During my college internship, I was asked to read the book “Family-Based Youth Ministry” by Mark DeVries. This was the first time my eyes were open to the idea of youth ministry reaching beyond the teenagers, themselves. He gave several good ideas about how to connect with the parents of teens. While it was a great book, that is all it really was for me. I never really took it further than starting to say hi to the parents more or making sure they had our youth group calendars.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I attended my first Orange Conference, that I really began to understand the importance of connecting with parents. This concept goes way beyond putting information in their hands. It’s about working on the same thing at the same time. Before I get into it, I do want to admit that I still have a long way to go in truly implementing this concept to its fullest potential. What I have seen, though, has blown me away. Why? Because it is not about just keeping parents in the loop. It’s about coming alongside them in their efforts to raise their children to serve God all the days of their lives. It’s much more than just sending that calendar home. It’s about talking to them about their struggles of talking about the Bible at home. It’s about giving them suggested questions to ask their teenagers. It’s about offering times for them to connect with other parents of teens. It’s about partnership.
Speaking of partnership, one of the other benefits of the Orange philosophy is that I get to work more with our children’s minister and early-childhood minister. When I was in college and in my early days of ministry, I never really considered that to be something I would enjoy. But since we have been thinking about an entire church mentality, we have begun to “silo” our ministries less and less. The end result is a partnership that I have grown to love. When we get together to talk about ministry, not only do I know what is going on with the little children, but they know what is going on with our teens. Then, we are able to develop strategies together that span birth through graduation, and beyond. On top of that, we come up with plans to strengthen that partnership with the parents.
As I look forward to the future of our church and my ministry, I have begun to think of it less and less as mine. Instead, it belongs to God, ultimately, but He has given it to the church, as a whole. We need to stop siloing our ministries and begin thinking of them as one big ministry who partners with the family. This not only includes the “traditional” ones like youth and children, but it includes men’s and women’s ministries, preaching, music, and beyond. Yes, it is important to share Christ with one person, but think of how much greater it would be if you reached the entire family! That’s my vision and goal, and I thank Orange for helping me see it!
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