In Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World, Chap and Dee Clark take on a popular cultural myth that, sadly, most of us in youth ministry buy hook, line, and sinker: simply, that teenage youth do not want to spend time with their parents.
We often run into the smokescreen when recruitment for small groups comes around. We think, "I bet Jimmy or Janie’s mom/dad would be a great small group leader."
But, after planting the seed, we soon get the parent’s somewhat dejected response, “Jimmy/Janie doesn’t want me to be their small group leader, sorry.” All too often, we give up with their response.
Not so fast!
The EYM assets -- particularly Asset 44, Fosters Parent-Youth Relationships: offers parent- youth activities that strengthen parent-youth relationships -- parallel Chap’s research, and they give strong grounds for us to engage dejected parents in further conversation. Congregations that are fostering a mature Christian faith are somehow finding ways to navigate around and/or through the smokescreen separating parents and youth in their respective faith journeys.
Take, for example, Rochester Covenant Church in Rochester, Minn. This congregation finds vibrant life in their senior high ministry through the place they meet, their homes. Parents are regularly involved in hosting and welcoming senior high students into their homes for discipleship and fellowship as Christian people.
One might think that this would be a barrier to youth involvement. Quite to the contrary, an authentic expression of faith emerges as parent and youth make their way in their respective faith journeys.
Kenda Creasy Dean’s statement at Luther Seminary’s First Third event in 2010 becomes the goal:
The best way to stimulate spiritual health in a congregation is to invest in the spiritual growth of young people. The best way to stimulate spiritual health in young people is to invest in the spiritual growth of their parents.
Let’s let Jesus move youth ministry beyond the cultural myths.
Rev. Tim Coltvet started cutting his teeth in youth ministry about fifteen years ago. He currently coordinates contextual learning and coaching at Luther Seminary’s Center for Children Youth, and Family Ministry.