Let’s talk about essential parenting.
I believe that youth pastors and youth workers miss a key moment of influencing the parents of teenagers. I would like to share a couple of thoughts that I want you to take away from this.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 HCSB it says this “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
These words have to take hold of not only our own personal lives but these words have to take hold of the way we do ministry. We miss as youth pastors and youth workers some key opportunities that God has given us in the way of family discipleship. Let me say it this way: we have to encourage the continual process of family discipleship. Encouraging the continual process of family discipleship is key.
Family discipleship is either a continual process or it is not existent. Occasional discipleship is a myth.
The idea that parents would bring their teenagers to our youth groups for a couple of hours on Sunday and Wednesday so that we would make that teenager a disciple of Jesus is an absurd thought. Family discipleship must be a continual process. Parents need to know this. They will make a disciple of what they are. You cannot pass down what you do not possess and if our parents don’t possess an authentic relationship with the Lord Jesus, there’s no way that’s going to be passed down.
Notice that what God is telling us in Deuteronomy 6. It isn’t a moment of discipleship, it is a continual process of talking about the things of the Lord. A continual process of thinking and reflecting on the glory of God, the goodness of God, the things God’s teaching us.
Those are aspects that we can model for parents in the ministries we lead. We can model the ideas of continual conversations with the teenagers in the homes of our church members. But we have to possess first a deep rich love for the Lord.
Notice what God word’s started with in this first passage. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5 HCSB
This is the idea. We need to use whatever influence we can to cultivate a deep love for the Lord in the hearts of our parents. And then be specific when we describe processes of passing this down.
The second key that we need is to invest significant energy in parents. If our focus is only on teenagers, we will miss the opportunity to influence teenagers for the long haul.
Let me give you some practical ideas of how to do this.
1. Over Communicate to parents.
They will appreciate it. When you over communicate whatever role you’re playing in in student ministry, what you’ll be communicating to parents is that their thoughts, their needs, their anxieties are important for you to hear. It’s important for you to speak to whatever fears, whatever question they may have about the student ministry.
2. Provide spiritual growth opportunities for parents.
The first thing we have to do is cultivate a rich love for the Lord God in the hearts of the parents. If you’ve got a great Wednesday night worship setting going on, find some other key adults in your church that can speak life into your youth parents. Provide opportunities for discipleship that are happening at the same time as your youth ministry meetings. Invest a little bit more energy into your parent meetings. Create some moments at the camps, disciple nows or the youth ministry events that you do specifically for spiritual growth opportunities for parents.
3. Become an advocate for authentic adult ministry.
If you’re reading this, your role in your local church probably has fully to do with teenagers. Become an advocate for a solid adult ministry because if you have a solid disciplining adult ministry you will create adults who realize the value of continually disciplining their teenagers. Not in a one moment for one week basis but a continual process.
4. Remember it’s not all about the students.
When you’re leading a mission trip, a camp, parents are present. Take the opportunity and diligently speak life into the parents who are present.
“Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:7 HCSB
I hope that you will join with me in helping parents diligently teach the love of God that’s in their heart to their children. Help parents commit in their hearts to pass down the command of God because it is the word of life.
Thank you for reading this today. It’s a privilege to be a part of what the State Board of Missions is doing and investing in churches in Alabama. May the Lord bless you.
Stephen Hall serves as associate pastor at NorthPark Baptist Church in Trussville, AL.