Student Ministers are not Responsible

February 2, 2011

I recently read Reinventing Youth Ministry (Again) by Wayne Rice (co-founder of Youth Specialties and one of the true pioneers in church youth ministry today).  It has inspired several thoughts in me about student ministry from which I plan to write (the first of which can be found Here).  This quote and this list combine to make another:

God never gave to youth workers the responsibility for making disciples of other people’s kids . . . God gave that responsibility to the parents, not the local church or the youth ministry (page 24).

Rice also puts forth a pragmatic list for why the above quote is true (page 28-30):

  1. Parents love their kids more than anyone else.
  2. Parents care about their kids more than anyone else.
  3. Parents have more time with their kids than anyone else.
  4. Parents have more authority over their kids than anyone else.

We all know this to be true and student ministers should see it as one of their main jobs to encourage parents in their call to make disciples of their children.  The question is how do we do this?  Here are a few ideas I have had to encourage parents as the true student ministers:

  1. Embrace a discipleship strategy which includes parents in the discussion. I try to put into the hands of parents resources which help them progress the conversations I am having with their student.
  2. Favor parents in volunteer roles within the ministry. If I am in need of volunteers, I seek out parents of students in my group first to fill these roles.
  3. Find areas of the student ministry in which the interests of the students and parents intersect. As you seek to help students find service  roles in the youth ministry, seek students whose parents have expertise in those areas and can help their student fill those roles.  For example, if you need pictures taken, find a parent who has an interest in photography to take their son and daughter out to take them.  This gives them time together, creatively exploring how to serve the church and the ministry.

What are some methods you have used to empower parents as disciple-makers?

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3 Responses to “Student Ministers are not Responsible”

  1. The best thing I have ever done in Youth Ministry was to involve parents. I can never replace them with younger, better looking, more hip college students and get the same results.

  2. Jason Sell said

    So who’s responsible for the parents being discipled? I agree Youth Ministers aren’t fully responsible for discipling students, but we get to be a vast resource for parents and students to use. But perhaps what hasn’t been mentioned yet is the importance for students to be responsible for their own commitment to discipleship as well. I think there may be some hybrid answer of students, then parents, then youth ministers (as leaders of the church), all have some calling to see students be discipled.

    • kevintomeo said

      Yes, discipleship involves all parties (parents, student ministers, Church), but the seeds of Christ are more likely to take root if the parents are watering them. Perhaps, student ministers should spend less time being, as Mehrle wrote, “younger, better looking and hip” and more time being a resource to parents.

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