What Do Youth Ministers Need from Parents?
When it comes to forming high schoolers to be life-long followers of Jesus, we youth ministers need all the help we can get. Though we are the ones who get paid the big bucks (ha!) to invest in the spiritual lives of students, we simply cannot lift the load alone. Unlike parents, we don’t have the advantage of living under the same roof as our students; we don’t know them like their parents do; we can only exercise so much authority when it comes to laying down the law.
We talk about it frequently here on the Rooted Blog, but the #1 spiritual influence in a child’s life is…. You guessed it, their parents. Because parents are so central to a child’s spiritual formation, coming alongside their youth minister is of vital importance.
If you are a parent who is wondering how you can help your child’s youth minister, simply remember the 3 P’s.
This P should come as no surprise, especially considering Rooted’s 5 Pillars of Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry. Often, youth ministers and parents have a tendency to forget that we are cheering for the same team. The Apostle Paul talks about “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). I love this image when it comes to thinking about partnership with parents. Sometimes, if feels like we are indeed “striving” to effectively grow young disciples of Christ. It can feel like an uphill battle as we wage war against busy schedules, school anxiety, iPhones, and a global pandemic.
But we are not striving alone. We are side by side, working towards the same goal of seeing teenagers experience new life in Christ. Parents, we are cheering you on! We want to come alongside you and equip you in the lofty task you’ve been given of raising a teenager. We want to help you know how you can pray for your child, read the Bible with your child, and how to engage with an ever-increasing secular world with them. As youth ministers, we ask that you would recognize and engage in this partnership alongside us. After all, it’s no fun to cheer for your favorite football team alone!
This “P” is an important one not to underestimate. For every youth group event, there is guaranteed to be a meal that needs to be provided, a carpool that needs driving, a chaperone to be accounted for. While parents are certainly not responsible for pulling off all the logistics of a youth group event (again, this is why we are paid the big bucks), your provision of food or services goes a mighty long way. When we don’t have to worry about picking up dinner or calling every person in our phones over the age of 18 to help chaperone, that frees us up to do more effective ministry. It’s also most likely that you are far better equipped and knowledgeable about how to buy snacks than your (likely) 20-something youth minister is.
The next time you read about a youth event happening, ask your youth minister if there is anything you can do to help. Want to get rid of that old ping pong table in collecting dust in your basement? I bet your youth minister would love that addition to their youth room. Already at Target? Ask your youth minister if they’ve got snacks covered for small group this week. Have a lake house that would make an ideal spot for a summer weekend retreat? Pray about what it would look like to allow the youth group to come for a spiritual get-away.
When youth ministers feel loved and supported in this way, we are better equipped to love and support your children. As a parent, your help with logistics is one of the most evident ways you can be the hands and feet of Jesus to us. Plus, we all know that food scientifically tastes better when it is made by a mom.
Though listed last, this “P” trumps them all. While we want to do everything in our power to help invest in your child’s spiritual life, all our efforts are useless without the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Your prayers for your child’s spiritual life are far more important than any meal you can bring or carpool you can run. When we are committed to one another in prayer, we remind ourselves that the work of a teen’s spiritual formation is not our own. As much as we want to help grow students in their knowledge and love of Christ, unless the Lord builds the house, our labor is in vain (Psalm 127:1). Prayer keeps both youth ministers and parents dependent on the work of the Spirit in our beloved teen’s lives.
The next time you drop off your child at youth group, pray for hearts to be opened to and changed by the gospel. When we are on a trip, pray for safety and Christ-centered fellowship. Pray for us, their small group leaders, and any youth volunteers: that we would be given encouragement, wisdom, and endurance as we seek to point students to Jesus. Similarly, let us know how we can pray for you and your family! Striving-side by-side is far more joyous and less burdensome when it is a prayer-saturated striving.
Parents, we love you. And are so grateful for you. We simply could not do our jobs without you! Your partnership, your provision, and your prayers are what the Lord uses to help us love your teens well. In our striving to grow faithful followers of Jesus, we are so thankful to have you by our side.
Over on the youth ministry side of the blog today, find out what parents need from youth ministers.