We are only one week and a half or so from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. It is probably one of my favorite times of the year. This particular conference has truly become a place where I gather with friends to talk about ministry. I learn so much, I laugh and I hang out with people who “get me.” In addition I have the honor of teaching and serving on peer panels. This is how I get to meet those with fresh ideas and hear about youth min. all over the world. I thought it might be fun to share what I am teaching this year and why it’s close to my heart.
I mean you see the titles, you read the bios, but do you have any idea why us speakers care about what we do? So this week I would like to break down my sessions for you.
Partnering With A New Generation Of Parents: (Saturday, 9 AM):
I have been in some form of family ministry for over two decades now. (Yes, that means I’m old.) When I started out it was in a rural area. The running joke has always been that it took forever to gather all of my students not because I had so many, but because they lived so far away from each other. This was the first time I was exposed to “Christian” households that hid affairs, problems and issues. Most of my students did have two parents in the home, but that didn’t mean they were happy homes. Fast forward as the Lord plops me in the inner city. I remember in my first week a 10 year old girl asking me my age. When I told her, “24,” her response was a gleeful, “That’s the same age as my Mom!” I honestly, had no idea how to respond, as the reality of two things hit me: 1. How young her Mom was when she had her. 2. She had 2 siblings.
I continued to meet students in these areas who came from single parent households. Dads were nonexistent in their lives. It was not uncommon for there to be multiple children with the same Mom and different fathers. Time marched on and I began to help out with suburban youth ministry. I saw patterns of divorce there. I met kids from rich homes whose parents were workaholics. I talked with churches all over the country and I started hearing the same stories. The traditional “family unit” was melting away. Grandparents and family members were raising grandchildren. Kids were growing up in foster care and group homes. Children were navigating four parents as divorce and remarriage occurred. The situations may have looked different at one time in rural, suburban and inner city areas, however, I have seen in recent years that the same scenarios are playing out everywhere.
Honestly, I pointed fingers at who I thought were “unworthy” to spiritually lead their children. I put myself in the position of Savior and Hero when everyone else let them down. That’s when the Lord convicted me of 3 things:
No matter how much time I spent with any student at some point they would “go home.”
I could not ever be the Savior, there is only one.
God’s heart for the family is for it to be whole.
The Lord pointed me to places in His Word about His thoughts of the family and the way He wants it to be. I saw that as I decided that “some” parents “could” never “get there,” I was actually becoming part of the problem and not the solution.
That’s why I have taken up the cause to see every parent, every family the way the Lord does: redeemed. Will every family get there? Of course not. Is it what Jesus longs for? Absolutely. My responsibility is to keep asking Him to give me His eyes in the situation.
I feel responsible to learn how to partner with this new generation of families, and help them see what Christ does. Will you join me as we learn how to do this together?
Do you have any specific questions on this topic you might like me to answer in my workshop?