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KurtJohnston

Kurt Johnston has been a youth pastor since 1988 and currently leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted voices in youth ministry, Kurt loves to encourage other youth workers and has written and created over 50 books and resources with that goal in mind. In his free time, Kurt enjoys surfing and riding dirt bikes in the desert with his wife and two children.

Once a month or so I’ll dedicate my portion of this newsletter to the wonderful world of junior high ministry, touching on some of the most important aspects of ministering to this incredible age group. And because nothing is more important in junior high ministry than understanding the importance of parents, I’ll start there!

I often say that junior high ministry is, in many ways, more like children’s ministry than it is high school ministry. And the primary reason is because of the role parents still play in the life of their young teens. Here are a few things about parents of junior highers worth considering as you lead your junior high ministry:

  • Many parents are scared. First-time parents are scared because they are entering un-chartered waters. For the first time, their child is rolling their eyes at them, flexing their “independence muscles,” and questioning decisions mom and dad are making. These new developments catch most newly minted parents of a young teen off guard, and they’re scared. Help them out by assuring them they are normal (they aren’t the worst parents in the world) and that their child is normal, too (she isn’t on the path to becoming the next Amanda Bynes just because she was tardy to class).
  • You probably won’t change their quirks. Some parents are over-protective, some parents ask too many questions, some parents are under-involved, and some parents truly do embarrass their kids (and everybody else) with their comb-over hair style. As much as you might wish to…or even try to…your job really isn’t to change the quirks and parenting styles of the moms and dads in your church. A nudge here and there? Yes. A shove in the “right direction”? Not a good idea.
  • Most of them LOVE being in-the-know. It’s almost impossible to over-communicate to parents of young teens. Because they are still chauffeurs, because they are still the ATM , and because they are still mostly in charge of their kids’ time, they like to know what’s happening in youth group a few days, or even months, in advance. They also like to know what you’re teaching on Wednesday nights, how the first day of the missions trip went, and if their son or daughter made a meaningful decision. And they love to hear you share something positive about their child! Talk to parents in the halls of the church, send out texts and emails reminding them of upcoming activities, or shoot them a follow-up question or two they can discuss with their kid in the car ride home from youth group. Not all parents will take advantage of every effort you make to communicate, but most will latch onto something.

Junior high parents: If they are for you, who can be against you? That’s not exactly how the verse goes, but you get the point.

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