All this discussion about football & the National Anthem, I thought I’d find some comparisons to football and youth ministry. It’s very common for a rookie in football to make…well, rookie mistakes. A poorly thrown interception, a missed assignment, or a blown play. The classic rookie mistake for a youth pastor is to neglect the parents. Some young or inexperienced youth pastors might even go as far as to see parents as a hindrance or an enemy to their progress in ministry. Not so!
My ministry philosophy is based on Deuteronomy 6:5-7. The youth pastor needs to be the assistant coach to the head coach, the parents. “The responsibility for raising spiritual champions, according to the Bible, belongs to the parents…the responsibility is squarely laid at the feet of the family. This is not a job for specialists. It is a job for parents.” (George Barna, Revolutionary Parenting).
The goal of the youth pastor and his ministry team is to be an assistant coach to the head coaches, the parents. It is the parents’ responsibility to raise the children, and the youth ministry should assist with that goal in various ways. This assistance occurs through the teaching of God’s Word, spiritual counsel and encouragement, and prayer.
Alongside those essential spiritual actions, there are practical aspects that need to be brought to the table. A good assistance coach will help in-game planning, go to the coach when they see a player struggling or injured, and help inform the coach where they lack the knowledge. Youth ministry is no different. The youth ministry team should help the parents game plan. In other words, they should help them develop the spiritual goals for their child and allow the programs and teachings to aid in reaching those goals. Also, it is imperative for the youth ministry to go to the parents when a student is struggling spiritually. There will be times when behavior is inappropriate, words throw up red flags, or things are said in small groups where the parents need to be made aware. Then, the youth pastor can aid in the recovery process. Lastly, there needs to be parent meetings that include youth culture updates, upcoming event information, discussion/advice from other parents and other essential communication that will act as support in the parenting process. After all, it is the responsibility of the coach for the team’s behavior, but the assistant coach has a vested interest in the outcome of the game.
You want to get parents on your team? Make sure you are on their team first.
Stay tuned for next week – a practical way to get parents on your team that will only take about 30 minutes of your time.