From youth workers everywhere, to parents anywhere: We love you and appreciate you, but we sometime want to strangle you (with love, of course! After working for 20 years alongside my wife (she is the expert, I just talk when I am told) in youth ministry, I have seen some things from parents I’d like to see corrected. Here are five of the most common mistakes parents make:
1. Punishing their kids with church.
Yes, you heard it right. Johnny or Maria behaved badly; he can’t go to Camporee or youth group. I believe there are 1,000,001 other ways you can punish your kids. Please find better ways. One day, you will want him/her to go and she won’t want to. Why make that day come sooner? With all the opposition church gets these days, do we really need to add to that?
2. Make the youth worker work extra hard.
Many times the people that work in youth group have kids of their own and are volunteers that want to make a difference. They don’t have much time, just like the rest of us. Some parents make the least effort possible to get their kids involved in youth activities. I had the following happen too many times: Parents that would not pick up or drop off kids. After a long drive after an outing they expected the youth leaders to drop them off at the house. Once, coming back from an activity, one of the teens in the car contacted her parents that said they could not pick her up. After midnight, we had to go and drop them off. We did not mind, but, really?
3. Never get involved, but make a big stink when you don’t like ____________________.
Write letters and complain because of hearsay or comments other parents made. Don’t you just love it when parents that put no work in and have not attended any of the events all of a sudden write nasty emails because of one event or situation that did not go right? Honor your youth workers. They are not perfect, and need correction like all of us. Give them grace. They take care of your kids.
4. Use kids as pawns.
Some church members use kids for political games. Boycotting events and asking leading questions that came from an adult are destructive ways of damaging your teen’s faith. This generation thinks the church is shallow. They see church people not acting very churchy. Fight your own battles. Kids are not your pawns, messengers or political allies.
5. Attending the youth ministry event and forgetting IT’S FOR YOUTH!
Some of these mistakes include taking over the lesson and not letting the teens speak, criticizing the music, dress, and content of the program. It’s not for you! Don’t show up for camp and demand quiet at 10pm. Ask God for patience and a higher level of tolerance. You will need it.
I pray for all youth workers out there today. We honor your service and dedication. Will you join me?