A few weeks ago I sat at a table in a coffee shop with several other local youth workers. I was wrestling through the idea of youth ministry at Red Door Church that’s based on bringing teens and parents together spiritually, so I asked the group for their thoughts.
Shamus Staubach, the youth pastor at Lakeside Christian Church, shared an idea that I think is brilliant.
He said one of the things they’re trying to do is bring all the parents together each Sunday to discuss what the youth group will be teaching a month from then. The idea is that if the youth ministry can first teach it to the parents and talk practically with them about how they teach it to their kids, then by the time the teens come to youth group they’ve already heard it taught at home for the past month.
There’s a couple things I like about this:
- It gives parents and youth leaders a regularly scheduled time to meet together, link arms, and discuss what’s being taught to the kids, both at home and at church.
- It gives the church the opportunity to train parents to be spiritual leaders, to encourage them, and put them in a “support network” of sorts without making it feel like an AA meeting.
- It puts the parents in the position of being the primary spiritual teacher for their kids because now the youth leaders are supporting and teaching what kids have already heard from their parents. This is the exact opposite of giving parents a take-home sheet of discussion questions that supports what you teach their kids instead.
Of course, there are a lot of ways you could tweak this. The main question I asked Shamus was about who sets the agenda for what’s being taught: the parents or the youth ministry? He said at first they wanted the parents to set the topics, issues, and scripture passages so they could play a more supportive role, but they quickly learned that many of the parents are very out of touch with what was actually happening in their kids’ lives. So now it’s more of a collaborative effort between the youth ministry and parents that tends to favor the opinion of the small group youth leaders.
QUESTION: How is your youth ministry working to ensure that parents are the primary spiritual leaders for their teens?