Some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way in partnering with parents. Hope you find this podcast helpful in your student ministry.
Some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way in partnering with parents. Hope you find this podcast helpful in your student ministry.
Hard to believe…10 years of Youth Ministry. Praise the Lord for his grace, for the patience of teens and their parents, and the countless times God has brought strength to my weakness.
And get this…my article on the 10 Lessons Learned from 10 Years in Ministry has been published by Youth Specialties. Go check it out and be encouraged.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE.
Last week, I wrote on the importance of being on the same team as the parents in your youth ministry. I cannot overstate how critical it is to have a parental connection and partnership within your student ministry. The trust and credibility you build with parents will only bring value and growth. Parents will provide the support you need in various ways and you will be able to provide valuable insight and encouragement to their parenting journey.
Today, I’d like to share with you one practical method of getting parents on your team. It’s not a trick or an ulterior motive ploy. On the contrary, you hopefully have the same heart as the parents, and that is to see their child grow in their relationship with the Lord and reach their full potential of using their God-given abilities and gifts.
One way that happens is through Parent/Pastor Conferences. You heard me. Why can’t teachers have all the fun with parent/teacher conferences. After all, aren’t youth pastors/workers/leaders also teaching their children valuable material (the most valuable actually) and need to give progress updates to the parents and find ways we can work together at church and home to allow the student to achieve continued spiritual growth? In actuality, this meeting has more significance (no offense teachers, you are most appreciated), but not because of the teacher’s place in the student’s life, but because the church teaches about that which is eternal.Shouldn’t parents and pastors sit down and discuss ways they can partner with each other to allow the teenager to fight temptation, grow in their spiritual disciplines and gifts, and experience spiritual growth. I can hear you scream YES from here! So how is this done? I’m glad you asked.
That’s it. 5 steps to conducting a parent/pastor conference. Just another way to get parents on your team. You will be pleasantly surprised at the value this provides in your personal ministry to teens, and in your relationships with parents. Trust, encouragement, direction, blessing, and counsel all happens in 30 minutes. Give is a try, and get on the same team with those parents.
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.
Think back to that person that invested in you. Where would you be without those late night conversations, the advice over a milkshake, or the shoulder to cry on.
Take this man named Myron. An ordinary guy who decided to invest in the next generation. And now, while in the midst of a difficult time, he is reaping the reward of all those hours spent helping young people.
Ask any youth ministry veteran what they wished they did more of in their first few years of ministry, and partnering with parents will probably be in their top 3, if not their top wish. It is so important to get on the same team as your parents in youth ministry. This book will help you be the assistant coach to the head coach (parents) that you can be.
Book Review: Team Up by Phil Bell
Pep Talk. Skeptical of involving parents in your ministry? Well, at least read chapter one and then let me know what you think. The author does a great job grabbing the reader’s attention in the first chapter to explain the importance of parent involvement.
Practice Makes Perfect. At the end of each chapter, the practice drills are dynamite. They provide ways to implement everything you just read. These could also be put to good use in parent meetings.
Super Practical. Man, I came away from this book with tons of ideas for parent meetings and boosting my relationships with parents. How do you do parent meetings, how do you communicate, how do you _______. It’s all there and the steps are all written out. Right on Phil Bell!
Gimme Some Cheat Codes. The only thing I really feel like this book is missing is some devotional or lessons for parents using God’s Word. It would be nice to get some example of lessons or portions of the parent seminars that were mentioned in the book. I’m not looking to copy the entire presentation, but passages used, more detail of topics covered, and lessons that proved to be effective would be beneficial for the reader.
The Grade: A-. Talk about a practical ministry book that everyone in youth ministry should read. This would be the one. After reading it, I texted a few of my youth ministry buddies right away and told them about this one. So this me telling you all, get this book and be encouraged by ways you can minister to and with parents.
No Task is too Small
I’ve been given many tasks while being an intern. This ranges from sweeping the floor to filling water for the fridge. But none of it is meaningless. This continuously points to the servant leadership that Christ desires for all.
Cling to Mentors
Listen to everything that your mentors tell you. These are the Godly people who you desire to be in the future. Ask them questions. See how they interact with problems. See how they follow after Christ. This is all God’s way of pointing you to Himself and showing you how you can serve Him in vocational ministry in the future.
Invest in People
Just because you are only in that position for a short amount of time doesn’t mean that you can slack off with the relationship side of ministry. Find people who you can disciple and point to Jesus. They need to see how personal He is and a lot of the ways that He is personal is through His body. The Spirit points us to the people that we are meant to be with and we are able to use what we are learning in Scripture to point others to a greater knowledge and love for Him.
Don’t Focus so much on your Work that you Neglect Christ
Just because you are doing the work of the ministry doesn’t mean that you can stop investing in your own relationship with Christ. Make sure you are spending time in the Word and having deep times of prayer. Find things that stir your affections for Him. This can be by getting into nature, reading a good book, spending time with others, drinking a good cup of coffee, watching a good movie, or anything else that really gets you excited to serve Christ.
Don’t put yourself on a Pedestal
While being in a ministry position as an intern it is easy to think that you need to have it all together. This is insane! Thanks to sin, we will never have it all together. But this gives us the ability to follow after a relationship with Christ with other flawed people. So if you are hurting, let them know because then they can start to point you to Christ even better than before.
Has this ever happened to you in the summer? You plan a canoe trip and three teens show up? Or you put together a whiffle ball home run derby, one guy shows up, and is automatically declared the winner? These are true stories from my ministry. Summer events can be frustrating. Whether it is the different schedule of summer, vacations, or sports camps…it proves to be difficult to host a successful summer event. So, over the years, as I have evaluated the summer ministries, I have found two effective ways to do summer ministry.
#1 – Scale Down
Take a breather. Listen, with week-long mission trips, camps, mission projects, Vacation Bible School…your attendance at weekly meetings will begin to dip. The philosophy of scaling down in summer youth ministry is highly debated. You will find the “summer is the best time to do ministry” crowd. And if that works for you, Praise God. But, in my experience, keeping the normal ministry schedule has resulted in low attendance, picking and choosing of ministry involvement, and tired leaders.
Instead, we put our energy and passion into the other events of the summer. We serve together for big children’s ministry events. We build our efforts towards mission trips and projects. Our leaders recoup and find refreshment. And you know what happens when fall rolls around? They are pumped and primed for ministry! The summer builds up that opening night of the school year schedule.
#2 – Summer Hang Out
The summer schedule is unpredictable. So, as Kevin Durant would say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. Use informal time to build into the students. Take a few guys out for ice cream, babysit for your wife to take some girls out for coffee, or invite some teens over for a ministry project during the week. Use this time for some informal discipleship, catching up, and building unity over the summer.
We posted an announcement on Facebook to let the students know their leaders were available to hang out sometime this summer. Some girls called my wife to have dinner. I was able to have lunch with a few guys the last few weeks. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but the conversations have been priceless. What I want to happen at events (informal discipleship) is happening in this brief get-together.
What about you? What works for you in the summer? I’d love to hear your secrets to a successful summer.
The intern’s first day. It’s been on your calendar for months now. Almost blinking at you with red, neon lights. What will I have him/her do for the whole summer? How much is too much? What if I tell them all I know in the first day and then having nothing else to share?
With anything, it is good to have a plan. Internships should provide on-job training for a future occupation. What type of training will you provide? Internships aren’t like what you see on the movies where you just have them take in your dry cleaning, pick up donuts & coffee, and answer all your phone calls. A church internship probably does not want to resemble the “Devil Wears Prada”. It should be more like “The Youth Pastor Wears Old Nike’s”.
Here’s a basic plan for your youth intern:
This is a good start for your internship experience. If you implement this model for your intern, it should provide them with great training and experience for their next phase in ministry. Hoping this will allow them to walk away more excited about how God can use them in mighty ways serving Him.
In Philippians 3:14, Paul was not talking about youth ministry goals. But I still love the phrase “press on toward the goal”. In ministry, you must do just that…”press on”. It is important to reflect on your past accomplishments, like I did last week, and grow from your mistakes and build on your successes. But, it is also vital in ministry to look ahead, plan, and seek God’s guidance for the year ahead. Below are 10 goals for the 2016 ministry year. Hopefully these will provide you with ideas and/or encouragement for the coming year.