Weekend Teaching Series: How to Raise Your Parents (series premiere, week 1 of 3)

Sermon in a Sentence: Your relationship with your parents is up to you.
Service Length: 69 minutes

Understandable Message: This week Doug Fields taught students from God’s Word about their relationship with their parents. He did a great job helping students understand that they control much of their relationship with their parents – if they respected and honored their parents, it would take them far. His usual mix of rumor and truth was super.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we had some more fun with HSM Talks, and Chris did a really creative announcement that was part live and part video – a dream about going to HSM Summer Camp. Simple, clean and solid weekend.

Music Playlist: Go, Divine and Holy, Revelation Song, Hosanna

Favorite Moment: My favorite moment was that during each service our junior high services dismissed the 8th graders out for a little root-beer-float-HSM-summer camp promo time. We had a couple students share about their camp experience, and had a raffle for a free camp registration. Super fun relational time with the soon to be freshman.

Up Next: How to Raise Your Parents (week 3 of 3, parent panel and series finale)

Posted by Scott Rubin

Whether or not you’re super-organized in your teaching plan, most of us would agree that it’s important to have a curriculum: “What We’re Planning To Teach Students.” Maybe you map it out a year ahead, or maybe you’re flipping through your Bible on the way to youth group. But we need to know what we’re going to teach. A series on prayer, a camp theme about friendships, a series on the book of Habakkuk–it comes together to form our planned curriculum.

The term “hidden curriculum” has been around for a while. It basically means “the stuff that’s learned that wasn’t overtly intended”… and I think it’s fascinating and very significant to take into account. And if you hang around any group long enough (youth ministry or not), you’ll pick up on their hidden curriculum!

The hidden curriculum is more about how do we do stuff than what we say–the unwritten rules and unspoken expectations. It’s less about what we teach, and more about what we DO (and don’t do). It’s definitely not limited to church, either. Almost all parents tell their kids to “be honest”, right? That could be called the “curriculum”. But the hidden curriculum is what gets communicated when two parents and a kid are sitting at home and the phone rings. The mom answers the phone and looks at the dad who shakes his head “no.” She then tells the caller Dad’s not there. What’s ACTUALLY being taught (the hidden curriculum) is that honesty is a really good value–except for the times that lying is more convenient.

The hidden curriculum in our ministries can range from the feel of the room to how an adult treats a student to the body language of those “on stage” for any program element. We can post a message on youth group’s website that says NEW STUDENTS ARE WELCOME HERE! But when no one speaks to the newcomers when they arrive, the hidden curriculum says “We don’t actually care enough to talk to you.”

But, when we pay attention to the hidden curriculum, great things can happen.

An illustration from a couple weeks ago during a message on trust for a How to Raise Your Parents series.


If you are a parent or a youth worker…than you have heard these four little words before:

“Everybody is doing it!”

You can choose your it…sex, alcohol, swearing, cheating, gossiping…Pick your poison!

Take sex for example…in this past week, I have found that in THEIR world…those words can be true. Just a few highlights from the week:

1. Went to a local surf shop with my husband and found the most offensive boardshorts (boardshorts!!) I have ever seen. I took a picture but I am pretty certain it’s not a good idea for me to post them. Basically, they are shorts with actual pictures of NAKED women. Boardshorts with pictures of real live ladies’ butts. What? Who buys these things??

2. Met with another youth worker who was talking about a group of girls that she works with and of the 5 or 6 girls all of them are struggling with sexual temptation. And they are finding that the fact that they are all doing it…justification for them doing it. Girls from church in a small group…having sex and saying it’s okay because we are all doing it.

Everybody is doing it. In their world…it just might be true.

How can we help?

1. Get in their world. Don’t let them be there alone without a caring adult.

2. Make their world bigger. Introduce them to the world of people who aren’t doing it. Show them their life is bigger than this moment…and their current world.

3. Keeping introducing Jesus to their world. It can be easy to get caught up in it all. But Jesus can change everything. Never tire of His story. When you are feeling overwhelmed by their world – remember that he knows it and can overcome it.

Let’s help our girls out of their world!

The second bumper video for our How To Raise Your Parents series in HSM. The ending changes each week, fun!


So many aspects of youth ministry leadership find themselves in direct opposition of each other. The problem is – they both can be necessary and good things. The first step is to identify the tensions of youth ministry, and then figure out how to manage them. Here are a few of them I’ve identified, feel free to add another in the comments if one comes right to mind:

Tasks vs. People
There is work to be done! And administrative work and email is part of the gig. But the tension could push you to fail people or fail at paperwork. You can’t do either one! There is a tension here, but a competent youth pastor has to fight though the tension and balance both well.

Program vs. Relationships
I love a great program – but the programs and services we offer pail in comparison to what the world offers. Yes, we need to spend time crafting and creating incredible programs and creative elements to share the timeless message of Christ. At the same time – we offer so much more than that! We LOVE people! There is another tension at stake, and neither can suffer. Get the program stuff done, even done well, and pour into people.

Crowd vs. Individual
I am a crowd person al the way, but the tension is to find time to focus on the individual. Both are critically important! I live in this tension every week, and must remember that the crowd is made up of individuals. Every moment that you spend with individuals builds your crowd, and in every crowd situation you have to focus on the individual.

One last one for now … this old post from 2008 about Workaholic vs. Passionate Worker might be a good read.

What else do you see as a tension of youth ministry?


Don’t be shocked when your small groups start to really fall off at the end of the year – unfortunately in my experience and conversations with other youth workers it is completely normal. I think there are a few ways to fight it (that would make a good post in the future) but here’s the reality of our small group attendance each year:

October – 95%
This is the kickoff season of the year but even them we can never quite get 100% of everyone that signed up actually in attendance. There is a great launch momentum piggybacking on the back to school season that helps bring everyone out to group. We also charge $30 for small groups, and that investment helps everyone value that while the cost is still on their mind.

January – 75%
Attendance is usually pretty good through the fall and the start to a new year, I’d be happy with a consistent 3 out of 4 students in groups, but as the school year wears on regular attendance becomes more challenging. We hold close to this number I would guess through Spring Break. Prom season, homecoming and sports seasons are particularly challenging and sometimes in direct competition to groups. Quick aside: just because a group isn’t meeting doesn’t mean great things aren’t happening relationally between the small group leader and their students.

May – 60%
It is hard to believe, but by the end of the school year many groups have just over half the kids they started with. There are bright spots in the groups, some are going strong and a few have all but disbanded. We do our best to keep on trucking through the end of the school year and break for summer.

What does your small group attendance look like especially this time of year?


From time to time I post a youth ministry question that I’ve received and leave it to you, the MTDB youth ministry community, to answer it. This one from a youth worker in Pennsylvania, but it could be from anyone since it applies to so many. Chime in with your wisdom, response and best practices. Go!

I’m a youth pastor that is considering a move from Sunday School to in-home small groups. I wanted some advice on how to make the transition, and if it was the right decision at all. It seems like a good move for us, but there are so many variables. Would appreciate any help – thanks!