Replacing vs. Partnering with parents

Partnering with parentsThe more I read youth ministry blog posts, it feels like there’s a growing dichotomy between how we work with parents in our youth ministries.

The first approach doesn’t come right out and say this, but to me it feels like we’re essentially replacing parents by assuming the roles and responsibilities scripture gives to parents. That includes things like:

  • assuming responsibility for teenagers’ spiritual growth
  • preparing them for the future
  • building a spiritual foundation for them
  • teaching good morals
  • helping them make right choices and establish good habits
  • keeping their focus on Jesus
  • and more.

If the primary goal of our youth ministry is to accomplish these things without parents (even in practice if not in theory), I think we think too highly of ourselves than we ought.

The second approach looks at this list and knows that it’s not their place to be the primary caregiver in these areas, so instead they say, “Let’s figure out how we can enable parents to be effective in these roles.” The key is that these youth ministries do not primarily attempt to fill these roles, but proactively look for ways to help parents succeed in them and link arms however they can.

Is there overlap between the two? Of course. But there’s a subtle, yet distinct, difference that is essential to partnering with parents instead of just replacing them, and then wondering why parents aren’t stepping up to do their part.

QUESTION: Do you see a difference between replacing and partnering with parents? What effects does each have on our youth ministries and teenagers?

Posted on March 27, 2012

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