Danger: Trusting everything a student tells you. I know most dads want to think the very best about their student. So, for example, if (insert your student’s name) says that they are reading their Bible, most dads take that for face value. When what the student really may be saying is that they are spending one minute looking at the Bible so that they can tell their dad they are reading their Bible.

Solution: Actually engage your student in conversation. Talk with them. Ask questions. Probe the statement they are making. In every arena. Not just Bible reading, but talk with about school, and other activities. Take time to go have Starbucks, cast a line, or go for a drive time and really talk to them. They need it. You need it! This is a form of spiritual protection…knowing about your student.

Danger: Spiritual health is just another aspect of our busy life. Corporate worship, Christian fellowship, and Christian accountability are just other items on our long list of things that we do. In fact, we typically do those things when we don’t have anything else to do (homework, sports practices/games, family trips, attending sporting events, etc…). Students are taught through this behavior that spiritual health is something that we are ultimately concerned with when we have nothing else to do.

Solution: Make spiritual health a priority for your family and its members. Don’t miss corporate worship. Don’t allow your students to make excuses for missing church (i.e. no one else is going, I have too much homework, I have a game, etc..) There are certainly occasions when families miss church (which should be rare). The idea is to promote the importance of Christian fellowship and accountability. When you are forced to be out of town as a family, find a church to attend on Sunday mornings. Communicate to your students that they cannot be involved in extracurricular activities that draw you as a family away from church by playing/performing on Sundays. This reinforces the fact that our spiritual health is the ultimate priority in your family. This too is spiritual protection!

Danger: Tell them what they should be doing, but don’t model it in your own life. They need to see it in you! When is the last time your students saw you tell yourself “No” to something? Yes, you tell them no to things (which by the way is, in many cases, the right thing to do), but they never see you telling yourself “no” for the sake of the gospel and glory of the Lord. In my opinion, this is the greatest exposure to spiritual danger for students. A hypocrite. If there is one thing that a student can recognize and see instantly it’s a hypocrite. Satan can use that to either push them totally away from the faith or damage their faith significantly.

Solution: Students need genuineness. They need to see you talk a big game and live a big game for Christ. They need you to be open and honest with them. They need to know areas in which you struggle and when you mess up (you will!) they need you to man up to your mistakes, ask the Lord and your family for forgiveness, and commit to doing better for the glory of God. Too many dads either don’t allow their students to see who they really are (which makes them hypocrites in the eyes of their students) or they simply aren’t really who they say they are (which is the definition of a hypocrite).

Tony Richmond is the High School Pastor at First Baptist Church Keller in Keller, Texas.

There have been some great discussions on the future of youth ministry as it relates to the family and focusing on parents being the primary disciplers of their teenagers. And while the Deuteronomy 6 principles are clear I don’t think the answer is to throw out youth ministry as we know it as some have claimed.

I’ve been preparing for a discussion panel here at the D6 Conference in Dallas and had a few thoughts about a hybrid idea to bring families more central to the discipleship process while keeping the strengths of a healthy kids and student ministry. Here’s one way, would love to hear yours in the comments!

Kids Ministry
Dads and moms are the primary disciplers. They are actively engaged in their child’s spiritual growth. Children welcome their parents at this age and it feels natural and right. Parents are small group leaders; parents receive books, resources and training on raising their kids spiritually in the church and at home. Parents, pastors and young adults spiritually adopt and mentor kids in the church who don’t have the privilege to have parents of faith. There are worship services designed both together and separate from each other at this young age.

Junior High Ministry
At this point parents are beginning the earliest stage of helping their children grow spiritually without them being present all of the time. Plenty is still being caught and taught at home, but a transition is slowly starting to be made to help kids own their own faith, not just ride the coattails of their parents’ religion. Parents aren’t at everything, but are included in father/son and mother/daughter events. Other caring, trained, and screened adults come alongside the home to help raise Godly students. This is a natural time of resistance to the parent-child relationship, so while it is still integral to their faith development, we embrace the tension and give them outside voices and a little space to simply affirm what mom and dad are saying at home. These aren’t just any volunteers — they are partners in raising these young men and women in concert with parents.

High School Ministry
Parents are resourced, encouraged, engaged and communicated with extremely well. They are cautiously distant enough in the final formal stages of spiritual training of their child to let their faith become their own. Once a month family services are planned and designed with all ages in mind. There are tons of natural discussions in the home around standards, purity, boundaries, morality and integrity that offer many opportunities for discussion and practical application of Scriptures they’ve learned for years. The emphasis of the high school ministry is to help students grow in and on their own. They are also taught and resourced well, as well as given access to apologetics courses, discipleship events and seminars on topics to help prepare for adult life.

College Ministry , Adulthood
Parenting and pastoring is now done from a distance. They have a faith of their own, having been supported and nurtured from their earliest days. They own a personal faith that lasts a lifetime and is passed to the next generation as well.

What do you think? Just crazy enough it might work. Just an idea, won’t be offended if you don’t agree. I’m not even sure if I do, either!

JG