Bethlehem United Methodist Church
Sunday, September 22, 2019
Mission Statement: To give of ourselves so others may know Jesus Christ.

  

 

 

Dear Bethlehem Friends,

I recently came across an article that should be “must read” for all parents and grandparents as the school year

begins. It had the title: “The Secret of Faith After High School? Parents!”
Many youths in the U.S. who regularly attend worship, go on Summer Mission Trips, sing in the Youth

Choir, and actively participate in the Youth Ministry of their church, drop out of church after high school graduation. The BARNA Group, a Christian polling organization has observed, “Overall, about three out of ten young people who grow up with a Christian background stay faithful to church and to faith throughout their transitions from the teen years through their twenties.” Obviously, that means 7 out of 10 do not.

Rev. Dan Dennison, Campus Minister at the University of Oklahoma observes, “The students who come to us that have been discipled and taught how to have a growing relationship with Christ while on their own, generally thrive in college. They appear to do better in school; they are more well-adjusted and become stronger leaders in our ministry.” He added, “Many others fall away from the church altogether. Some continue to stay involved, but it is at the nominal and surface level.” This is distressing to parents, pastors, youth leaders, and the church.

The National Study on Youth and Religion found a factor that is “nearly deterministic” in turning this around. Eight out of 10 young adults ages 24-29 who were still participating in their faith after being active in high school, had one thing in common: Their parents. That is the secret.

Youth leaders agree. “Parents are the crucial disciplers, period,” said Sean Martin, who has worked professionally with youth as a Lead Pastor. “Student ministries aren’t (or shouldn’t be) the primary spiritual mentors of students but should instead subsidize the discipleship already taking place in the home.” Youth ministries are best seen and understood to be in partnership with the parents.

Stephen Ingram adds, “Every chance I get to talk to parents I remind them of the stats (above).”

The study found that youth who remained active regularly had faith conversations with their parents. Often, the extent of parent-youth conversations happen on the way home from church: “How was church?” (or youth group or Sunday School, etc.) the parent will ask. “Good.” is the typical response.

Here are some tips to have more meaningful discussions.
Parents should develop the skill of not asking questions that can be answered in one word, or syllable.

Parents do not need to be experts with all the answers. They just need to be willing to journey with their

questions.
You can start with the sermon, or the lesson, or what the youth group is doing. Start somewhere and ask,

“What did you like about the lesson?” or “What challenged you?”
Parents can grow in their discipleship during the challenging years when their kids are teenagers. What better

time is there to share the journey with other parents in a small group? We could all use some companionship during these days. Why not walk together with others facing the same challenges? Such small groups have proven very helpful. We are not alone. There are others, and there is God.

Parents who share the importance of their faith with their children is perhaps the most important factor. The laid-back setting of vacation, or a family retreat provides an excellent opportunity. Think theologically about God at dinner. Talk about the highs and the lows of the day. Talk about God sightings... where God is at work. Begin with the baby steps. Recover the practice of praying together at night be praying before bedtime... and pray a blessing upon your children. It is an excellent practice that pays off tremendously. One parent reported that it had become so important, that her daughter called her when she was on a business trip. Her daughter has a blessing she wants to remember before God and her mother, and she receives God’s blessing in return.

We must understand that no one has more influence in exposing their children to faith than the
parent. Parents have more quality time, more authority, and more clout than anyone else in the child’s life. We have heard it said how short the time of parenthood can be. They grow up so fast. Why not spice it up with the stories of your youth and how you saw God at work in the challenges you met and the victories and losses that all of us have had. Tell them. Tell them what you learned as you walked by faith

A last word to remember... when youth group is over, the parents are still there! Think about it! 

Better Disciples, More Disciples, Yours in Christs love,

Pastor Roger