Currently, I’m a youth pastor in Aurora, Ontario. I love hanging out with students in the community. It’s great. Often times I find that there is loads of pressure on youth ministers to properly disciple students. There is an expectation from many parents and others that the job of a youth minister to make sure their child grows up to know and follow Jesus. I have a book of quotes from Mother Teresa and I read the following today:
It is very important for children to hear their parents talk about God. The children must be able to ask about God. Once I gave a prayer to a communist and he took it back to his family and the children started to pray. When he saw me again he said, “Mother, you don’t know how your prayer and picture have disturbed the whole family. The children want to know who God is. They want to know why Mother is speaking this way.” The children are hungry. That is why we need to pray together. If the parent sets the example, the children will not forget how to pray, how they love each other, how they share sorrow, how they share joy. Children watch…they watch and they grow with that. They will learn that it makes a difference how they live their lives by watching what the parents do.
The family is fertile ground for discipleship. In fact, parents need to realize the importance, not just of teaching their children proper beliefs, but of putting the Gospel on like a coat and modeling what it might look like for the Gospel to come alive in their family, neighbourhood and lives. There is a difference between teaching and modeling. You can teach without modeling, but one can never model without teaching, for modeling in itself is a form of teaching. Possibly the greatest form of teaching. For Jesus showed us not what to believe, but rather, what to do. He showed us the better way to live.
As a youth minister I do not feel as if it’s my sole responsibility to disciple young people. However, I desire to create a space where people can pursue God and be pursued by Him. I feel that a big part of what I ought to be doing is coming alongside parents to help support them as they disciple their kids. Part of this, certainly, is creating a space where students can feel safe to let their guards down and discuss what it means to follow Christ.
This all raises the question, ‘what about students whose families are not believers and therefore are not being discipled at home.’ I’ll save that for a later post.
Grace and peace,