Parenting Points are designed to be shared with the congregational families youth workers serve. Feel free to copy and distribute this article with the families in your congregation and beyond!
Parents are truly the busiest people I know. They are trying to help their children experience everything. There’s soccer, dance classes, football, basketball, tennis, drama classes, homework, chess club, Civil Air Patrol, responsibilities for aging parents, work and church. I get tired just writing about it. However, as busy as parents are, their time and talents are vital to your youth ministry program.
When I began serving as the youth director of our church, I thought it was my responsibility to do everything and not bother those very busy parents. As a busy parent myself, I empathized and understood just how busy a parent could be. But my wise pastor taught me that withholding requests for service didn’t help these frazzled parents at all. Rather, I was robbing them of the joy of servanthood. My pastor helped me understand that a large part of ministry is allowing other people to play important roles. When I began to internalize this, my perspective changed. Suddenly, I understood clearly that one of the missions of ministry is plotting to help people grow spiritually through servanthood.
Some parents shy away from servanthood and volunteering due to time restraints. Others feel inadequate, that they either don’t have any gifts or their meager offerings will not make a difference. Still others have tried to serve and felt like they failed or were not appreciated.
Regardless of this, professional church workers have a real chance to help people serve. Because of their position in the congregation, professional church workers can be emboldened to encourage parents and others to serve and volunteer. God’s word in Galatians 5:13 tells us we are called to be free but also that God has commanded us to love Him and one another. God wants us to raise our hands and say, “Send me, I’ll do it.” It is the job of the professional church worker to communicate God’s plan for His people to serve one another, to help identify each person’s gifts, and to affirm their efforts.
Pastor Randy Walquist, the veteran pastor of my church, is an excellent recruiter of workers for Christ. Pastor Walquist has developed a 10-point strategy to confront a potential volunteer with a need in the church that goes something like this:
1. Learn all you need to know about what needs to be accomplished.
2. Pray that the right volunteer will be found to accomplish God’s work.
3. Give the potential volunteer a personal, private invitation to serve.
4. Tell the potential volunteer that there is something that the Lord wants them to do.
5. Explain to the potential volunteer how you think his or her gifts can be used to successfully accomplish the task.
6. Make what you are asking clear. Tell the potential volunteer the approximate time frame and what their probable investment of time, talent, and treasure will be.
7. Tell the potential volunteer why you believe that they would be great at the particular task you are asking them to do. This may involve helping them identify gifts they may or may not know they have.
8. Let the potential volunteer know that if they are unable to help for this particular occasion that you understand and love them anyway. Share with him or her your hope that a future opportunity will present itself when it might be possible for him or her to serve.
9. When the volunteer has served, make sure to affirm his or her efforts both privately and publicly.
10. Thank God for their willingness to serve.
To encourage the help of busy parents, a professional youth worker might need to be additionally creative. For instance, a time-share approach could be adopted where a job that would usually go to one person could be divided into doable time increments among several people. This would allow more people to become involved and share the joy of service for our Lord while not taxing anyone too much.
Parents who volunteer for youth ministry or Sunday school receive blessings that help their family prosper as well. Experts continue to tell us that intergenerational relationships are essential in the development of successful young people. When parents serve with their children, they exemplify their commitment to the Lord and His work. Parents get to spend time with their children in addition to the hours spent transporting them to events. Parents are given the opportunity to build relationships with the adults who serve their children through the congregation’s youth ministry program. Parent volunteers have a real opportunity to strengthen their family through their service in youth ministry.
I have wondered many times why it seems that the same people volunteer over and over again and why these volunteers are often the busiest people in the congregation. It’s obvious that these people feel blessed through their volunteer service. They feel chosen, capable, loved and appreciated. They find time they didn’t know they had. They develop new relationships. They come a little closer to realizing God’s potential for their lives. They discover talents they were surprised they possessed and they feel empowered by the Holy Spirit to love and serve others. It is a privilege to help our wonderful parents get a little closer to that potential.
There is no better example of a servant than that of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus spent His entire life serving others. In fact, the entire purpose of His life was to serve and save His people. When we serve out of love for Him, we mimic the service He did during his life and that He still does today. When the question is asked, “What would Jesus do?” we can say He made lunch, He healed the sick, He made wine, He prayed for friends, He washed feet, He volunteered to die in our place. There is no better ambition than to be Christ-like and to serve. Those busy parents in your congregation will be blessed by the service they do for your youth ministry program. All you need to do to is ask them for their help.
thESource is published on the Web by LCMS District & Congregational Services-Youth Ministry. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 1333 South Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295; 1-800-248-1930; www.lcms.org. Editor: Gretchen M. Jameson; Assistant Editor: Dawn Cornelius-Gaunt; Layout: Gretchen M. Jameson. VOL. 1 NO. 7 May 2004.