Helping your teenagers share their faith is like teaching them to fly a plane. Although it doesn't take nearly as much training to get started, they do need to master the basics from "take off to touchdown." As their primary instructor during this process you need to cover at least four areas for them to have a successful flight.
"...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
1. Pray! Pray! Pray!
Dear Parents of Teenagers,
Thanks for all you do to invest in the life of your teenager(s). You probably feel like an uber driver (ready to pick them up/drop them off when they call), coach (helping them perfect their sport), tutor (working with them on homework), guidance counsellor (preparing them for the future) and, sometimes, a jockey (pushing them to cross the finish line...without a whip of course!)...all wrapped up in one!
That's why, with all the insane busyness of parenting a teen, it's easy to let youth group attendance slide off the grid. It's tempting to think, "My kid's just too busy for a night of hanging out with other teenagers, playing some goofy games and hearing another Bible lesson."
"Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[ so that you will have the right response for everyone." Colossians 4:5,6
Yesterday as I welcomed scores of youth leaders into a church outside of a Chicago for a full day of ministry training I happened to be holding a Venti-sized red cup full of delicious Starbucks coffee. One youth leader looked at it with feigned disgust and said, "Nice Satan sipper."
I'll never forget when Debbie came into the church office where I used to pastor and asked me if there was any way she could volunteer. Knowing that she had a marketing background I told her, "The church is doing fine but I need your help with this youth ministry thing I'm trying to get off the ground."
Debbie volunteered for two years and then came on staff with Dare 2 Share. She was recently promoted to President and has been doing an outstanding job alligning our ministry for growth. Here's a little video one of our team members put together to celebrate 20 years at Dare 2 Share...
1. Give kids the choice between Angel food cake and Deviled eggs to see where they are at spiritually.
2. Pass out Tootsie rolls and fake $20 bills (the ones that are really gospel tracts in disguise.) The Tootsie rolls are fine but when kids realize that the $20 bill is fake they will teepee your house with real toilet paper.
I'll never forget when long time youth pastor and discipleship guru, Matt Reagan, uttered a bold statement that made my heart leap. Last April he told a room full of North American youth ministry leaders, "Youth Ministry needs it's swagger back!"
Of course he didn't mean "swagger" in a prideful "look at me" type of way but in a holy confidence "God has called us to this" type of way.
Matt went on to explain that he was tired of youth ministry being underestimated, downplayed and, in some circles, even scorned. He shared with this room of key leaders how important an effective, Gospel advancing, disciple multiplying youth ministry is to the lifeblood of a thriving church.
By the way his church is Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
For the last several years I've said that if a church spends more time doing announcements than engaging in intercessory prayer during a Sunday morning worship service then something is broken. Sadly, that means something is definitely broken in most churches when it comes to prayer.
Athough this statement may send waves of guilt into the souls of many pastors it doesn't offer a practical solution to the problem. And I want to offer solutions and not just be a Monday morning quarterback regarding the Sunday morning services.