Tweens and teens are interesting as they transform from children into adults and begin to lead our church. During this process, it is important to have a variety of people to help with the church’s youth ministry, including some people that are outside of the “they care about me because they have to” world. These can be young adults that still remember what it means to be a youth, or grandparents that bring a lifetime of experience and wisdom. At the same time, parental involvement reinforces the idea that Christianity doesn’t end when you leave the walls of the church.
Parents provide insights about what’s going on in the lives of their youth. They also can be a great sounding board for other youth. On a trip, a homesick kid can benefit from a parent even if it’s not his/her own. A youth going through a rough time at school might benefit from the experience of another parent that has been through something similar. So, it is helpful to partner parent sponsors with kids other than their own. Youth might be more willing to ask questions if Mom is not right there.
However, one of the most important reasons to have Parents as Youth Sponsors is to recognize and use their individual talents and gifts. Just as each of the youth have special ways to help the ministry of the church, so do their parents. Whether it’s driving a van, leading a discussion, preparing a meal, using a hammer or paint brush, or just hanging out with youth, each has a way to help.
Some of the parents in my Youth Group have gone on enough of our trips that I can send groups with them while I take care of other elements of our youth ministry. Plus, I can try out an idea by bouncing it around with a parent or two to see how they think the youth would react. I also found some parents have the ability to do some things better than I can. Whether it is a special talent or enthusiasm because they are undertaking something new, I’m lucky enough to be able to help point their energy in a direction that can glorify God.
My latest adventure is 2nd Generation youth -- going through experiences with a youth that I previously experienced with their parent a dozen years earlier.
by Mark Whitaker
Youth & Young Adult Director and Communications Coordinator
Avondale United Methodist Church in Kansas City MO (North of the River)
Advisory Board for youTheology / Marketing Coordinator
Loving God, Loving Neighbor