in their understanding of, and relationship with, Christ. so focusing ministry on families is an excellent idea.

but here is where i see the problem: there is apparent neglect of spiritual growth and maturity in current adults and this makes for a much more complex issue. bring parents in as you are able, yes. encoruage them, yes. but just because someone is a parent doesn't make them your ideal leader... and it also doesn't mean that they will be a benefit to the ministry as a whole. focusing on the lives of students is what youth ministry needs to be about (in conjunction with ministry to families) but shelving minsitry focused on students while we try and fix families is not the answer.

focusing on both is neccesary. a knee jerk reaction to alter the way we do youth ministry now is not going to be beneficial in the long run. seeking to have ministries within the church that partner with parents to prepare them to lead should happen simultaneously. youth workers need to be on board with this, but they don't have to make it happen personally.

if you have parents that are at the stage where they can be an assest and can bless the ministry and be blessed by the minstry, [and if their own kids are at a place where this will not cause greater family strife] go for it. but forcing parents into roles they are not prepared to fill and at times allwoing parents into roles they aren't prepared to fill is dangerous... and so i apprecate the questions, and encourage us all to consider the context of each of our individual ministries before we let these questions determine our actions.

St. Brianstine said...

You know what's funny? People doing parenting seminars who aren't parents, I've seen that at a church before.

Kevin said...

Read these when you first posted them a while ago and forgot to comment.

Great questions-they have truly helped me as I look at how our student ministry and church our doing in the discipleship and spiritual growth of our teens. Thanks!tefrur

adam said...

Once a youth pastor.

I've truly grown to love your bloggings as I've subscribed to your feed.

Check out my new blog (current.wordpress.com). I’m working on starting a blog all about youth ministry. I’m working on a list of contributors and we’ll be working together to pump out solid content, discussion, and challenges every day.

I hope you’ll join the discussion.

Nathaniel Dame said...

Very good questions. Parents are key... and a real challenge at the same time. I have seen very few youth ministries effectively involve and equip parents as well as teens.

The biggest issue is that in general, sending your kids to youth group (or Sunday school or church) is what a lot of parents use as an excuse to not minister to their own kids & family! That is a perception that must change.

Nick the Geek said...

OK I'm new to this blog but I am interested in what your ideas are to how to get parents more involved. In my youth group less than 20% of the parents attend any church regularly and less than 10% attend our church.

It is very important to get the parents involved but I have extremely limited contact with most of them. They tend to be kind when I speak with them but most don't show up for anything I try to do to get the parents to come and talk with me.

I know this has to be a problem elsewhere but with the other YPs in my area I talk with they tend to have 60-80% of their parents in the church so it helps them with so many things in this respect. The things that are working for them fail completely for me.

The ideal, of course, would be to get the parents "saved" which would increase their interest in the church. Mostly they are ambivalent towards the church. One of the kids literally told me they could do anythign with the Youth because his mom figured she wouldn't get a call from the cops if he was with us.

William Cody Bateman said...

I am a father to a blended family of 18. I am also an elder in the body of Christ - having served and taught God's word for more than 33 years now.

And, why do I mention these things?

Because, I believe the man-created position of "youth pastor" has caused greater harm to the body of Christ then most realize. It has effectively divided young people from their parents and older believers from their responsibilities to mentor and disciple young believers as spiritual teachers.

Youth ministry has stoked and stroked young people into believing that "professional ministry" is a career choice that leads to a "senior pastoral" position as well... and upon promotion, shipwrecking the very young people that supposedly, was their call to "shepherd."

"Youth pastoring" as provoked pride, division and violates God's intended purpose of eldership.

I am speaking as a novice. I have extensive ministry experience in the "youth movement" and am a former missionary with Youth for Christ.

I say, dump the youth movement altogether, placing the responsibilities of mentoring youth back into the laps of the older believer and the Christian parent. Get discipleship out of the four walls of the institution and back at the dinner table where it always belonged.

Keep seeking... you are on the right track son.