Sunday, March 04, 2007

Parents and Youth Ministry

I had the privilege of leading a seminar yesterday about involving parents in youth ministry. The seminar involved mostly volunteer youth workers so the goal was to help them work with the parents of the teens they are serving.

My intention was to explore the tension that often exists between parents and youth workers. Parents will always be the most significant influence on teens good or bad, but youth workers have an important role to play in shepherding and loving students to connect with Christ.

I find a simple case study really struck a chord to explore the tension so I pose it to all of you to see your response.

You are a youth worker and a student you are working with is a good hearted kid who basically sits on the fence of following Christ. Sometimes he/she is really interested other days not so much. One day he/she confesses that they smoked marijuana one time. What do you do in relation to working with their parent(s)? Do you call the parents and tell them what happened, or do you do nothing at all? How do you respond and why?


Anonymous said...

The only thing that really works here for me is you
have to find a way as the youth leader to convince the
student that there are good reasons for him/her to be
honest about what they did with their parents.
If there is a "right" answer I would like to know it.

- a mom

mjonthemove said...

I pretty much agree with anonymous mom. But I would also strive to find the heart of the issue. Why were they smoking marijuana? What were they getting by doing it? Teaching that reflective skill in personal faith is critical at that age. Teach them how to go to God with questionable actions or thoughts. It's a great skill. But to answer the question. The goal would be to get the child to explain the situation and be forthcoming and honest with the parent. By the way, anonymity is weak.

Joe said...

What if the student refuses to talk with their parents?

I agree the heart of the matter is critical. If this was a one time shot and the student feels horrible most likely they would be willing to talk with their parents.

However, if the issue is potentially larger than a one time occurance and the student refuses to talk with their parents - then what?

What is the responsibility to the family at this point and not just the relationship I have with the student.

mjonthemove said...

I still feel that the most important issue would be to get at the heart of the issue. Try to find out why they are so into this. Is it comprising their identity? Is it to fit in? Is it experimentation? As their pastor, I feel it is your job to be their spiritual leader. You are there to guide them in their faith; to ask and answer hard questions about life, philosophy and why we are here. If the child likes their lifestyle, they should like it enough to tell their parents. I would encourage the child to be responsible for the decisions that they are making by telling the parents. If they refused, you could always go for the, "This is a serious concern, and I want your parents to find out about this from you, and not from me. So, please tell them because I care to much to allow nothing to be said."