Helping Parents Have Faith Conversations at Home
Andrew’s post below is a great reminder of all we can learn from each other when we gather together. Join us at the National Youth Workers Convention this fall in Cincinnati, OH to connect with and learn from the full family of youth workers.
You’ve probably heard of the National Study of Youth and Religion, so you know that one of the greatest influences on a child’s faith is the faith of his or her parents. But if you’ve spent much time in youth ministry, then you also know that parents often have a difficult time navigating faith conversations with their children. In fact, parents may not even recognize that it’s important to talk about faith outside of Sunday worship. As youth ministers, we have a responsibility to help provide the language and opportunities for parents to have faith conversations with their children.
For most of us in ministry, faith conversations come naturally, but that might not be the case for parents of the youth we serve.
In order to help parents talk about faith at home, you must help them increase their theological vocabulary. Language is important—language helps to shape the way we think and act, and it shapes the way we participate in the world. As a Christian people, we are to think, speak, and live in a certain way—a language of faith helps us fulfill our call as God’s people in the world. Encourage parents to speak Christian with their teenagers. Other than church, home is the best place to practice using that language, having faith conversations, and learning how to articulate who God is and what God is doing in our lives.
You can help parents facilitate these conversations by making sure you’re consistently communicating with parents.
This doesn’t just mean telling them what big event is coming up next—it means communicating what you’re teaching and why you’re teaching it and giving them prompts to help them have faith conversations with their teenagers. Make it an expectation of your youth ministry:
Not only do we have faith conversations on Sunday or Wednesday—we expect you to continue these conversations in your home.
In our church, when our teenagers transition from confirmation to youth ministry, we hand parents a FUMC youth ministry vocabulary sheet with words and phrases we use in our ministry. Every week, we update parents on what’s happening in the youth ministry, and we talk theologically and practically about what we’re teaching and how they can have those same conversations at home. Sometimes we give them a few question prompts, and sometimes we give them activities to do at home. Be creative—make it fun!
Parents and families might not have these conversations right away, but it’s important that you set expectations for them in your ministry culture.
The hope is that parents will take the things you give them and begin to use them. It’s a long-term plan, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t take at first. Continue to cast the vision and talk about why it’s important—help parents understand that their influence will help to engender and nurture the faith of their teenagers. It’s worth it!
Andrew Mochrie lives with his wife EJ and two dogs Ginger & Olive in Fort Worth, TX where he loves doing youth ministry at FUMC Fort Worth. Andrew graduated from Georgia College & State University and Memphis Theological Seminary with a B.A. in Rhetoric and an M.A. in Youth Ministry through the Center for Youth Ministry Training. In his free time, Andrew loves rock climbing, surfing when he’s in the right place, hiking, biking, checking out live music, and constantly exploring outside! The only time he sits still is over a cup of coffee and a good book.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.