I know you are the #1 voice in your teen’s head. And as a youth pastor I will use that to my advantage to guide your teen to making a faith decision he/she will take into adulthood.
(I apologize if you’ve experienced youth pastors who think they are more important than you in your child’s life. We’ve been trained that way. We love teens so much—and believe God has a call on them so much—that we overvalue our importance. Our lack of respectable pay also plays into our need for our identity to be affirmed so we use your teen to do that. I’ve been reformed and I’m working on the others—while still trusting God for respectable pay.)
Once again the good research from Barna Group affirms what I’ve been reforming into. Look at these numbers:
That puts a church youth ministry as one of many tools that 59% of families have used to pass on their faith. One of many. Hopefully one that supports what the parents are already passing on—and challenging to grow even further (see below). I know I definitely needed to stop leading a “dry cleaner youth ministry” where the parents expected to drop their teen off for 90 minutes and pick him/her up after all cleaned. My best tool for growing a teen’s faith is to use the youth ministry as a help for the parents who do pass on their faith because it is has way more stickability to it that way.
Especially the moms.
Holla to the moms!
Moms (and dads), I’m here to be a resource for you. To reach my heart goal of teens loving Jesus, I want to help you.
Thankfully according to this Barna research I am still needed!
Respondents who say someone passed Christianity down to them (40%) are actually more likely to hold a nominal faith, which is not characterized by a personal commitment to faith in Jesus (compared to 30% who had a negative Christian model in their upbringing and 21% of those who had no Christian influence in their upbringing). Their theology also tends to be less characterized by some of the traditional tenets of Christianity. Fewer people in this group view God as the creator and ruler of the universe (79%) or affirm that they will go to heaven because of belief in Jesus’ forgiveness (62%). They more often think of Satan as merely symbolic (54% agree strongly + somewhat), and 64 percent agree at least somewhat that people go to heaven if they are generally good.
My goal is for your teen to not have a nominal faith. My goal is for your teen to have a life-changing faith that will guide him/her throughout life—through the joys and through the valleys. My goal is for your teen to have a big faith who prays for big things as he/she lives a big life in whatever way God calls him/her to live that life.
I think this is how I—and a good youth ministry—can be an asset to you. We can impart our passion, our vitality, our story into what you are passing on to your teen. We can be that second voice that your teen may hear louder but is only affirming what you are already teaching. Please trust us to do that. Especially those of us who support you first. I promise that I do. Because I know I need you to meet my passion of growing teens who make a difference in this world.
(photo credit: Albert Rafael, Pexels.com)