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Could Parents Also Please Evangelize the Youth?

previously published in June 2004

“Ahhhhhh!  That feels delightful!”  At last Pastor John is able to kick off his shoes and sink his worn feet into the ocean of carpet spread across his living room.  For a brief second he spreads his toes and wiggles them into the plush thicket of carpet.  Glancing at the clock on the bookshelf, he notices that he made it back just in time for Saturday Night Live.  “I wonder who’s hosting this weekend,” he ponders.  As he lands in front of the television, Pastor John recounts the day’s happenings and events.  Falling asleep to the hysterical laughter of Will Ferrell and company, John anticipates the coming of his day of rest, his sanctuary, his Sabbath.

Yes, as blasphemous as it seems many of today’s Pastors feel that Sunday is their day of rest for a variety of reasons.  But besides the physical exhaustion that is causing the fatigue in our church’s leadership?  Why do our Youth Pastors and Lay Leaders look so feeble, pale, thin, and empty?  Why do they nod off during movie nights or distant car rides, or even during sermons?  Why does their appearance seem sometimes unflattering?  And why on earth can’t they get their hair cut?  Why does it seem like they are mentally and physically running on empty?  What is leaving our pastor’s drained in their ministries?  There are many answers in line that may remedy our inquiry.  Let us examine a few. 

1.  They are busy.  There simply aren’t enough hours in a day.  It is true that many of our Youth Pastors are serving multiple commitments.  Many full-time students have accepted the responsibility towards academics and pastoring a local church simultaneously.  Some are restrained by work at another job.  Many of our pastors are also full-time parents.  Regardless of the reasons, sometimes there is not sufficient time to organize worships, bible studies, events, programs, outings, and retreats while maintaining a balance in one’s spiritual life and social needs.  Pastors daily pay the toll of time in order to be effective in their ministries.  But even so, this is not the best answer to why our pastor’s are tired. 

2.  They do not have enough support in ministry.  Youth Pastors cannot find fully committed lay-leaders, elders, or deacons to assist them in their ministries.  Serving as a solo leader can be fatiguing on even the strongest individual.  Sadly, there are pastors who report to work each Friday evening and Sabbath morning.  They come to work dressed in the proper work attire, punch in their time card and commence their work day.  The day begins with song service which is led out by the pastor.  Following song service is the lesson study which is again led out by the pastor.  The congregation is then given a 10-15 minute recess in which the pastor leaves the room to prepare for the divine worship service that is led out by who else other than the pastor.  Later that day the pastor organizes and leads a service activity amidst murmuring and persistent complaint.  He then concludes the day with a planned dinner and an evening activity where only a fraction of the members attend.  At the close of the evening, he stomps the dust off his work boots, punches in his time card, grabs his lunch box and thermos and drives home.  As discouraging as this picture may seem, even so this is not the best answer to why our pastor’s are tired. 

3.  They cannot relate.  It would be safe to say that today’s youth are a peculiar bunch.  Our parents thought this same exact thing when we were growing up and we have only begun to see its accuracy.  Sometimes Pastors are held back from developing relationships with their youth because of surrounding issues, lifestyles, problems, or habits.  Road blocks of culture, age, gender, and mental outlook often times clash with the personality of the youth pastor.  So pastors create activities and events to medicate the rift that has developed between pastor and youth.  However, they find the activities and events are shed by the youth as outdated, redundant, and content void. 

The range in the age of the youth group can leave the pastor searching for a way to accommodate, entertain, and teach a diversified group.  This can cause the pastor to become closer to certain individuals while alienating other members of the group, or spreading him/herself so far and wide that everyone is neglected of special attention.  As weary as this task of relating to every member of the group may be, it is still not the main reason pastors are tired.  

What then is the secret of the giant cloud looming over the head’s of all the youth leaders and pastors?  Why is today’s youth pastor disheartened?  It is simple.  The family involvement in youth ministry is sagging to an almost non-existent level. 

Parents are concurrently the greatest ally and the greatest enemy of a youth pastor.  Parents can reinforce God’s love in their family life through modeling, tutelage, and encouragement.  Yet, they also possess the power to negate this very same principle through, indifference, disregard, and focus of worldly excellence. 

Pastors are tired because the same parents who do not teach their children about their faith question why it isn’t being taught in the church.  Pastors are tired because the same parents who do not teach their children respect ask why their children misbehave.  Pastors are tired because parents complain about their children not being educated in the Bible, yet their children miss church to attend SAT classes.  Pastors are tired because parents complain about their children not having any direction in their lives, yet when they are inspired to do mission work; it is not an acceptable profession.  Pastors are tired. 

But hope provides an answer to exhaustion.  As previously mentioned, parents can serve youth ministry and revive it to heights unparalleled.  Perhaps we can one day call it “Parent/Youth Ministry” where inspiration is triggered first in the home and nurtured in the Body of Christ.  Maybe we can embrace of the concept of “Priesthood of all Believers” and hold ourselves accountable to our children and youth.  Perhaps our parents can join in the ranks of service and experience the utter joy of youth ministry.  As a family we will be able to see hearts overturned to Jesus and together present ourselves as servants in the great Gospel Commission.

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