I had a funny thought recently, that for all this talk we always hear of how Youth Ministry is where innovation happens in churches, and the way your Youth Ministry looks is how your church will look in 10 years, Youth Ministry is surprisingly slow when it comes to great ideas.
Sure, we can come up with good ideas for an event or a good idea for a youth group name, we can even come up with good ideas for structuring a worship service. But we haven’t had many GREAT ideas, the kind that completely revolutionize the way students get discipled, the kind that make long last effects on our ministries and churches, or the kind that move Youth Ministry from playing Defense to offense.
So my funny thought was the realization that it took “Professional” Youth Ministry nearly 60 years (depending on when you consider “Professional” Youth Ministry to have started) to understand that Parents are not the enemy, and we can’t treat them like they are. And many are still going through the process of this paradigm shift.
I remember when I first started looking into Family Ministry, I had a discussion with someone that essentially was “What a great point, if you can really get students in the church, their families will come to church, and the church attendance will grow.” I also remember that for myself, my first ideas of ministry to Parents meant simply having parent meetings and making a flashy parent newsletter.
So when I first got a copy of Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide…
, my head kind of blew up. I went through that book on a tear, realizing more and more that I was doing Youth Ministry all wrong, and my ideas of Partnering with Parents were way off.
I don’t know where you stand on Family Ministry, or what you think it is. But I have become convinced that Youth Ministry does nothing if it doesnt do it in Partnership with the family. I can have events with hundreds of kids in attendance, but if I’m not partnering with their parents to minister to them, I’m not making as much of a lasting impression as I could be doing.
I’ve gone through a Paradigm shift, and I believe many other Youth Pastors have as well. Family Ministry is not simply a buzzword thrown around in Church Circles as the next big idea for Church Growth. Family Ministry is a part of the conversation that we all need to be taking part of about how to best ministry to the students we have been blessed to minister to.
If that’s a conversation you want to be a part of, then you need to be at the Orange Conference this April. A lot of people often say “I don’t use Orange Curriculum, I don’t think I’d get anything out of it,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You can buy Orange Products at the Conference, sure, but this is not a sales pitch for their stuff. The Orange Conference is all about learning how to partner with parents, and improve our strategies for ministry, both to Families and students specifically. You may feel inclined to go with their curriculum as part of your strategy, but I’ve gone the last two years and never purchased their curriculum, and come to view this conference as the best in the Ministry world.
I’ll be in Atlanta this April, a few of our contributors will be, too. Are you going?
Ben Read is the Pastor of Students at Trinity Evangelical Church in North Reading, MA, just outside of the great city of Boston. He met his wife, Sarah, while they both were at Liberty University where he was a member of the National Champion Debate Team while studying Biblical Studies and Youth Ministry. They welcomed a son they lovingly refer to as BEAR this past November, who has stolen all of the attention away from their Black Lab, Max.