Christian Leader Call for New Model for Youth Ministry

( [email protected] ) Feb 18, 2004 07:08 AM EST

FORT WORTH, Texas — The National Network of Youth Ministries Forum that was held in Glorieta, N.M., January ended successfully initiating call for new ways to lead youth ministry.

Various leaders representing different denominations and church ministries who shared common concern over youth ministry gathered for the conference and came up with a document as the result, titled: "The Call to Youth Ministers and the Church."

One clear solution that they came down to was strengthening the relationship between the youth and parents in order to maintain faith.

Many prominent youth ministry leaders recognize the deteriorated model of youth ministry of the late-20th century and they address the need of shift in church youth ministry philosophy, training, and leadership, Baptist Press reported. Some small-scale studies indicate that religion brings great impact on the lives of American youth but unfortunately, the church has not been effective in cultivating spiritual lives of the youth.

"For around 60 years, student ministry has focused almost exclusively on teenagers," said Richard Ross, professor of youth and student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, "We now have enough history to know that the majority of students who stay on mission for a lifetime are those from emotionally and spiritually vibrant homes.”.

Ross is one of the first to address the importance of the role of parents as the spiritual leaders as he published “Ministry with Youth and Their Parents” in 1984. Ever since then he has been trying to shift youth ministry to a new approach.

Noted author and speaker Josh McDowell added, "The most powerful impact upon a child's ethical, moral and spiritual development is the relationship with the parents. It is 300 times greater than the church."

According to BP, the document, "The Call to Youth Ministers and the Church," asks youth ministries to “acknowledge parents as the primary spiritual leaders for their children” and to “consistently … involve parents with leaders and resources that equip parents for biblical parenting and primary disciplining of their children.”

The document also asks youth ministers to "include events and experiences that bring parents and teenagers together when it best achieves ministry purposes." Churches are called to "encourage existing youth ministers to make a transition toward parent ministry."

"More than any other factor [by far], parents are responsible for helping their teenagers grow deeply in Christ,” Rick Lawrence, executive editor of GROUP magazine, who helped drafting the document, said, “It's just as important for us to invest in parents' spiritual growth as it is to invest in our youth group members' spiritual growth."

Lawrence continued explaining the importance of the role of parents as the spiritual leaders: "if we can get parents to see themselves as the primary catalysts for faith growth in their kids' lives, our ministries will explode. I think this is the crucial turning-point issue for today's youth ministers."

According to Ross more than 180 people have already signed The Call document and many leaders are anticipated of a big shift in youth ministry.