As youth workers, we generally recognize that parents have the greatest influence on teenagers. Sometimes that’s simply a factor of time. We spend an hour or two with kids every other week (depending on homework and sports practice), while most moms and dads are with them nearly every day. But it’s also a factor of heart. Although teenagers make an inordinate effort to convince parents they’re unworthy and unwanted, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, most teenagers desperately want their parents to notice them, help them, and love them—in every way.
So when you consider the best methods for planting seeds of biblical truth in young people, look toward the soft, tilled soil of parents. Wait…what’s that? Ah yes, sometimes parents’ spiritual “soil” looks pretty parched. It’s dry, cracked, and still mad that you ended last fall’s lock-in 40 minutes late. If you head toward that soil with a hoe or garden tiller, the end will probably break off in the rocky, solid dirt.
Even if you haven’t made a major ministry misstep that diminishes parents’ trust in you, we’re talking about their kids. It’s natural for parents to be skeptical of us, especially when we try to address their own spiritual development. That’s why our parent meetings, Bible studies, and support groups sometimes receive less-than-enthusiastic responses. And that’s where most of us give up.
Yet God warned us in Genesis that working the ground would be difficult. For the new year ahead, consider these tips to help you nurture more Bible-savvy parents:
- Recognize that biblical truth might be the last thing most parents are considering when raising teenagers. They’re thinking about grades and college and dating and the future, as well as their own challenges and outside obligations. So start by toning down your frustration. Remember that parents have a lot to juggle.
- Pick a theme verse for the year and place it on everything that goes home with kids. Put it in youth ministry newsletters. Use it as your email salutation. Text it out periodically. If parents don’t become aware of any other Scripture verse, they’ll know that one.
- Send a weekly email recap of each teaching topic. Include all the Bible passages you covered, plus a brief summary of the lesson’s content and point.
- Use an app such as Word Swag or an in-app process in something such as YouVersion to create graphics of meaningful Bible verses. Share them prolifically on social media—especially Facebook, if you want to capture parents’ attention.
- Add a Bible verse to the back of your business card. Each time you share the card with parents, they’ll get more than just your contact information.
- Spray paint Scripture on the side of the church bus. (Okay, maybe not.)
Regular watering makes soil much easier to plant. After consistent irrigation, you may be able to plant even deeper; for example, the idea of a parent Bible study might eventually be well-received rather than rejected.
Youth ministers must go beyond downloading biblical truths to young people. Partnering with parents to create scripturally aware teenagers begins with growing scripturally savvy parents. Even by taking small steps, you’ll make a huge impact. So build some of them into your routine for 2017.