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!
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!