A Beautiful Partnership

Every August I begin feeling a little nostalgic. 9.5 years of my ministry career was spent serving middle school and high school students in student ministry. August was exciting! Families were coming back from vacation. Our Fall retreat was just a few weeks away and small groups would begin.

 ………

Towards the end of my time in student ministry, I noticed a shift. Maybe the shift existed well before I discovered it. Student Ministry shifted from something parents regularly supported – students were always involved in their church’s student ministry to family discussions of – “Can we fit this into our schedule?”

 ………

Families are busier than ever. Overall church attendance has dropped from 3 weekends a month to about 2 weekends a month. This is descriptive of what churches would call “Core” or “Committed” families. There are more options than ever for students to experience life during those middle school and high school years.

 ………..

Parents – I would like for you to consider the benefits of partnering with your student ministry as a new school year begins.

 ……….

  1. Every Parent needs to expand their circle of influence. 
 ………..
 
A lot of parents mistake student ministry for another “church lesson.” I’ve heard parents tell me and other student ministry friends – “My kid isn’t getting anything out of our student ministry.” They are not gaining any head knowledge about the Bible or Jesus.

Hosea 4:6 – My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. 
 
The point of student ministry isn’t to make your students smarter. It’s to help your students follow Jesus and navigate life. You can be incredibly intelligent and have no clue of what it means to be human and or navigate life.
 ………
 
When parents expand their circle of influence they are allowing students to get to know other healthy & mature adults that will speak into their life. When I first began student ministry, the big question centered around why students are leaving their faith. Study after study, that I’ve seen, indicates students walk away from their faith because they do not have 3-7 other healthy adults speaking into their life. Parents – You can speak into this!
 
……….
  1. Students are experience rich, but relationally poor.
…………

I get the old adage that says, “I just want to give you more than what my parents gave me.” It’s noble. Students have access to more places, ideas, and information than you parents. The car is no longer a symbol of freedom. It’s the smart phone.
………….
There’s an actual shift of older millennials that are spending less money on stuff and more money on experiences. They are buying properties with smaller yards. I think it’s because feeling alive is more important than feeling rich.
…………
I loved that the students, whom I served, were able to experience incredible vacations with you and receive killer presents from you at Christmas. I’m not going to lie. I’m slightly jealous.
…………
However, the benefit that a student ministry affords your students is that they have opportunities to develop deep friendships. This is nothing special. They can get this at school, work, etc. Watching my friends burdened by their sin, at 17, repenting, finding love and community in our student ministry – that’s stuff I’ll never forget. You can’t pay for that experience. You can’t wrap that up in a Christmas present.
………..
The first time I was called out on my sin was when I was in student ministry. The first time I was out of line with another friend and had to learn to reconcile that relationship and was learning the bigger picture of reconciliation – I was in student ministry.

…………

  1. Students need to feel the burden and joy of leadership.
…………. 
 
Pastoring people is wildly different than your student leading a student council, basketball team, or a debate team. When your student steps into student leadership, they get to see first hand what it looks like to lead, navigate, and pastor the human heart. Your student leader now could be a church elder, pastor, leader of their church when they are in their 30’s. The possibilities are endless.
 
 …………
 
My passion and burden for people who do not yet follow Jesus comes from my student ministry days. I don’t know how strong that burden would be had I not been part of a student ministry that allowed me to be a student leader, play music in the student band, preach, lead retreats, and throw dodgeball’s, at middle schooler’s heads. It was a blast.
 
 ………….
 
Christian leadership is unlike any other kind of leader. It’s upside down leadership. It puts your future student’s employees ahead of themselves. It teaches them to care more about team culture than always crushing whatever future sales goal they might have. Student ministry gives them this opportunity.
………….
  1. Your student ministry should partner with vs in replace of. 
 ………….
 
Your student pastor should have the view that a student ministry exists to come along side of you and not replace you. Parents will always have more time with their student than any student ministry. Parents are the spiritual champions in their kids lives. Student ministries get to partner with you and not replace you.
 
 …………..
 
Parents need student pastors and adult leaders who are willing to reinforce what is being said at home. The oldest trick in the book is for students to ask their student pastor what they think about an incident at home and hope the student pastor agrees with him. It always makes me laugh when students are stunned by the fact that maybe their parents have a good point and maybe it might be worth listening to them. This happens when parents value student ministry and make it a priority. Soul care is critical piece to a student’s development.
 ………..
 
Parents will want other adults crying as hard as they will cry at graduation. One of the most incredible experiences I had, in student ministry, was graduation day. I watched parents and small groups leaders, who walked with that students from middle school to high school, cry just as hard as the parents. Why? When parents partner with the church there’s an experience that stays with students, parents, and leaders throughout the rest of their lives.

………..

Final Thought

 ……….

Parents – You have been given the awesome responsibility to parent, lead, and guide your teen. The beauty of your local church is this – you don’t have do it alone.

……….

Student pastors won’t be there for every life event. You get to be! While your student is in middle school and high school, a beautiful partnership can form the heart of your student.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s