Outsourcing, Part 3

The catalyst for Part 1.

Part 2 was yesterday.

As I’ve reflected on the question, “Why Parents Outsource Their Teen’s Spiritual Formation” over the past few days, I believe that the answer is ultimately about a lack of partnership between parents and the church (or youth ministry/youth minister).  I believe that BOTH side have forgotten their roles in this partnership.  The definition of “partner” looks like this:

partner |ˈpärtnər|
1 a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, esp. in a business or company with shared risks and profits.

This is all about relationship, community and the “a” word…accountability.

Let’s talk about parents (and remember that I am one, so this list is about me).

  • Parents fail in this partnership when they simply drop their kids off for the night.
  • Parents fail in this partnership when they don’t respond to emails asking for feedback.
  • Parents fail in this partnership when they invest nothing in the ministry, when they simply consume.
  • Parents fail in this partnership when they don’t take advantage of opportunities to talk about faith at home.

Now, let’s talk about youth ministers (remember, I am one, so this list is about me), churches and youth ministry.

  • Youth ministers fail in this partnership when we don’t take the time to say “hello” to the parents.
  • Youth ministers fail in this partnership when we do not deliver information (trip details, etc) as promised or in a timely manner.
  • Youth ministers fail in this partnership when we do not take into account family schedules, work schedules, etc.
  • Youth ministers fail in this partnership when we think that we care about kids more than their parents do.
  • Youth ministries fail in this partnership when we think that we can replace the parent.
  • Churches fail in this partnership when we do not communicate that the number one role of a parent is that of passing on the faith to their children.
  • Churches fail in this partnership when we do not equip or support families in this effort.  We can (and do) point the finger at parents and families all that we want, but if we are not equipping them for this effort, they cannot.

Partnership comes when we realize that we are all in this together.  Partnership happens when we come along side one another, not in judgment, or competition, but in a relationship that is encouraging and honest in what we need from the other partner.  Partnership comes when we have an expectancy of one another that we are seeking the same goal.

For those of you that partner with parents, what does that look like?



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5 responses to “Outsourcing, Part 3

  1. It looks like relationship for parents’ sakes, not just students’ sakes. Stellar series, John!

  2. So what about if our “goals” don’t match? And the parents want something different out of the church/ministry than the minister(s) feel is most important.

    • Jess-

      Since I’m a “cup half-empty” kind of guy…

      Each of the church environments in which I’ve served has been different.

      Step one is deciding what the purpose of “your” youth ministry is and how it aligns (it should fit perfectly) with that of your whole church. Step two is having people on your team that demonstrate that they’re all in on the mission of the church and ministry.
      Step three is having those people be your guinea pigs and lead their families in the way you’re leading them.

      It’s all that you can do. You will ALWAYS have people, families and even church leaders, who do not believe in the biblical example of intergenerational and family discipleship. That said, your church leaders hired you to do ministry. They probably told you all sorts of things about the excitement they felt and all the leeway you’d have. Truth is, a church will only agree with the the change it wants. Truth is, there are those in church leadership who’d rather not irritate people.

      All that you can really do is lead from God’s calling and anticipate resistance. You’ll need to decide how much you want to fight it. You’ll need to decide how invested you really are. And in the end, you’ll need to decide if you want to be biblical in what you’re doing.

      No doubt, some of those who oppose your methods might read this and object to the harshness in which I speak. And, people that oppose my methods will read it and do the same.

      But here’s a real truth. If those same people think for one second that anyone but them will be held accountable for not living out the biblical mandate of teaching their kids the faith, they are wrong. I’m not talking about kids who hear and wander. I’m talking about the families that would rather people like you and I do the work because it’s just “too difficult” for them to do so. Jess, you and I will be held to strict account for the gospel that we teach to people, for our love, blah, blah blah. Part of that truth is proclaiming what the Bible says about discipleship within the family.

      I re-read this post by Adam McLane from a few years back. It’s worth a read: If You Don’t Want to Play With the Big Boys…

      • Good article/blog thingy. Definitely makes me want to stop and think about if I am truly leading or if I am just whining about what I feel like I am not being allowed to do. I want to stop whining. And I want to be a part of the WIN. Thanks, John!

      • It’s not a whine at all. It’s the prophetic heart within you that is calling people to return to the gospel.

        Just remember…many of the religious people, the priests, scribes, leaders…they hated the prophets. That truth is what keeps me going.

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