Great student pastors across the world are fighting a weekly battle for the attention of their students. The problem is that the time that we have to influence our students is extremely minimal in comparison to the time students spend in other environments. As I travel the country and train student pastors, one of the illustrations that I give over and over is the “2 Day Illustration.”
The reality of student ministry is that, when you add up the hours, most of us have little more than 2 days of cumulative, influential time with the kids in our ministries each year. Although it takes countless hours to prepare and execute what seems like a never-ending cycle of events, worship services, Bible studies, and retreats, the fact is that we must find other ways to speak into the lives of our students.
One way to influence your students even when you aren’t with them is to train parents in conversational discipleship.
Imagine the mileage that families could get out of some strategic conversations on the many car rides to and from practice, tutoring, parties, etc! What if parents came to the dinner table each night equipped with casual conversation topics that helped them get to know their students better while also leading them to Jesus! Even better still, what would it look like if parents were taught how to hold regular family Bible studies in their homes! This may sound cheesy at first, but this is discipleship at its best. The number one role of a parent is to disciple their children and raise them in the ways of the Lord, but the problem is that many of them have never been discipled by someone else. Without a model, or the experience of someone else discipling them, it is difficult for parents to know how to navigate this charge, but with your help, parents could begin to learn what it looks like to live out the charge in Deuteronomy 11:19 when the scripture says, “teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
In your role as a shepherd of teenagers, you should be connected enough to know what teenagers are talking about and how those “trending” topics can be turned into gospel conversations. Pick out a few of these topics and begin to train your parents on leveraging these issues for intentional parenting. Additionally, give parents some resources for family Bible studies. This can be as simple as helping them walk through whatever book of the Bible you will be preaching through for the next month. Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel for this. Tie it to whatever you are already doing and this will provide continuity and deeper training in the areas you are focusing on already!
Lastly, don’t forget to train your parents in how to do this. Many parents feel intimidated when it comes to instituting things like family Bible studies, but this is nothing more than spiritual warfare! Give them the tools, teach the how to use them, and let them know that your door is always open if they need help! As parents begin to step out and have these talks with their students they are sure to connect in a new way, and you will have increased your influence on not only the students, but also the parents in your ministries.
This post was written by John Paul Basham, Student Ministry Specialist