If you are a Youth Pastor you get it. You have seen it too many times. You invest in a kid spiritually only to have the Jesus fire quenched by the most powerful influencers in their lives: their parents. Leading youth spiritually means equipping and encouraging parents to take the lead as primary faith influences according to God’s original plan for spiritual formation in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. One question. How does your youth ministry focus in that direction?
We are in a new day. Studies like “Reveal” from Willow Creek as well as many student ministry influencers across the country like Steve Wright in Raleigh, North Carolina, Richard Ross from SWBTS, and Bubba Thurman of Lakepointe Point Church in Rockwall, and a host of others are seeing student ministry in a biblical light. They and you get the findings of Christian Smith’s work, “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.” The Church today has the greatest youth ministry programs of all times; if you measure numbers, resources, and creative programing. Sadly we are developing a generation of Christ-followers who compartmentalize their faith and in fact abandon it in the young adult years. What is the missing link?
I am simple minded. If spiritual formation is a strategy of God Himself, we should do it His way. The Bible presents a plan for discipleship that partners the family with the New Testament church. Follow this thread. Dt. 6:4-9, Psalm 78, Proverbs, Mt. 22:36-40, Mt. 28:18-20, Eph. 4:11-12, Eph.6:4 just to name the majors. The picture you get from the Scripture is a Great Commission church that encourages, equips, and empowers family as the important vehicle for spiritual formation.
We need to wrestle with a strategic question in student ministry How do we link youth ministry and the family to equip the next generation of Christ-followers? What does that look like in your context, culture, and community? I have been wrestling with this question specific to my context for over 5 years. We have made some significant progress! Take a look at our strategy:
I hope the strategy becomes catalytic in your mind. How can you link church and family to equip the youth of your church? Wrestle with it. Partner with other age group ministries in your church. Family is the most important experience of any persons life. How do you influence that environment? I think family is the setting of a coming Spiritual Awakening in America. Our struggle is a Kingdom initiative. Let’s do this thing together!