In my last post, I brought up the idea of youth groups. Some of my thoughts regarding what seems to not be working and an alternative solution to our current youth group models. I realized as I started writing that my thoughts could not be contained in one post. So I wanted to wrap up this two part writing and talk about another angle of youth groups. The lack of the parents being involved.
I don’t hold the youth group model solely responsible for the (alarming) lack of parents being involved with their youth, especially at youth groups. It seems like parents are too happy to drop their teens off and peel out of the parking lot faster than you can say pizza. When parents view youth group like a day care for their 15 year old, it takes the responsibility off of the parent and on to the youth pastor. When 40 parents do this, it’s overwhelming for one guy (or even a small team) to address the hearts of teens effectively. When parents view their teen’s spiritual health as something for a pastor to mainly take care of, and their teen doesn’t begin to change to the ways of Christ, the parents often lash out on the pastor, or church as not doing their job. The parent fails to realize that it is their job to raise their teens and not the Church, or anyone else for that matter. This isn’t to say the church should not be helping out in the process. I fully believe that the Church should be a living community coming along side and helping each other out, and this includes pouring in to the upcoming generation. But it is extremely important for parents to see that they have the biggest influence in their teenager’s life. Regardless of how that may appear, it’s the truth.
The other problem I see is that our current youth group model doesn’t really allow for parents to be involved a whole lot. Often youth groups try and appear more relevant to the life of a teenager by accidentally aiding in making the parent the uncool person, or the out of touch adult. This does not help more than it hinders the parent/teenager relationship. I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve been a part of that problem as well. Failing to see that in order to raise teenagers who are more devoted to Christ, it takes parents fully involved, partnering with the Church to close the youth/adult gap. Unlike culture, which thrives in the separation of the two, the Church can thrive by bringing these two groups closer, working together, learning from each other with the older mentoring the younger.
What’s my solution? Start getting the parents involved with their youth. Plan parent/youth retreats, have the youth realize the importance of learning from the generation above them, have the older generation realize how it essential it is to be pouring themselves in to the upcoming generation. Do teens need their time apart from their parents? Absolutely. Teens need a place they can be honest, and sometimes that’s difficult with parents around. But we’ve been so segregated in the Church that we would benefit much to start closing the gap.