Actions speak louder than words. Whether parents like it or not, kids see the priorities and values they set for the family and it makes a difference on how kids live their lives. All the hype over the past couple years about the student drop-out rate from church seems to be focused at the church, specifically the youth workers.
Almost every other week I see a new Chicken Little article about how the sky is falling and that youth ministry is failing miserably. However, the biblical structure of raising kids is through the parents, not church youth workers. Statistically, the kids who graduate from high school and stay in the church are not those who had a super-dynamic youth group. Rather, it’s those whose parents have intentionally passed on the faith. Of course, this assumes that parents have a living and vital faith that’s worth passing on.
As much as we hate to admit it, we have a lot of parents who are sold out to the world and give lip-service in church, so their kids see that and do the same. Teenagers reflect what they see in the church.
According to the Family Driven Faith audio series by Dr. Voddie Baucham Jr., 92% of families don’t have devotions together even once a year. He also says that the average Christian family has less than 30 minutes of spiritual discussion each week. Maybe the church should focus more on discipling parents who will in turn pass that on to their kids.
Here are a few questions that every Student Pastor and or Leader NEEDS to be asking parents*
1. What’s going on in your family and your kid’s life right now that would help me and the youth leaders know how to best work with your student?
We’re here to partner with parents, but no partnership works very well if the partners are off doing different things without communicating with each other. Ask parents about what they see going in in their kid’s lives that would be helpful information for you and any other appropriate youth leaders to know. What stories are both you and the parents hearing about school? What indicators of spiritual growth do you and the parents see coming from their life? Listen to parents share stories, but be sure you also share with them stories and insights you’ve picked up through their involvement in the ministry.
2. How can the youth ministry support you and your family better?
After you’ve heard a bit about what’s happening in that kid’s life at home, ask parents how they feel the youth ministry can best come alongside and continue to support them. That’s doesn’t mean you should bow to their every request — sometimes their expectations will be unrealistic. Use those times to gently share why you can’t or shouldn’t meet those expectations while giving an alternate suggestion that’s more appropriate.
3. How are YOU doing spiritually right now?
We all know that the spirituality of the parents is often reflected in their students, except their kids don’t try to hide it as much. That’s why the spiritual health of the students is often dependant on the spiritual health of their parents. Kids reflect what they see modeled for them. Ensure that parents are growing spiritually and that it’s overflowing into their family, their children, their teenagers, and their marriages.
This article is written by Tim Schmoyer
Tim is the founder of Life In Student Ministry and is dedicated to facilitating discussions among Christian youth workers about youth ministry. He is the author of the Youth Specialties/Zondervan book, “Life In Student Ministry: Practical Conversations on Thriving in Youth Ministry,” a national youth leader trainer, speaker, and a super-volunteer at his church.