Many people think that youth groups are a waste of time, but I don’t. I think that they are some of the greatest things God uses to advance his kingdom and to stir up a desire to serve the Lord like nowhere else. As parents, we have a huge responsibility to be thankful for these people. After all, God has given them a desire to influence our children to love Christ and to value Him above all else.
A while back, I wrote an article on truths we’re keeping from our youth groups. While the response was positive, some people wrote back desiring an article directed towards parents.
Parenting is one of the most difficult things God has tasked us with in this life, but it can also be one of the most fulfilling. Parents desire much for their kids: happiness, success, friendship, marriage, and many children. Perhaps the greatest struggle parents have is to balance physical needs and spiritual needs. We all want our kids to be saved, but few want their children to be missionaries, or even worse, martyrs.
The youth leaders also have a difficult responsibility; they want to influence students while also respecting parents and their leadership. Sometimes he or she must tell the children to do things or think things that are different than what their parents believe, and this causes great stress and difficulty for the leaders. Here are some things that most youth leaders wished parents knew and believed before ever dropping their children off for youth group.
- Youth Group is not a substitute for your responsibility
Many parents are tempted to see youth pastors as a profession. They drop the kids off to the doctor and expect them to take care of their kids’ health. They drop them off to the dentist and expect them to take care of their teeth. They drop them off at school and expect the teachers to do all the teaching. In all three of those areas, the parent isn’t involved. In fact, most parents realize that any input from them is probably only going to do damage. Many parents treat their kids’ spiritual life this way as well. And while there are people gifted by God who know scripture well and can have great influence on their kids spiritual life, parents cannot be tempted to see youth group as THE place where their kids grow spiritually. It is only one place where that happens. It may be the most impactful place where it happens, but it cannot be the only place.
If only one hour of 168 hours a week is spent learning about God, then we are training our kids to believe that God only matters one hour out of the week, when He should be the center of every single second of the day. As parents, we must own up to the fact that God has given us great responsibility over our kid’s spiritual maturity, and that youth group is just a cherry on a Sunday.
- Church is the weekly priority
One way we can teach our kids that we value their spiritual life more than any temporary success they can experience in this life is by prioritizing church. Even though it isn’t a substitute for parental responsibility in their children’s spiritual life, it is the weekly priority. We are communicating where our heart is when we value sports above attending church. We are teaching them something when watching football, or allowing tiredness to come between us and the incredible blessing of fellowship with the body of Christ. There is nothing more important in our week than to gather with our eternal brothers and sisters. Sports, money, or rest should never some between us and God. Instead, we should fight–and fight hard–for the opportunity to meet with the church.
- Your attitude towards church influences your kid’s attitude
Just making church the priority is not enough. We must have the right attitude when coming to church. If going to church is like pulling teeth, then we will be communicating a great deal to our kids. They will hate it more than us.