It is Friday, and I have the pleasure of sharing with you a blog post from one of my best friends in ministry. Phil and I have served in the same community in the the Bay Area as fellow youth workers, running partners, neighbors, and friends. Not only is Phil a gifted youth worker, he is also gutsy. He has taken a huge leap of faith to start up a service oriented non-profit which uses justice and service as a touchpoint with our culture to share the love of Jesus with those inside and outside the church. Enjoy his post, and please take a look at his website to get a taste of this unique ministry. We are not as important as we think we are!
3-4 hours a week. On average that is how much time we spend with students in our ministry. That is roughly 2% of a student’s life per week. Granted, some weeks are more and some weeks are less. Sure, we attend awesome events with students and have various appointments with students. But what sort of influence happens in a teenagers’ life with, at best, 4 hours of contact a week?
When I first began working with teenagers I spent countless hours with many students, youth group meetings, appointments, games, band concerts, you name it I was there. Yet how many deep meaningful conversations did I have during the week with students? Looking back, not as many as I thought I did. Over the course of the past few months I have really started evaluating my ministry. I think we all know that statistically parents are the most influential people in a student’s life- not us youth leaders. Yet as I look back at my 15 years of ministry how many meetings did I have with parents to encourage, provide resources or just listen to them? How have I supported the most influential people in a student’s life? I can honestly say I have for the most part failed in this area.
This past year I have tried to be proactive in supporting, encouraging and resourcing the parents of the students I work with.
Here are a few ideas that I am applying:
- Monthly parent gatherings – We meet the first Wednesday of every month while the students are having their meeting. The purpose-a time for parents to share their struggles, success and ideas with each other on various topics. Each month I suggest a topic for discussion. (i.e. Boundaries with Social Media, pace of life, dating/sex, discipline). My role is facilitator, listener and resourcer.
- Bi-monthly to weekly communications – These range from the youth calendar to what we are discussing in our meetings. Sometimes I offer questions for parents to ask their students about what we are talking about so they are better informed.
- Offer Resources – I have learned that many parents are not aware of the great resources that are available to them. I connect them with different resources from parenting to spiritual disciplines.
- Be humble – I communicate with the parents that I do not have all the answers nor do I pretend that I do. I am understanding that my role in their students life is another voice, but not the dominate voice. I've found that when I put myself in this humble position I learn much more and I gain more credibility with the parents.
Ephesians 4:11-12 – Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelist and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church the body of Christ.
As a parent of a 4 and a 6 year old I understand more fully now the responsibility I have in raising my children. I know that I need all the help, equipping, I can get. I believe that I’m not the only one. We need to help, encourage, listen and equip our parents.
What do you do to partner, encourage, resource the parents of your youth?
Mindy’s and mine journey together has taken us many different places over the past 11 years and we never dreamed we would be living in California with two beautiful children Caleb and Chloe. After we got married in 1998 we worked together leading a Campus Life program in Angola, Indiana. We had opportunities to co-lead trips to inner city of Washington DC, the hills of Kentucky and Nicaragua.
We have always had a heart for leading people on service trips to care for and love others. We have seen how experiences like these have changed how people view life and God. People have grown closer in their relationship with him Jesus and have seen how their lives can change things for the better. Now God has opened a door for us to focus our attention on leading students and adults into experiences that we hope God will use to form their hearts. You can learn more about our ministry at our website: be2live.org.