Opening Letter to Parents (cont.)
3. Teenagers need mission.
When Jesus challenged his most-likely teenaged disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, he was tapping into the activist wiring of these young men. In the same way, your teenager needs to be challenged with the mission to reach their peers with the good news of Jesus in a loving, contagious way.
Youth group is a place where your teenager can invite unbelieving friends to hear the gospel. But it’s also a place to equip them to share the good news of Jesus with their peers. (And that, in turn, will help them grow in their faith!) As your youth leader continues to build a Gospel-Advancing ministry, the message of Jesus will advance in them and through them. This process will accelerate the discipleship process in the life of your teen in ways you could never imagine!
4. Teenagers need theology.
“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:14-15
Youth group is a place where teenagers can wrestle through the theology you’ve been teaching them (you have been teaching them, right?). There it will be reinforced in a powerful and personal way under the guidance of a youth leader who knows how to ask great questions and point teens to sound truth.
This should result in your teens knowing and owning their faith on a deeper level. Youth groups and small groups should be a place where kids can ask tough questions and even share doubts and struggles without fear of rebuke. Skilled youth leaders can take questioning teens back to God’s Word as the source of authority. They can help kids process all the biblical truth you are praying they grasp, believe and live out.
Great youth groups build on the foundation that godly moms and dads have laid. And, for those kids who don’t have believing parents, an effective youth ministry helps lay a solid foundation of biblical truth for the rest of a teenager’s life.
5. Teenagers need a safe place to confess and confide.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16
Often teenagers who struggle with sin and temptation have nowhere to confess and confide. They feel trapped by their sins. But a healthy youth ministry can create a safe space for teenagers to open up and talk honestly about their struggles. Of course, this doesn’t mean they should confess every sin to everyone. But it does mean they should have a handful of others who know their struggles and can pray for and encourage them to walk in victory over those sins.
When my son returned from a youth retreat last year, he had this opportunity. He opened up with a handful of others about some of his struggles and then came back and opened up to me. After he confessed, he told me he felt a thousand-pound weight had dropped off his back.
Here’s the thing: My son and I have a very strong and very open relationship. But something about his band of brother friends, under the leadership of a caring adult in a youth retreat type setting, gave him the freedom to confess and confide.
Opening Letter to Parents: Teens Need You!
Skilled youth leaders know how to create a context of open and honest dialogue. Teenagers who push their problems down and never open up often struggle later in life with addictive and destructive behavior. An effective youth ministry can help teenagers deal with these challenges now and prepare them to be victorious both now and later.
Yes, I know teen life is busy. But it would be a shame if our kids graduated from high school and were catapulted into “the real world” without every opportunity to know, live, share and own their faith.
Ultimately, teenagers embracing and embodying the Christian faith is more important than sports and academics. Getting them involved in a healthy, vibrant youth ministry is worth fitting into a crazy, busy schedule. And if it’s not quite as healthy as you think it should be, then why not volunteer and make it better?
Too much is at stake for us to get this wrong. So let’s get it right!
To Reach a Generation,
Greg Stier (a fellow parent of a teenager and founder of Dare 2 Share)
Thanks for reading and sharing this opening letter to parents of teens! Youth leaders: Please share what else you include in an opening letter to parents at your church.