Originally posted on trippatkinson.com.
Parenting is tough… but you don’t have to do it alone.
There is a jar that sits in my office that is filled with ping-pong balls, 168 to be exact. That is the number of hours in a week. 165 of the balls are white and 3 are orange. The white balls represent the average number of hours our students spend away from church. These are the hours spent doing the things students do. The three orange balls represent the average number of hours our students spend a week in our Student Ministries programs. (Sure we offer more, but not all students take advantage of everything offered.)
This jar sits in my office to remind me and my team at Sugar Hill Church of several important realities. We have to…
MAKE IT COUNT.
The first reminder is that we must make our limited time with students count. Our programming must be excellent. Every minute must count. We cannot afford to do anything halfway or without purpose. Every time students are with us, they must be encouraged, loved, and challenged. While ministry to students should be wildly fun and highly engaging, the end goal must be to help students discover and live God’s best for their lives. This is discovered in the Bible, experienced in relationship with Jesus, & expressed in serving. We must make a BIG DEAL of the things that are really a big deal.
MAKE IT PERSONAL.
Everything that matters begins and ends with relationship. Packing students in a room and “wowing” them with a program makes an impression. Getting involved with their lives and loving them with a relationship makes a difference. We must go where they are. We must understand their world. We must have the relational capital to know where students are and challenge them to something greater. Authentic relationships are the currency of accountability and a catalyst of consistent growth.
The reason small groups are such a big deal at Sugar Hill Church is that relationships matter.
BRING IT HOME.
Most importantly, the jar reminds me of the fact that I am not the primary spiritual influence in a student’s life. That role still belongs to parents. Like it or not, parents have the awesome responsibility of spiritually training and making disciples of their children. My most important role, then, is to partner with parents and support them in this process. I can offer parents relevant biblical teaching for their students each week. I can offer small group settings for their teenager to build authentic relationships with their peers under the mentorship of loving adults. I can offer numerous experiences monthly for their student to learn about and engage in worship, serving, and leadership.
Although our staff works tirelessly to ensure these things are offered with excellence, the impact of such opportunities falls short if the experiences and lessons learned are not directly tied back to the home. In order for these lessons to really “take root,” they must be reinforced and practiced at home.
For this to happen effectively, we (Student Ministries staff) must continue working intentionally to know families and be aware of their needs. Parents must work on continuously being aware of opportunities we offer students, as well as what happens at our programs and events (what is being taught, how students are being challenged, what commitment their students are making, etc.). As we partner and encourage one another, we can truly be teammates in fulfilling the most important responsibility we will ever have.
HERE FOR YOU…
Such a partnership between a Student Ministry and families can be so effective in offering the best possible opportunities for students to grow in Christ and make a difference for Him. Please know that we are here for you and your family and want to be the best support we can be! You never have to feel alone.