ever since attending the simply youth ministry conference this past march, specifically a session with jim burns from homeword, i have been trying to build a stronger partnership between our student ministry and the parents of our teens. there’ll probably be more posts rolling out soon related to this topic, but here’s one super easy thing we’re trying now to strengthen this partnership.
i’ve always tried to let our parents in on what we’re generally teaching (the series name and description, and the topics addressed each week). but my sense has been that the info getting to them before the actual talk wasn’t specific enough to actually empower them to do anything with it. i know not every parent asks their kid what they learned at youth group, but some do. what if we made it a point to give them a specific direction in which to aim their questions, and would that in itself begin to build trust?
though i know in a general sense what topics and scriptures i’ll be teaching weeks and months in advance, it’s usually not until a couple days before the talk that i have the content flow and specific outline points finalized.
here’s what we’re trying. i usually preach on sundays. so on friday right after i finalize the message and send the notes to print, i type up a quick email to our parents with specific info on this weekend’s message. here’s the one that just went out this past week:
Jealousy is a powerful force, and if you’re human, you’ve experienced its pull from time to time. This Sunday we’re going to be challenging our JH and HS students to recognize it’s destructive potential and offer a solution when they feel it creeping near their soul. We’ll begin the message by talking about that awkward moment when you see a 3rd grader strutting around with a better phone than your own (As a 20-something I’ve felt this before!), and we’ll acknowledge the many students that either don’t have one yet or lost some of its privileges lately. We’ll spend most of our time looking at the story of Cain & Abel in Genesis 4, and how Cain’s example of unresolved jealousy took more away from him than than just his brother. We’ll touch on the fact that when jealousy leads us to anger, it leaves us in fear, in isolation, and with lots of regret. Some supporting Scriptures we’ll reference will be 1 Corinthians 3:3 and Galatians 5:19-20. We then plan to wrap up the message by offering the teens a solution: to make it a habit of celebrating other people’s success. Whether it’s a teammate who excels on the baseball field, a classmate who scores higher on her SAT’s, or a friend with seemingly more freedom – celebration crowds out jealousy. When we can no longer celebrate and get excited about the great things in someone else’s life, we’ve probably been breathing in a whiff of jealousy’s fumes.
Please ask your son/daughter about the message and let us know what we can do to help you take it deeper with them.
I’m not sure if we’ll do it forever, but we’re trying it now. here’s some encouraging feedback we received from a couple parents after last week’s email went out:
“Hi Pastor Cory – your note about this upcoming Sunday was what we were envisioning as a great parent’s tool… I think your detailed agenda for Sunday will be a great help in opening up dialogue after the service – and maybe even before as we parents can do some ‘prepping’ to get the soil ready for you to plant!”
“Hi Pastor Cory, Based on the email you sent out below, I have challenged our whole family to read all of those scriptures this week, and then at the end of the week we are going to have our own small group to discuss our thoughts and feelings about what is being said. Thanks for sharing what the messages are on…”
what other ideas are out there to better position our weekly teaching for more parent/student interaction and growth?