In this episode we go to the email bag. We discuss what to do when the ministry you’re serving in is not what you thought. We also discuss parents. Remember, you can leave a question or topic suggestion at

Hope it helps,

AC & Kurt

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1We are back this week with our Let’s Talk Youth Ministry video blog after taking some time off for the summer. We discuss how to keep the momentum of your small group launch rolling, and also how we handle parents concerning life groups. If you have any questions or topics you would love for us to talk about just email us at


Hope it helps,

Kurt & AC

customer-misconceptions2One thing that I get to do in pastoral care is meet with parents. It is super great when the conversations are awesome, but it’s the worst when tough conversations have to happen.

So I thought I would list a few mistakes I’ve made concerning dealing with parents and my learnings.

  1. Assuming They Know. – I had to learn that parents are learning and growing in parenting, just as much as I’m growing as a youth pastor. They don’t have all the answers, and I can’t just assume they do. I also can’t assume they understand what we are here for and I definitely can’t hold them accountable for something I’m assuming they should know. Example: You can’t just assume a parent understands the importance of presence vs. presents in a child’s life. I had to learn “STOP ASSUMING”.
  2. I Can Help Without Them. – With any pastoral care issue you increase the chances of healing and restoration when the parents are involved. They are still the number one influence in a students life. Now, I totally understand cases where parents may not be there to help, but the idea that I can help apart from them, will in the long run not hold true. You will burnout and eventually leave the student to fighting on their own. Because after they leave the ministry you must move on to the next set of students that are coming in with their own problems. I had to learn to INVITE THE PARENTS INTO THE PROCESS.
  3. I’m Only Ministering To Students. – When you minister to the students you are ministering to the parents. Maybe the message is different, but you are ministering to them as well. A lot of parents stress out and anxiety comes from worrying about their children. Some worry about their kids socially, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I know as a parent I’m always thinking “Well, what do my children think about this or that?” When my children come home from small groups or church and they are telling me what they’ve learned or it comes up out of the blue, it ministers to me. I feel super blessed by our kids ministry. We’ve even had parents start coming to church who had given up on it, because their child started coming. We’ve had parents give their lives to Christ because their child started coming to church. I had to learn “THE MORE INTENTIONAL I AM ABOUT MINISTERING TO STUDENTS, THE MORE I MINISTER TO THEIR PARENTS.”
  4. Parents Can Participate If They Choose To. It’s our job to communicate to parents the important role they play in their child’s spiritual development. They need to know Deuteronomy 6 was written to them and not the youth leader. Now, I know some may say well my parents weren’t involved and look how I’m in ministry. And I would say praise be to God for intervening, because that is not the norm. Parents are essential because they are the number one influencer. God created parents with the ability and authority to mold and direct. Do yourself a favor and encourage their participation in the spiritual growth of their child. For some parents you will be confirming some things they are already doing. Others you will be introducing them to something new. Think about how to do this in the context of your ministry. I’ve had to learn “I NEED TO ENCOURAGE PARENTS IN THIS AREA, INSTEAD OF ALLOWING THEM THE CHOICE.”

I could go on and on, but I thought I’d share my top four. The key to keeping parents in mind is to remember that you are support and not primary. What’s been a mistake you’ve made dealing with parents?

Hope this helps,


Need to find a way to communicate more effective with parents of teens in your youth ministry? Try PARENT CONNECT, an editable monthly newsletter for parents. 

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We are only one week and a half or so from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference.  It is probably one of my favorite times of the year.  This particular conference has truly become a place where I gather with friends to talk about ministry.  I learn so much, I laugh and I hang out with people who “get me.”  In addition I have the honor of teaching and serving on peer panels.  This is how I get to meet those with fresh ideas and hear about youth min. all over the world.  I thought it might be fun to share what I am teaching this year and why it’s close to my heart.

I mean you see the titles, you read the bios, but do you have any idea why us speakers care about what we do?  So this week I would like to break down my sessions for you.


Partnering With A New Generation Of Parents: (Saturday, 9 AM):

I have been in some form of family ministry for over two decades now.  (Yes, that means I’m old.)  When I started out it was in a rural area.  The running joke has always been that it took forever to gather all of my students not because I had so many, but because they lived so far away from each other.  This was the first time I was exposed to “Christian” households that hid affairs, problems and issues.  Most of my students did have two parents in the home, but that didn’t mean they were happy homes.  Fast forward as the Lord plops me in the inner city.  I remember in my first week a 10 year old girl asking me my age.   When I told her, “24,” her response was a gleeful, “That’s the same age as my Mom!” I honestly, had no idea how to respond, as the reality of two things hit me:  1. How young her Mom was when she had her.  2.  She had 2 siblings.

I continued to meet students in these areas who came from single parent households.  Dads were nonexistent in their lives.  It was not uncommon for there to be multiple children with the same Mom and different fathers.  Time marched on and I began to help out with suburban youth ministry.  I saw patterns of divorce there.  I met kids from rich homes whose parents were workaholics.  I talked with churches all over the country and I started hearing the same stories.  The traditional “family unit” was melting away.  Grandparents and family members  were raising grandchildren. Kids were growing up in foster care and group homes.  Children were navigating four parents as divorce and remarriage occurred.  The situations may have looked different at one time in rural, suburban and inner city areas,  however,  I have seen in recent years that the same scenarios are playing out everywhere.

Honestly, I pointed fingers at who I thought were “unworthy” to spiritually lead their children.  I put myself in the position of Savior and Hero when everyone else let them down.  That’s when the Lord convicted me of 3 things:

     No matter how much time I spent with any student at some point they would “go home.”

I could not ever be the Savior, there is only one.

God’s heart for the family is for it to be whole.  

The Lord pointed me to places in His Word about His thoughts of the family and the way He wants it to be.  I saw that as I decided that “some” parents “could” never “get there,”  I was actually becoming part of the problem and not the solution.

That’s why I have taken up the cause to see every parent, every family the way the Lord does: redeemed.  Will every family get there?  Of course not.  Is it what Jesus longs for?  Absolutely.  My responsibility is to keep asking Him to give me His eyes in the situation.

I feel responsible to learn how to partner with this new generation of families, and help them see what Christ does.  Will you join me as we learn how to do this together?

Do you have any specific questions on this topic you might like me to answer in my workshop?

Tune in tomorrow for: “Building Relationships In A Fake Relational World.”
Leneita / @leneitafix

A new generation of families.  

Someone said to me yesterday, “The unconventional family is becoming the new norm.”  Divorced, blended, unchurched, de-churched, and “baby mama,” are all a reality.  Grandparents, foster parents, relatives and friends are all raising “someone else’s” children, right here in America.  I talked to a young woman just the other day who said, “It shocked me when I became a volunteer in a wealthy church how handy my counseling degree would be with those kids. They are abused, neglected and isolated.”

The question is this?  How will we choose to view them?  I had the opportunity last month to speak to the audience at the D6 Family Conference and share my thoughts. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for loving students,





You are on the phone with Mr. Murphy… again.  You have given him every detail for the overnight event about a million times. He is letting you know why the movie you are planning on taking the students to is inappropriate. Not long ago, he also let you know his son would not be attending the series you were teaching on “Social Media.”  His children were not allowed to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine or anything else for that matter. They would learn the skills of communicating using their audible voice.

The Murphys seem to want to protect their children from any and every influence outside of their control.  If they could send them out the door in an astronauts suit, you are sure they would.

You can’t disagree with their parenting. Their children are respectful, and want to live for Jesus. They don’t seem tempted by “the world,” because their exposure to it is limited. However, you also have a mix of students in your group that come from unchurched families and are exposed to EVERYTHING. You are trying to teach students how to be inclusive to all, without pushing the Murphy family away.

So how do we walk through dealing with “over-protective” parents:


It really doesn’t matter who the parents are. Over-communicating solves a myriad of problems.  Send letters and emails home that tell what’s coming up each week. What will you be teaching?  What type of illustrations will you be using? Use this as a way to include parents in talking to their children about what is coming, or to make the choice to pull their children from group that week.


Make sure whenever you are planning an event, that you have thought through and communicated every detail of who, what, where, when and how to the parents. Let them know what’s happening, step-by-step, as much as possible.


Mr. Murphy is not the parent that will like “last minute” ideas with his child.  Plan ahead.

Ask permission

Before you ask his child to do something beyond regular program ideas. Bounce it off of the parents first. THEN ask the student.

Build your Parental Reputation:

Make sure that you stick to the plans that you create. Be on time getting students to and from activities. Make sure that all parents know exactly what you will be doing and when.

Opinions Vs. Truth:

Remember sometimes their disagreement is just their opinion.  One parent may be against “Harry Potter,” because it is about “magic.”  Another may let their child get into that series while they aren’t allowed to watch anything about vampires.  We aren’t going to make the Murphys happy all the time, and it isn’t our job to. It is however,  their right to know what we will be using to influence their child, and make the decision as to whether or not they will allow them to participate.

Parent Trainings:

A friend of mine does an amazing job of hosting trainings to educate parents on culture and current trends.  Sometimes parents are afraid, because they may not know that Facebook has controls on it, or that Instagram can be set to private. They honestly may not know that our national obsession with vampires has shifted to include zombies. These meetings are invaluable. Does every parent come? No. Do many? Yes.

Remember, all we can do is tell the Murphys that we are on their side, and we respect them.  They may complain, and be unhappy even then. They are just trying to raise their kids the best they can.

How do you navigate “over-protective” parents?



The “Blaming” Parent

 —  October 29, 2013 — 1 Comment


You thought that youth program had gone well that night. The small group discussion touched on a difficult topic, but it truly felt like the Lord spoke through you. The kids had been so responsive. When you didn’t know an answer to their question you told them. As a group you wrestled with some deep thoughts.

The next morning you get a call from Mrs. Smith. “What did you teach on last night?”  she asked. You are confused, knowing her daughter Roya probably had told her. For a few minutes you explain. Mrs. Smith goes on,  “I didn’t appreciate it at all. You really messed Roya up. You gave her a lot of misinformation.”

Continuing, Mrs. Smith transitions from calm to accusatory. “You shouldn’t teach a small group anymore. I heard you don’t even teach the Bible and just give the students your opinion on life.” The conversation ends with Mrs. Smith informing you her next call is to “the pastor,” for you are only “part-time anyway”. Not only does Mrs. Smith call the pastor, she starts calling all of her friends in the church.

Your “boss” supports you. He doesn’t feel like you have done anything wrong. When you talk to him, you give him every angle of the conversation from the last evening. Now your integrity has come into question from several of the parents.  You don’t want to talk to your friends about it, because they are in the church as well and you don’t want to be divisive.

Sound extreme? I think many of us have had a variation of this experience.

How do you handle Mrs. Smith?
Pray for her:

Our feelings are crushed in these types of situations. We would love to just crawl in a hole and die. Hurting people hurt people, even in the church. Our feelings may be crushed, but there is a deeper reason here. We don’t want  to lose Roya, so we need to learn how to deal with Mrs. Jones. Pray.

 The Rule of Twos:

Is this a pattern with Mrs. Smith?  Does she call often and blame you for something? Offer to sit down with her with leadership that is “above” you. Approach your Senior leadership, and ask them how they would like you to proceed. When your “boss” has your back then you can know how to move forward.

Face to Face Meetings: 

Make sure that any phone call is followed up with a face to face meeting. (See The Rule of Twos)

Email Communications:

If she interacts with you on an email, CC any contact with her to your senior leadership.  Avoid written communication as much as possible.  While it does create a “paper trail,” it also can miscommunicate your intentions easily.

How do we avoid having these conversations in the first place?  Over-communicate to parents on EVERYTHING (more on this tomorrow.)  Sometimes we can’t avoid them, and that makes us sad.

How have you handled the “blaming parent?”





Challenging Parents. Yes they are out there, and as youth workers, we know they are important.

Whether we say it out loud or in our heart  we have all had a moment when we utter: “I just wish THAT PARENT would get out of the way.”  You know, the “ones” that cause a knot to form in the pit of your stomach as you watch them walk toward you.

However, we can’t avoid them. No matter how much time we ever spend with a student, at some point they will go home.  Multiple statistics state whether we consider them “good” or “bad” they are the primary influencers of their children, the ones in our “youth programming.”  We are in the business of “family ministry” whether we give it that title or not

That’s why this week I would like to dedicate my posts to learning how to best work with the parents who we don’t always know “how” to work with.

To engage a parent and let them know you are in this journey with them is powerful.  After today, I will be tackling some of the specific “types” of parents that come our way. However, I have a few initial thoughts:

Every Parent Deserves A Partner:

It is not our “right” to judge a parent. Instead, it is about coming alongside them and aiding them in the growth of their child. Adolescent development dictates that teens are looking for “coaches” and “role models” to guide them.  My son’s Middle School Football team has 9 coaches. Think of it as the parent is the “head” and we get to be one of the remaining 8.

Learn the words “Privilege,” “Honor,” and “Thank You.”

I had a parent show up a few weeks ago to “check out,” the youth programming we offer. Her child has just started attending recently and this single Mom is skeptical about us. I asked her if she might like to be with us for the evening to see what was going on. Then I said,  “Thank you so much for allowing your daughter to come be with us. It is a privilege and an honor that you would allow us to speak into her life.”  This simple phrase lets parents know you are on their side, are not trying in any way to replace them, and respect their position. It is never a “right” to have any student in our youth group.

 Be The Youth Worker/ ALWAYS lead with Respect

You have a job to do.  Every parent understands policies and procedures.  Never be afraid to over communicate to ALL your parents. Let them decide if they think a topic is inappropriate for THEIR child. However, just like a teacher, coach or director you have ways of  “doing things.” You are allowed to respectfully point out expectations to parents.  They understand, they may not like it, but they understand. Then we must remember, it is always their prerogative to decide what it best for THEIR child.


This week we are going to look at some strategies when confronted with “over-protective,” “opinionated,” and “blaming parents.”  Hopefully, some of the ideas will help as navigate the waters with parents.

What are some initial thoughts on ways you approach challenging parents?