The Daunting Task of Family Based Youth Ministry
With all the "big" youth ministers talking about it, books being published about it, and generally all of youth ministry moving towards it, the biggest question still remains: How on Earth do we actually do family based youth ministry? The task of completely overhauling our youth ministries and making them more "family friendly" can seem incredibly daunting, especially when you consider the fact that a good majority of us (who don't have teenagers ourselves) have real problems relating to our parents. It makes for a vicious system where you know what you need to do but you feel completely unequipped to do it.
It can't really be that simple!
As student ministers, we are quick to point out that ministry is ALL about relationships- and for the most part we are really good at building those. What if parent ministry was just as simple? What if we took the same intentionality that we give to building relationships with our students and turned it towards our parents? Sure, it would take some getting used to and it might be a little awkward at first, but knowing the unbelievable need for parent involvement, then shouldn't we at least attempt it?
Although parents face a completely different set of issues, frustrations, and worries, they are looking for people who genuinely care about them and are willing to invest in relationships with them just like our students are. Student ministers already have an in-road into the lives of parents because we love the people that are the most important to them- their children. Bridging these gaps takes time and consistency and simply won't happen because of one family based program or a parent meeting (like anyone even attends those!).
We have opportunities around us every day to connect with parents in a real, healthy way. While at games, try sitting with a parent (or better yet, group of parents) rather than sitting in the student section. Send personal letters to parents with pictures of their kids at your events. Take time to invest in meaningful conversations with them. Do the daily work of building relationships. The end result will be parents who trust you because they KNOW you. Ministry is all about relationships and influence, neither of which can be accomplished without investing in people. Get to know them, and let them get to know you. Maybe it isn't that hard after all!