It happened like it’s happened many times before. After Mass a parent comes up to me to say, “I have been trying to reach you.” It’s a moment of desperation, panic or emergency in a parent’s life. They need you to assist them. The question is HOW?
As a youth minister families will come to you in time of need. Even if you are not a parent they’ll want to know how to:
- Talk to their teen about sex?
- Get them to focus on their schoolwork?
- Get them more involved in the church?
- Discipline them when they are in trouble?
The list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming to assist a family or parent in need. To get through the messiness and be there for a family make sure you:
“I just don’t think they really care.” It’s a comment I hear from new youth ministers. They’ll share their frustration regarding a parent’s involvement in their ministry. Sadly they are making a crucial mistake assuming parents do not care. It could not be further from the truth.
Parents care about their teens and that can sometimes be a challenge. Parents will present a miriad of issues. You try to understand them but truth is it’s not that easy. To partner with parents you need to know how to engage them. It also means avoiding these 5 crucial mistakes youth ministers sometimes make. They are:
“WHY AM I DOING THIS?” That was the question racing through my mind as I was cleaning out the crab water from the trunk of my car after the middle school crab feast. It had been a fun night; however, nothing had changed. I wondered, “Is it time for this program to die?”
Just like volunteers and students, programs will come and go. You need to determine when they should go before they hurt your ministry. 3 signs a program needs to go is that it starts to:
“No ski trip this year.” They were a little upset. I was too. I like skiing, but the trip was bringing the worst out of people. Not happy with the date, the location or even the video shown on the bus. It was a trip filled with dissatisfied consumers.
There is nothing wrong with a youth ministry ski trip. The problem is when it becomes THE EVENT. Meaning people care more about it than they do Mass, worship and getting to know Jesus. This is one of the signs that you are creating consumers.
At the end of the year review meeting the question was asked, “What should we do about cell phones?” Initially the group was all about banning them, but then the comment was made:
If we aren’t showing them how to use mobile devices, then someone else will.”
They were right. It’s a loaded comment. It puts a lot of responsibility on a youth ministry. You cannot ignore mobile devices because your teens spend so much time on them. If all you are doing is telling them to turn them off, someone else will show them what to do when they are on.