Friday, February 5, 2010

Perspectives from the Field: Parental Involvement in Youth Ministry

The truth is that youth ministry can be tough! We who are called and commissioned by God to nurture the young among us know this first hand. It seems we are constantly pressed for time, and challenged to develop plans for ministry (often with limited resources) that help our youth grow up, heal in their broken places, and think deeply about faith. And I could go on and on about our societal context and all the obstacles that make it difficult for us to carefully carry out our work. However, I would like to reflect for a moment on one incredible resource given to us: parents!

You might be saying, “Parents, a resource? How? ”

I am convinced that the most fundamental thing we do in youth ministry is build relationships. I believe this because relationships are the key to our life of faith — relationship with God and neighbor. That is primarily what we have been called to do:
love God and neighbor. And as we go about working with our young people we find that we are not very effective until we have been able to build strong meaningful relationships with our kids and their families.

We are often caught up in the brainstorming, planning, and implementing, but so much of what we do is about getting to know the young souls with whom we have been called to journey. And we must never lose touch of who they are. And who better to keep us in touch with the needs and issues of our youth than their parents? In my work, I often find myself too engaged in the busy work of ministry. Whenever that happens, I know that it is time to pull away and spend time with the people I am serving. Having even a brief conversation with a parent often helps me to refocus myself on what is really important. I am reminded of the great task I have been given and energized to work diligently on it.

I guess, in that sense, parents help me by keeping me accountable. They do this often without knowing. When they ask me questions about our plans, I am reminded of their expectations. Not that I am working to please parents, but their inquiries and even their presence helps me to remain faithful to my work. This I think is a gift from God; for we are encouraged in our faith to hold one another accountable in love.

Moreover, parents are great folks to talk to when making plans for the youth. They offer such a rich reservoir of knowledge about their kids. Just recently, I had a conversation with a parent that confirmed some ideas I had planned for her child. It was a great way to spend time with her, get to know her better, and learn more about her child.

Talk to parents. Even when they complain, or express discontent, there is something for us to learn.

By Arionne Williams
Minister to Youth and Families
Metropolitan AMEZ, Kansas City, MO
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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