Rooted 2017: Parents are Youth Ministers


This year’s Rooted Conference (in Dallas, October 26-28) isn’t only for youth ministers; it’s for parents.

If you are a parent who loves your kids and seeks to raise them in the light of the Gospel, you will find encouragement here.

If you are a parent who wants guidance and strong teaching about how the Gospel has practical implications in your home, you will find wisdom here.

If you are a parent who fears the riptide of cultural influences, and seeks divine power to withstand and overcome, you will find strength here.

This conference is for you.

I am a single mom with three teenage boys, and I went to the Rooted conference in San Diego last year, even before parent-specific content was offered. I knew of Rooted because I had written a few parenting articles for the blog, but in retrospect, I am not sure what I thought I would get out of the conference. After all, the conference at that time was a “youth ministry” gathering, and I wasn’t technically a “youth minister.”

What I learned was this: parents ARE youth ministers.

In fact, parents are on the front lines of youth ministry, and we need to get on board with this calling in our lives. We not only minister the love of Christ to our own children, but we have regular contact with their friends, teammates, schoolmates, and neighborhood buddies. We drive carpools, make costumes, coach teams – and in the process, we can minister to a whole bunch of kids who need Jesus. We spend hours waiting backstage, sitting on bleachers, and planning PTA events with other parents who need to see and hear Gospel hope in our lives.

I discovered I had a lot to learn from these youth pastors. They have valuable insight into our culture and the teenage brain. For me, much of the value of the conference came during shared meals and impromptu conversations with the people who are ministering to our kids. They know what teens need to hear from the Bible and how to teach it to them. I didn’t just learn the name of the latest dangerous app the kids were using; I learned how to address the heart issues that come up with adolescents and smartphones.

Have you ever noticed that people who work with kids are often joyful, playful people who have a ton of integrity and intentionality? One night I had a blast at dinner with a diverse group of youth pastors who came from Boston, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, and Singapore. I heard stories of their biggest retreat fails (hilarious) as well as the hurdles they face in their churches. Being at the conference made me more aware of the youth staff at my own church, and how I might be able to support them as they support my kids. When pastors and parents work as partners in teaching young people, the whole church wins.

That’s why this year, the Rooted conference will provide a place for parents and youth ministers to learn from each other and alongside each other. In addition to all the good stuff that happens between scheduled events, there are two kinds of talks at the conference:

The eight plenaries are for all conference attendees (“plenary” means that the teaching is straight from Scripture and applies to everyone there). Plenaries are similar to sermons, and in San Diego every one of them was packed with rich, nourishing teaching – I took pages of notes. This year’s lineup features some excellent Bible teachers, among them are Jen Wilkin, Scott Sauls, Walt Mueller, and Julius Kim. “The Gospel of Hope” is our theme, and each one of these talks will explore the hope we have in Christ. Plenaries are often paired with worship, led by local musicians who combine traditional hymns with contemporary favorites.

On Friday and Saturday, workshops will be held between the plenaries. There are three workshop “tracks” for attendees to choose from: the youth ministry track, the Asian-American track, and this year for the first time, the parent track. Twelve workshops tackle the pressing issues that parents face with their teens:

– Why Ferris Bueller NEEDED a Day Off: The Realities of Teen Stress and Anxiety
– Teaching the Teenage Mind: Communicating Spiritual Concepts Effectively to Adolescent Brains
– Guiding Teens Through Unexplainable Grief- Lessons from Job and His Friends
– Making Worship a Lifestyle for Kids, Not Just a Few Songs on Sunday

Other workshops focus on topics such as social media, adolescent body image, addiction, shame, and same-sex attraction.

Most of the parents I know feel a combination of fear, inadequacy, bewilderment, hopelessness, and frustration in parenting their teens. This may be “normal,” but God never intended for His church to be just like everybody else. God wants His children who are parents to be sanctified in their parenting. He wants His children who are children to be led by parents and pastors who are “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17).

Join Rooted in Dallas in October. Together we will explore the living hope we have in Christ, and find encouragement, wisdom, and strength in His Word.



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