Blog by Jeff Dunn-Rankin
All the angels in heaven in rejoice whenever there’s a soul saved, Jesus tells us (Luke 15:7). We celebrate right along with them.
But if the new Christian comes from an unchurched home, the kids’ parents could just be freaking out.
“You’re a what!?”
If we youth workers think about the family’s reaction at all, we imagine mom and dad will be grateful that we’ve brought joy and hope to their child and their family. But I wonder how often our kids go home to a mom or dad who feels more threatened than excited.
Nearly half of all non-believing dads feel okay about their kid getting some moral training at church, but the more the kids spend their time, their talent—and heaven forbid their money—on church activities, the more irritated an unchurched parent is likely to get.
I think non-believing parents can start to feel like they are forced to compete with an invisible role model who died 2,000 years ago—or worse yet, a Jesus freak down at the church who is feeding their child myths and legends.
We youth workers see the changes as all positive, but we need to understand that to many parents, the changes might be threatening, scary and irritating.
“A father wants to be admired by his children and to be their primary male role model,” Lee Strobel writes in Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch. His wife became a Christian a painful two years before he did. “I didn’t want them to think I was a miserable wretch or hell-bound reprobate…I didn’t want them seeing their youth pastor as their role model instead of me. I didn’t want to become their pet evangelism project.”
After the Lee and his wife Leslie paint this troubling picture of what home life can be like for a new Christian, they spend the rest of the book offering clear and compelling hope.
Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch was written about marriage, but it also speaks to the loneliness and guilt that can plague a new Christian teenager who comes from an unchurched family.
To see some videos that give you a taste of the book, check out www.LeeStrobel.com. Just search the site for the word “mismatch.”
Their tips and insights should impact the way we follow up with students—and their families—after a kid makes a decision to follow Christ. It might even impact how we build trust with families even before a student takes that big step.
Vice President of Consulting
Jeff has been director of Youth at Christ United Methodist Church in Venice, FL, since 1998, after more than a decade of volunteering, including Young Life & 1st Presbyterian Church, Nashville, TN. Previously, Jeff was managing editor of the Charlotte Sun, the country’s fastest growing newspaper in the 1990s, nearly doubling in circulation. Jeff is a graduate of Sewanee and has his MBA from Vanderbilt University.
In 2011, Jeff wrote two books, Before You Hire a Youth Pastor and The Indispensable Youth Pastor (Group Publishing), both co-authored with YMA President & Founder, Mark DeVries. Jeff lives in Venice, Florida, with his wife Mary Lou, and two children, Matthew and Katie.
Jeff Dunn-Rankin – Vice President of Consulting
Youth Ministry Architects / Children’s Ministry Architects
Building Sustainable Ministries……One Church at a Time
Phone/Fax (877) 462-5718 Twitter: @ymarchitects