Wanna See More Students Come to Jesus? Pay Closer Attention to Their Parents

February 19th, 2020

The 21st century is a strange place. You spend a lot of time thinking about how that impacts the kids in your youth group. That’s a good thing. However, in this short series of blogs, I want to focus on what’s going on in the lives of parents.

Here’s why.

The two most influential people in your kid’s lives are their parents . . . even if their Mom and/or Dad are no longer directly involved in their upbringing. As a result, what’s going on in parents’ lives has a direct impact (for better or for worse) on how receptive kids are to the Gospel. So, if you want to see more of your students follow Jesus, then pay some attention to their parents.

In an effort to help with that, we’ll look at several cultural trends that impact the lives of the people parenting your kids. Let’s go ahead and tackle a tough one to start. Ready? A growing number of parents see your student ministry as something that distracts their kids from more important things. Yep. You heard me right. More and more parents think your efforts are a waste of their kid’s time that could be spent on something much more profitable. Yikes.

Think about it. This is why you’re going nuts trying to figure out how to get kids to include your youth group in their schedule when they’re also on a traveling soccer team, acting in the school play, studying for the SAT, taking AP classes, working part time, taking a college class, participating in student government, and 101 other things. Where do you think they got the idea that they should do all that stuff? From their parents.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that following Jesus means a kid should necessarily stop doing any of those things. I’m just saying that a growing number of parents are suspicious of any commitment that will pull their kid away from that daunting list of activities.

Why is that?

It’s because parents believe that if their kids do all those things, it will help them get into a good college, so they can get a good job, so they can buy a good house, so they can marry a good person, so they can have good kids who will then do all that stuff, so they can get into a good college, so that they can get a good job, so they…can…well…you get the picture. Pardon the run-on sentence. It seemed like a good fit with a run-on approach to life.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to all parents. Parents who are committed Christians know the value of your student ministry. They are just as committed to having their kid participate as you are. But when we look beyond church families to the growing number of unchurched families, this idea of seeing church youth groups as a distraction is becoming increasingly common.

Of course you could decide to just focus on church families. But when Jesus said, “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37), He wasn’t looking at “church families.” He was looking at the masses of people who had yet to discover that God cared about them. That said, if you think focusing exclusively on church families is a good idea, you might want to ask your Boss about that (and I don’t mean your senior pastor.)

So! There’s the trend.

That’s what a growing number of parents are thinking these days. I hope you’re asking, “Ok. I got it. What should I do?” Here are 3 practical, actionable suggestions.

  1. Pray for parents to see that Jesus can make the lives of their kids better. This is not a metaphor. Actually pray for them – by name.
  2. Figure out a way to get to know the parents in your community. Could be putting on a parent night. Could be inviting them out to coffee. Could be talking to them next time you’re at their kid’s soccer game. There’s tons of opportunities. You just need to be intentional and see that connecting with parents is an important part of connecting with kids.
  3. If your kids’ parents are active on social media, then make sure and follow/friend them. And when they post something, make a comment.

Next month, we’ll look at another cultural trend that’s impacting the parents of your kids.


John hales from Ventura, California where he grew up surfing and playing guitar. He graduated second in his class from Pepperdine University and then attended Fuller Theological Seminary. His first call was to Community Presbyterian Church, also in Ventura, where he worked with high school students. He subsequently held positions with Young Life, The American Church in London, Kings College – University of London, and Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently on staff at North Point Community Church’s Buckhead Campus. He serves there as the Director of Staff Development and the Director of Starting Point.

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.