An open letter to all youth group parents

NOTE: This is not an actual letter I ever plan to send to my youth group parents, nor do I currently experience all of these problems in my youth ministry in the first place. It is a fictitious letter based on common issues many youth workers would love to address but often don’t have the guts nor freedom to express.

Dear parent,

It seems like more and more of your kids are coming to church without you. I know you see this as a pretty good deal for your student since you get some quiet time at home and most of the events we do are paid-for, but you should know that there is no greater influence in your child’s life than you. Whether they tell you or not, your kid actually wants you involved in their life, even here at church. Come visit us sometime with your student and see how your relationship can grow together!

And then there’s some of you who actually forbid your teenager from attending youth Bible studies. You should know that the church is one of the last places on earth where basic morality and values are still taught, since schools are now forbidden to do so. We teach your teenager to obey you and respect you because that’s what the Lord expects from them. We also help your teenager address matters like relationships, making good choices, and setting priorities. With all the negativity and lies the media is using to bombard teenagers, we remain a light to help steer your student toward a growing relationship with the Lord.

Parents, please guide your child to be faithful in church attendance. Teenagers aren’t allowed to choose whether or not they want to go to school. Neither should you assume that they are mature enough to decide for themselves about church. Please, do not enable them to form the idea that church involvement should be based on the level of entertainment it provides. Teach your student not develop a consumerism mindset of, “What can the church do for me?” but instead approach church with the biblical mindset of, “How can I serve the body?”

What I don’t understand is how you’ll never ground your student from school, yet grounding him/her from church is acceptable, as if academic education is more important than spiritual training. You keep your student at home to watch TV, play on the Internet and listen to the radio when they actually need a good dose of spiritual encouragement. Maybe you should ground them to church instead of away from it.

We love going on trips and pulling off events for your student, but please ensure that he/she honors their commitment. The church invests many resources into these activities and when your child drops out at the last minute, it wastes money that was sacrificially provided by others.

The most important thing you can do is communicate with your student’s youth leaders. If you’re struggling with your child in a specific way, we’d love to pray for you! If you’re trying to teach him/her something at home, we’d love to help reinforce that at church. What you have to share with us can be critically important to how we interact and teach the student at church. Plus, the youth leaders may see and hear things that you should know about, too. Team up with us!

Whether you’re supportive of the youth ministry or not, please do not gossip about it or spread your negativity unless you’re speaking directly to me about it. Especially do not share your “critical evaluation” of the ministry or about individuals in it when you’re at home. You’ll only raise your children to be cynical and negative toward the church. They will grow up viewing church with the perspectives you model, so please be a gracious in your speech and attitude.

I’m actually not against criticism at all. In fact, I embrace your loving and respectful feedback since you can often see important issues I may never notice. However, please come straight to me with your concerns. Going to anyone else first is what the Bible calls gossip. When you come to me with a problem, also come prepared to offer a solution and the willingness to be a part of resolving the issue.

Thank you for your support! I pray for you regularly and hope we can continue to partner together in seeing your students’ lives transformed into a reflection of Christ.

— Your Youth Pastor

Posted on April 21, 2008

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