And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Parents are vital to the task of discipleship in the church. For a youth ministry to be truly efficient at creating disciples, that fact must be realized and utilized.
In Scripture parents are commanded to invest in teaching their children their faith, as well as telling children to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-4). According to Reggie Joiner in his book Think Orange, parents influence their child up to 3,000 hours per year, whereas the church only averages 40 hours per year (Joiner, 87-88). Such a sharp contrast should cause us to really consider the importance of involving parents in the ministry. God has placed them in the lives of their children with the highest advantage of affecting their lives for God. Steve Wright also brings up the importance of seeing parents as central to effectively doing ministry in his book ReThink. Wright states that “student ministry from a biblical framework views parents as indispensable ministry partners.” He goes on to ask us to “imagine what it could look like if student pastors spent time with parents creating a clear plan of action where both church and family knew what they needed to do” in order to create healthy mature disciples (Wright, 51-52).
In order for youth ministry to have its intended affect, we must learn to partner closely with parents. This means familiarizing parents with the goals and the teachings of the ministry regularly. This also means seeking their input on the ministry’s vision and teaching. Whenever the ministry seeks to make plans, it should be seeking the insights of the parents along the way.
The youth ministry must also seek to make sure that they do not replace the parents as the primary spiritual guides, but should seek to equip parents in their endeavors to train their own children; equipping them through their struggles and successes. This means offering parent meetings, where the parents can come together to be encouraged by each other. This is a time in which the youth staff can learn of the problems and dreams of the parents regarding the raising of their children, and can help equip them with biblical truth and practical advice. This way both the youth staff and the parents are mutually working together to reach their goal of discipling the students to Christ like maturity.
The process of discipleship is far too important for any of us not to take advantage of partnering together to train up our youth. The Lord has created us for community; to grow together in the church and the home. We must acknowledge that and seek to work together, intentionally, to change the lives of the students that He has entrusted to us.