As a student pastor or children’s pastor, your time is often focused on the students or kids in your ministry. But how often are you investing in the parents and families? In this video, managing editor for The Gospel Project, Brian Dembowczyk, explains four metrics by which you can evaluate and adapt your ministry to be better suited to encourage and empower the parents and families involved.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
I began my ministry career of about 17 years in the late 1990’s as a student pastor. And one of the things that happened pretty quickly in my student ministry days was this. I was spending so much time investing in the students, teaching them on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, retreats and camps, and just hanging out with them and pouring into them, but it became quickly apparent that I was not on the same page as the parents or actually the parents were not on the same page as I was. I would find myself teaching something only to hear the parents going against what I was teaching, giving a different perspective, and sometimes in direct opposition.
I just remember getting so frustrated with my parents. I remember thinking, “Man, why are they making my ministry so much more difficult? If they only would do what I want them to do, then everything would go much better.”
It was at that time that God took His divine two-by-four and beat me over the head with it. Because He said, “Brian, you’re giving them grief, but what have you done to equip them? What have you done to empower them for ministry? You’ve done nothing. You’ve spent all of your time, all of your effort pouring into the students. You’ve not poured into the adults, the parents, one bit.”
And it was at that time I began understanding that really student ministry was not just about students, but it was about families and that I had failed to invest in families, to help them live out Deuteronomy 6 in their context.
So if you are a student pastor or a kids pastor it’s the same thing. Today we have to understand that ministry is not just about what happens on campus. It’s also about what happens in the home. And so we seek to be gospel-centered on campuses, and that’s great. That’s important of course. But if we’re truly to be gospel-centered that means we have to connect with what is happening in the home. We’ve got to invest in the family.
Let me give you kind of four big ideas for how you can kind of safeguard your ministry to make sure that you are straddling this well, that you are balancing well what you’re doing on campus being gospel-centered, but also what you are doing to equip the homes to be gospel-centered.
1. EVENTS FOR PARENTS
And the first is this: Look at your calendar of events. What do your events look like? Now, if you are like most people in ministry, your events are heavily biased or exclusively on kids or students, depending on your ministry context. And again, that’s great. We need to be doing events for them. But if you don’t see anything there, any opportunity you have for parents to be invested in–or how about this one–for kids and their parents to be together as you’re doing ministry, then there’s a hole in your ministry. And so, that is something that you want to address.
2. PARENT TRAININGS
The second one is kind of similar to that. It’s your trainings. Now I hope that you have ongoing, regular trainings for your ministry team. That any teachers that you have or anybody like that, that you are pouring into them and training them to do the ministry God has called them to do.
But how about parents? Again, do you have any trainings that are kind of geared toward them exclusively or overlapping with your leaders as you’re talking about how to teach God’s Word faithfully to kids, to students. There’s no reason why parents couldn’t be in that as well. So evaluate your trainings. Are you doing anything to instruct, to equip, and empower your parents to teach the gospel to their kids?
3. SPEND TIME WITH PARENTS
The third thing to look at is your time. How are you spending your time? It’s the most precious resource you have in ministry. What are you pouring your own time, your own effort, your energy into? Now again, most of the time you’re gonna look and say, “Man, that’s mostly kids. That’s mostly students,” depending on your ministry context. But what about parents? What about families? Are you protecting time to pour into them, to have coffee with parents and just talk with them and how they’re doing and equip them and empower them and encourage them?
So look at your calendar. I would encourage you to do this. If you do not have a calendar, take a digital calendar. I use Google calendar myself and I plot in all my tasks during the week and so I can see how I’ve spent my time and plan how I’m gonna spend my time. So do that for a couple weeks if you don’t already and then kind of take a step back and look at it and say, “How did I spend my time? Where did it go?” And if you’re like most people in ministry, you will find that it can be taken away from you very quickly and you can see that, “Man, I really failed to invest in parents this week. I’ve gotta protect that better.”
4. RESPECT YOUR FAMILIES’ TIME
The fourth way you kind of evaluate this is your parents’ time, your families’ time. It’s not your time, but the time for your families. Now here’s the thing, we often will schedule so much on the calendar that we are really depriving our families the opportunity to be families. We’re not giving parents the opportunity to disciple their kids because their kids are never with them because we have them off doing things. And so you want to look at your calendar and be very judicial with this. You say, “Hey, you know what, I’m gonna cut activities. I’m gonna slow down the pace of ministry because I need to give families time to be families. I need to give parents time to disciple their kids.” And so sometimes the best event you can do is the one that you don’t do.
And so I’d encourage you again, using those four metrics evaluate your ministry on an ongoing basis and make sure that you’re being gospel-centered, truly gospel-centered, which means what happens on campus, but also what happens in the homes of your families.