Years ago, as I met with a new student pastor who was struggling to grow a healthy ministry, I shared something that took me a few years to figure out. It wasn't that others hadn't already been doing this. It was more that I was young and thought a strong student ministry was determined by how many students arrived at mid-week worship and events.
A wise student ministry professor had told me years prior (and I guess I didn't listen too well, at first) that a healthy student ministry is built upon a strong ministry with parents of students.
This frightens many new, young, student pastors. In many cases, these pastors do not have children and since many are young themselves, they are closer in age to the students in their ministry than to the parents of their students. Therefore, a sense of fear and lack of expertise often leaves parents feeling as if they're on the outside.
Consequently, many student ministries end up being built on the personality of the leader and parents are unintentionally led to "outsource" disciple-making to pastors, small group leaders and others in the church.
As First Orange Park, the church I am honored to pastor, enters into 2015 soon, we are excited about the changes on the horizon and the steps to be taken that will result in what we believe will be a healthy church with healthy families and all (preschoolers, children, students, young adults, married adults, single adults and senior adults) actively serving in a framework that honors God and provides natural growth and opportunities for parents to be the primary disciple-makers in their homes.
THE NEED FOR PARENT MINISTRY
Ministering with parents of children and teenagers is essential. As many of our senior adults can attest, there is no manual for culture changes and parenting helps presented when a baby is born. Biblical principles are present, and vital, but often the church has been ineffective in giving moms and dads (and grandparents, foster parents, uncles, aunts, etc.) handles to hold as they embark and live out the journey of parenting.
As one aspect of our new family emphasis, we (our ministry leaders) are making available to parents of preschoolers, children (K - Grade 6) and students (Grades 7-12*) resources that are practical, helpful and needed through ParentMinistry.net.
The ROPE - Rites of Passage Experiences are vital in the life of a child.
So, whether you have a child or grandchild or a young person in your family in need of these helps, we are proud to be your encouragers along the way.
We're putting the "Magic Button" on our website soon, but in the meantime, click here or the image below to view resources that can get you started.
The "Magic Button" leads to information for parents of teenagers. Other resources will become available soon.
Our strategic framework for family discipleship will lead all areas of ministry within First Baptist to change over the next few years. This is a needed step and we believe God is leading clearly in this direction to be biblically sound in our discipling strategy. BTW - the resources are just the beginning. More info to come.
*6th Grade is actually in the "Youth" section of ParentMinistry.net, though at First, as in our community's schools, 6th Grade is in our Children's Ministry.