Because Parents Bring It
4 Compelling Reasons Parents Should Consider Volunteering in Youth Ministry
I’m going on record: parents have been some of my greatest youth ministry leaders.
Yes, moms and dads, or “old people,” as my 20-somethings would say. They are my go-to volunteers. I love recruiting parents.
I guess some could call me biased. After all, I’m a parent! I have two children in our church’s youth ministry. But honestly, I believe one of the biggest mistakes I made as a young 20-something youth pastor was to use only college-age and young adult leaders. I had the mentality like many youth ministry models that still exist, that only young, cool people can help in the youth ministry, and parents should just drop their kids off at the door.
And here’s why:
4 Qualities That Make Parents Great Prospects to Serve in Youth Ministry
#4: Life Experience
You, as a parent, bring life experience that a single college kid hasn’t had. You not only bring to the ministry memories and circumstances from your own personal adolescent years, but also the years of mature reflection about those experiences.
Your life experience is a bonus to a youth ministry because you come pre-packaged with training… official training through education, career, or other formal settings; unofficial training through just living life as a parent. While there is still a need to go through the church’s and youth ministry’s process to understand their vision, you may already know much more than you give yourself credit.
You are already leading and making decisions in your work and home life. You are already a small group leader, just in your home around the dinner table. You are already chaperoning school and extra-curricular activities. In the world we live in, more than likely, you are already background checked and know the connected guidelines.
Plus, you know what it’s like to bring a child into this world, and that gives you something else that youth ministry leadership needs desperately…
I remember a youth leader who used to pack 23 kids in a 15-passenger van… so incredibly dangerous!
“I have them double belt,” he used to argue.
But then he had kids of his own, and everything changed. Now he knew that he was driving someone’s precious “baby” in his van, and that was a huge responsibility.
Parents see the safety concerns and simple logistics of something as a parent. Your loving, graceful opinion can add wisdom and discernment to any ministry, but especially one where young people are involved.
Your life experience parenting also brings with it an understanding of what students may need. You might be able to better guide them through things they are going through, because you have guided your own children though something similar.
But all these years of parenting give you something else…
Every youth ministry, no matter how big or small the church, is always seeking resources. Whether it is the best place to buy, rent, or borrow something for the next big event or the best way to feed a huge group. You as a parent bring with you a relationship database. You might have lived in the area for a while and know the best way/place to get those things. Your personal, family and even work connections that you bring can be a wealth of resources that your youth ministry needs.
But you also can become an advocate. You are friends with other parents, both in the church and in the community. Your involvement in the youth ministry can bring much needed communication and defense to a youth ministry and its key leader. You know, as a parent, parents want to know information and feel confident in who is involved in their child’s life. You can become a champion of the ministry and of its leader to other parents.
Your relationship and your involvement can bring credit and confidence to the ministry. Without even having to try your relationships with other parents and then your willingness to lead in the ministry put your parental seal of approval on the ministry and leadership.
And being a parent gives you something else, something powerful…
Parents carry an inherent respect.
QUESTION: If a kid is lost in Disneyland, who are they taught to seek for help?
ANSWER: A mom with kids.
Why? Because moms are even more trustworthy and respected than park employees.
You may not feel like it all the time, in your home, with your kids, but you as a parent are respected and trusted. You use your “dad-voice” or give the “mom-look,” and you get immediate respect. It can also work, as a leader in the youth ministry. When you lead as a parent in the ministry, you bring some immediate respect, even before you earn it. You are seen as a trusted adult authority because you are a parent.
This is not a bad thig, it does not diminish the opportunities for students to connect with you or share with you. If anything, it may add to the opportunities as another respected adult in student’s lives.
While ministry to ministry and leader to leader, each church and youth ministry is different. Each has unique needs, vision and direction. Take some time, to pray and consider about talking with your own child, if they are in the ministry, about your involvement. If your own child is comfortable with it, approach the leader of the ministry and ask how you can help, lead or connect in the youth ministry. You might just be surprised at how God can use you!
DAN ISTVANIK is a Middle Years pastor in Lancaster, PA. He is a speaker, ministry coach and writer who has been working in youth ministry for over 20 years. Dan shares daily middle year ministry specific resources and hints on his site “The Middle Years” at MiddleYearsMinistry.com