A question from a comment on a previous post:
"Another thing Andy is parents who feel that is it my job to make their kid better. THis is a little different issue than what you posted about. However, they seem to be someone what related issues. I love these students with all my heart but I cannot change anyone! ALl I can do is present God's Word and encourage them to do what is right. I can be there for them however, I have already found that when I spend a lot of one on one time with someone I am cheating the whole... So I guess my question to you is where is the balance? How do I handle parents who think I have failed and that its because I haven’t spent enough time with them that their child is so messed up. How do I balance trying to help students one on one and yet not cheat other students? I cannot spend one on one time with all of them. We don’t have a large ministry however it’s too big to spend time with everyone. Where is the balance?"
1. It is humanly impossible to make someone better.
We can’t force someone to improve. We can’t force a person to not sin. We are individuals and we are individually responsible to God for our lives. “You can lead a horse to water . . .”
2. No student is messed up because a youth pastor didn’t spend enough time with him or her.
I found out years later that the parents of a young man blamed me for not reaching out to their teenage son while I was their youth pastor. Apparently they didn’t realize the at least six visits to their son at their house was “reaching out”. I quit going to the house when I realized his parents weren’t going to anything about him not coming to youth group, even though they said they were “very” concerned.
The questions should be:
“How much time as parent do you spend with your teen discipling and teaching him about God and His Word?”
Could the child be messed up from their upbringing and his parent’s parenting skills or lack of parental involvement?
Could the child be messed up because he has never trusted Jesus as his Savior so his heart is unrepentant and bent towards sin?
The Bible is very clear that it is the parent’s responsibility to teach their child about God. Perhaps a youth pastor would have more time to invest into the lives of student’s who have lost and un-churched parents if he wasn’t expected to spoon feed another believer’s child?
Best thing a youth pastor could do is point parents in the direction of resources to use with their children.
3. How do I balance?
This is why a youth ministry team is vital, not adults standing around as chaperones but adults involved in the lives of students. Jesus had 12 disciples in whom he invested; even in that 12 there were only a few that he really spent alone time with. Why would a youth pastor be expected to do more than Christ by parents, the church, or an unrealistic lead pastor?
If a youth group has more than a handful of students the need exists to have other adults involved in the lives of students. (Even if there are just a few students there should be another adult always present for legal reasons) Adults who know the student by name, have met their parents, communicate with the student during the week outside of youth group, show up to their ball games, pray with them and for them. Let’s be honest, there are some youth ministers that feel threatened by this team idea because they risk the student’s loving their adult leader more than the youth pastor.
Balance is found by building a team of youth ministers. This takes time and it also takes church members who see the value of team ministry. The lead pastor’s support in building a team is also super helpful to the youth pastor.
Simple answer: You can’t balance a bunch of students, if you try, many will slip through the cracks and you need parental involvement in being the discipler to their teen.