Supporting the Ministry of the Family………………Wes Black

“How can I expect parents to listen to me? I’m a lot younger than they are and I don’t have any teenage kids of my own?”

This is one of the most common questions from younger youth leaders when the subject of family ministry comes up. Faced with a barrage of needs in ministry with youth, having to deal with parents often gets a lot less attention than “drugs, sex, and rock-and-roll.” It’s often easier to just ignore it and hope that it goes away. Who wants to deal with those grumpy, old middle age parents of teenagers, anyway?

One of the encouraging findings from the Exemplary Youth Ministry study is the contribution that youth ministry makes to strengthening families and the influence of parents on their teenagers. The most effective youth ministers also hold strong beliefs in the value of helping parents and youth have better home relationships, providing opportunities for parents and teens to interact with one another, helping parents recognize better methods of discipline, and strengthening family relationships in general.

These effective youth ministries in the EYM study also held to the values of equipping parents to teach their teens high moral values, discussing adolescent issues with the parents, and fostering a network of care and support for youth and their families.

Is it any surprise that the youth ministries doing the best job of guiding teenagers to have stronger faith are the ones in which close family relationships are nurtured and strengthened?

Wes Black is professor of student ministry and associate dean for the PhD Program in the School of Church and Family Ministry, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX, and a member of the original EYM leadership team.

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