I recently (25th November 2012) gave a seminar at Youth Work the Conference on “Working with Parents”, the session was aimed at equipping youth workers, myself included, to work more effectively with the parents of the young people we work with.  Above is my first slide!  I am going to “post” my way through the seminar, and maybe add extra content along the way – as much a tool for myself as anyone else who might stumble across my blog!

1.  I am a parent!  This is where I began, the big gaping space on the slide above had pictures of my children – just to prove it.  I started the session with an apology.  It is not until I became a parent myself, 7 years ago, that I began to realise just how vital parents, carers, grandparents etc are to the faith formation and ultimately life long discipleship of their own children.

2.  Ministry – vacuum packed.  When I began youth work, and I confess, for many years – the only thing I was bothered about in the life of the church and the Kingdom of God was – well, my own stuff.  What I personally was doing.  Yes, other ministry stuff happened – but it was not as important as what I was doing!  This is where it is at, youth ministry – nothing else matters.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  We must not vacuum pack our “bit” of ministry, we are part of a body, the whole people of God as represented by all, of every age in our church and community.  I only “saw” what I was doing.  Others might do the same, children’s work, family work, flower arrangers, choir, women’s groups, men’s groups etc.

3.  360 Degree view.  We need to develop a perspective on ministry that looks in every direction, not just at what is presented for us to do – but valuing it ALL, seeing it ALL as what God is doing (my bit is just that – a bit).  Think of it like this – we have our point of view, whilst God has an infinite number of viewing points.  He sees it all, how it connects, what connects, why it connects . . . I once worked for someone who was passionate about the children’s work (because he himself has children), he grew to be more interested in youth work (as his children grew up) etc.    It is a short term view.  As a young man with no ties, no responsibilities other than for myself my “one perspective” did not help with my youth work!  Why didn’t everyone join in with the youth work and give it everything? (Because they had responsibilities in life for other things)  Why did some young people only turn up once a fortnight? (Because one week they were living with dad, the next with mum and – with mum living further away, harder to get to a session).  Part of having a 360 degree view of ministry, is not just appreciating that other ministry stuff is going on – but also that every single person has other stuff going on!  They are not just sitting there waiting for my youth group to begin.

Don’t minister in a vacuum and don’t assume lack of commitment or wrong priorities because all the young people can’t make your sessions and some of the potential leaders have other things to do.