Archive for the 'family' Category

the crisis in youth ministry: part 1

for awhile now some of the best thinkers in youth ministry have been saying youth ministry is in crisis. what we in youth ministry have been doing is not working as is evidenced by the number of kids who graduate from high school and youth group, leaving their faith behind as they move on to college and careers.

i’ve been pondering all of this for a while wondering what i can do as a volunteer and a small group leader. how can i make a difference for the girls i see every week? i’ve come up with 5 things that i’ll share in this space over the next few days. it’ll be a 4 part series as two of the items link together. and i’m going to write from my perspective as a volunteer small group leader. i do think that each of these items translate up to a youth group as a whole.

to lead off, we must as youth workers do better at supporting, encouraging, and engaging parents. we need to make an effort to meet & get to know the parents of the kids in our small groups.

as a volunteer, it is easy to skip engaging parents and leave that up to the paid staff person. but over the years i’ve learned that getting to know the parents and family situations of the girls in my group makes a difference in understanding the girls and their needs. i also realize that ideally parents are meant to be the primary disciplers of their kids. and if we get to know the parents, we can encourage and support them in that role. i’m fortunate to serve at church that believes part of youth ministry involves engaging and equipping parents. each year our youth ministry hosts a training seminar for parents, something i think all youth ministries should be doing.

here are a few ideas to connect with and serve parents:

  • greet parents when they drop off and/or pick up their child for small group.
  • email or send home a letter introducing yourself (and your co-leaders) to the parents of kids in your group.
  • gather parent emails and email them the schedule for your group.
  • create a blog or newsletter with info for parents (great resource is the center for parent/youth understanding)
  • host a small group family night (yes your students will roll their eyes, but they’ll get over it)
  • host a parent seminar (homeword ministries and center for parent/youth understanding both offer package deals to make it easy to host a parenting event)

reaching out to parents is key to helping students build a lifelong faith. as youth workers, we only have students for a few hours a week. anything we can do to help parents can only benefit the kids we serve.

Cute Little Sheep

i’m so blessed to be auntie to 11 kids. two of them live here in san diego. these two i’ve affectionately nicknamed ladybug, who’s 2 and 1/2, and spike, who’s 11 months. they were in their church christmas pageant this morning and i videoed them being the cutest little sheep ever. and no, i’m not biased ;).

family ties

this past weekend, my parents–dad & stepmom to be specific–came for a short visit. they drove out from oklahoma and brought me the dining table that’s been in my family for four generations. i’ll post more about the table & its history later.

my dad likes to be on the go. sitting still at home has never been his thing. and my stepmom is a good match for him–she enjoys being on the go and doesn’t mind going with the flow, very important when traveling with my dad or just being related to him. i have to say, i’m very lucky in my dad’s choice of a second wife. they’ve been married for 15 years now and had dated for about 3 years before that. she’s a great lady & lots of fun. and she’s a very wise & grace filled person.

not long after she and my dad became serious, my dad tried to push her as part of the family. my parents had been divorced about 2 years and i was just starting to really deal with the divorce. a stepmom was more than i was ready for at the time. judy and i had lunch at her request. she told me she’d met my mom and that i had a wonderful mom. she told me she’d like for the two of us to become friends, but that she was fine with whatever pace i wanted to do that at. i really didn’t want to like her, but i had to respect her graciousness and directness. eighteen years later, i just love her. she and i stayed up late talking after my dad had dozed off and it was one of the best parts of their visit. and there’s a great deal of the time i think i perplex my dad. she takes it in stride and helps smooth things over and tries to explain it to him–and when she can’t and he still doesn’t get me, she makes sure he just accepts me as i am. she also does the same for him when he’s driving me nuts.


there is one little quirk about my stepmom, that has become a bit of family comedy. she likes for her and my dad to dress alike. exactly alike. as much as possible. and since hanging out in san diego is casual, well, here’s day 1 of their matching outfits during the visit…

and yes, there were matching outfits for the rest of the visit. it used to mortify me, but now, i’m used to it and rather amused by it. and since they obviously make each other happy…well, it’s okay with me. as long as they don’t want me to dress like them too!


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