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Striking The Balance With Parents

We’ve said it since that first day of our training: making parents our partners is crucial to our youth ministry strategy.

That does not mean we abandon our role as youth workers but it rather means adjusting and making sure that our ministry is working alongside and not against the role of parents. In this and the next post taken from our YC I’ve asked two youth leaders I know with much experience in dealing with parents. Here’s some insights from Ethel from her ministry as a youth leader:

In our GYMN material on family we say that “God created the family before He created the church and the youth ministry” to emphasize the role and authority of the parents over their children.

Youth leaders (myself included) have the tendency of becoming idealistic in handling sensitive matters that involve conflict between the youth and especially non-believing parents. We have to be careful how we influence the youth who is struggling with ‘obeying’ his parents. Examples of these are when parents won’t allow their child to go to youth activities, and/or get baptized. Whatever you suggest to your youth will play a great role on how they will decide on such matters.

In our exposure to different churches and places, and when teaching on family in the GYMN seminar, this question is asked regularly, “How do we respond to our parents who do not want us to continue to get involved with the church?” Some of these leaders are honest enough to tell us they ran away from home, some gave advice to their youth to continue despite the parents’ disapproval because “it is Biblical that we get persecuted, even Jesus said to deny our family to follow Him.” Situations like these could lead to broken relationships with the family, and the youth gaining loyalty and identity in us and in the youth group instead.

How do we strike the balance?

Through our own set of mistakes, we have also learned to give weight to preserving relationship within the family at a cost, even if that means reaching the point of youth not being able to join our youth activities anymore.

We should also learn to trust the parents even those outside the faith, seeing their heart in being protective, especially when the youth start to show independence.  Our role as youth minister is also to encourage the youth to live a life and make decisions that would honor their parents. At the same time, we meet and talk with the parents informing them of our objective to help and involve their kids in our youth group.  We continue to communicate with the parents in any way possible to let them know what’s going on.

We become more aware of how we schedule our meetings, and how much time we demand from the kids, making sure we do not compete with their family and/or study time.

We also teach the youth to honor their parents, and respect their belief. We help the new believing youth how to respectfully respond to his parents and how to behave in such a way that they won’t be viewed as arrogant and disrespectful. Let us guide the youth not to be assertive of their new found faith, reminding him that the most effective way of conveying faith in Jesus is by showing it. Leading the youth in a godly and family-oriented perspective will help them avoid tension and increase their desire to pursue quality relationship with their family (especially if there is none). This will help our youth ministry as well, in avoiding or at least minimizing conflict between parents and church.

How the youth pastor and youth leaders give value to their own family is also a huge example for the youth of how they will honor their parents regardless if they are believers or not.

  • ptr frank

    These are very helpful for youth leaders to understand better where non-christian parents come from when it comes to their children especially the young people. Thank you guys and God bless!

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