For most people, when they hear the words ‘youth ministry’, they instantly picture a loud and enthusiastic gathering of teenagers engaging in high intensity activities. At St George North, youth ministry is about much more than just Friday night youth groups. At its core, our youth ministry is about partnering with parents as they disciple Christian teenagers. The Bible calls parents to be the primary spiritual caregiver of their children. Passages like Ephesians 6:4 and Deuteronomy 6:1-9 emphasise the key role parents play in teaching and applying God’s word to their children.
One example of this partnership in practice is the Sunday morning ministry involving our year 7 and 8 youth (let’s call them 78’s to make it easier!). It’s a great example of a ministry that is aimed just as much (maybe more?) at the parents of the youth as the teens themselves.
Each week, our 78’s join their parents in church. They get to see what happens in church, have appropriate conduct in the church modelled by the adult congregation and parents have the opportunity to teach about these things over the following week. It’s also a great opportunity for parents to teach about what we do before and after church; why we come early, why we make it a priority to talk to newcomers and support people in need.
After the sermon our 78’s head out with a Christian Dad and talk about what they have just heard, with a particular focus on thinking through the application and asking any questions that they might have.
But hopefully that is only the start. During the week, parents are encouraged to follow up on the church learning experience. To help equip parents with this aspect of discipling their 78, we provide a number of ‘Take Home’ questions on the ‘Version 78’ sermon outline. These questions are mostly aimed at helping the 78’s consolidate the Sunday’s teaching. We want them to move beyond comprehension and giving correct answers about what they learned, and to put what they’ve learned into practice. This aspect of parent discipleship is one of the most important things that parents can teach and model to their 78’s. It helps them to move from the abstract idea (e.g., ‘I should love’) to the more concrete idea (e.g. who should I be loving this week, who do I find it hard to love, how specifically should I love them, how am I going to make sure I do that?).
So next time you see a 78 sitting in church on Sunday morning, remember what youth ministry at St George North is about, and remember to pray for them and for their parents as they seek to disciple them. More than that, welcome them and encourage them as you would any member of your church family.
Phil Colgan / Brendan Moar