Saturday, May 26, 2012

"What's Up?"

It’s sad to see a student who was once excited about their faith drift away and soon fizzle.  In youth ministry we see this all the time.  For youth ministers it can be very frustrating.  Sort of like a coach who can see the incredible potential in  a player but the player is not interested or committed to the team.
Some students don’t have Christian parents so at home there exists no support or encouragement for them to grow in their faith.  Their parents view church/youth group as a good thing but not necessary in their teen’s life.  The “head scratcher” is the parent(s) who wants their teen involved in youth group but the parent isn’t involved in church.  I’m glad they send their teen but maybe I should become bold enough to ask and find out the rationale behind their thinking so I can better understand where they are coming from.
What is even more mind boggling for those of us who serve in youth ministry is the church parents and the Christian parents who don’t encourage their son or daughter to grow in their faith.  The ones who cruise along in some sort of auto pilot while their teen’s life and faith walk is looks too much like a roller coaster.
Recently I have watched a few students who at one point had a passion for their relationship with Jesus Christ.  They would come every week to youth group and also to church on Sunday morning.  They were interested in discussing spiritual things and the Bible.  You could see that they genuinely enjoyed pursuing Christ.  If I were their parents I would have been their biggest cheerleader on the sideline of their life yelling, “Go!  You can do it!  Keep going!”  I would have been thrilled and would have done everything within my power and with the help of the Holy Spirit to keep them plugged into a community of believers.
To dwell on it, quite frankly, causes a couple of reactions within me:

My flesh wants to give the parents a “smack down”

Depressed because there is no parental involvement or encouragement (I’m guessing school teachers go through the same feelings at times) 

So what do we do as youth ministers when we see this happening?

  • Encourage  
  • the student as much as we can
  • Pray 
  • for the student and the student’s parents
  • (this may be where getting older comes into play) Be bold enough to ask the church/Christian parents, “What’s up? and Don’t give me excuses or “smoke screens”.  (of course season this with caring and grace)
  • Realize 
  • that we can only do so much as youth ministers.  Students have to own their faith and take responsibility and parents are accountable to God. (that takes some of the pressure off doesn’t it?)
  • Pray
  • some more
Parents, what can you do? 
  • Cheer.  
  •  Be your son or daughter’s biggest cheerleader.
  • Talk.  
  • Strike up conversations about God and the Bible.  When your son or daughter is passionate about their faith they will want to discuss it with you and not look at you like you are some sort of freaky creature from some old episode of the original Star Trek.
  • Commit.  
  • Commit to keeping your family plugged into a local body of believers.  Commit to bringing your teen to their youth group.  Commit to put eternal matters above earthly stuff.  An indicator that life is upside down in your home is when your teen never misses a practice or game but rarely makes it to church or youth group. Commit to living out Deuteronomy 6.
  • Grow.  
  • Make sure you are setting the example with a growing faith.
  • Pray.  
  • Pray with and for your son or daughter.
  • Tell.  
  • Tell your teen how proud you are of their passion to grow in their faith.

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