I’ve been waiting for this day since November. It is a day on the calendar that marks the beginning of a new season. In the middle of the bitter cold for much of the country, this day reveals something warmer on the horizon. To many, today is just another day, but for the baseball fan you know today as the day that pitchers and catchers report to spring training. For the non-baseball people out there: pitchers and catchers from MLB teams across the country are heading to the warmer states this week and beginning their first organized practices for the upcoming season.
Pitchers and catchers arrive and begin work before anyone else. There are many thoughts about why this happens: there are more pitchers on a team than any other position player so they need more time to get everyone working, there’s much more coordination that takes place between a pitcher and catcher than anyone else, some believe that pitchers just need more time to get back into the groove of things. I tend to fall into the second thought here. Pitchers and catchers are key players on the team and the coordination they need to have with each other is essential to the success of a team. In fact, a solid pitcher and catcher combination can double-handedly (if that’s a phrase) control an entire game. In a recent interview with the Sporting News baseball historian Joe Thorn says it this way:
“The pitcher and the catcher both probably need to have some kind of training together, in a way that, say, a second baseman and shortstop don’t. The pitcher and catcher relationship is a constant. One might argue that while baseball is a game of nine against nine, at most points in a game, it’s a two against one – pitcher and catcher against batter.”
In a similar way, your student ministry is also a two-against-one strategy with the key players being you and the parents of the students that you lead. When this relationship is strong, it can turn the tide in the life of a student. The opposite is also true. When you, as the student ministry leader, and the parents aren’t on the same page it can cause chaos and a great deal of disruption in the ministry as a whole.
It takes more time for a pitcher and catcher to be on the same page and work together as one. There are so many intricacies that exist in calling pitches, knowing batter tendencies, defensive alignment, how each pitcher throws and how each catcher likes to work the plate. Time must be spent here or the team will suffer. The same is true in your relationship with parents. It takes more time for you to be on the same page with them. It takes more than a weekly newsletter and a video announcement on Facebook (though these are good ideas) to have the relationship with them necessary to make the most impact in the lives of the students in your ministry.
My encouragement through the blog today is simple: spend more time with the parents in your ministry. Perhaps, even more time than you spend with the students. If we really believe that parents are the primary disciplers in the home, then as student pastors we have to see part of our role as a discipler of parents, not just students. In some cases your discipleship of parents will be trying to lead them to Jesus while at other times it will just be encouraging them and making yourself available to them because they are already strongly walking with Jesus. You can spend all your time in campus ministry, sermon preparation, and early morning Bible studies, but if you aren’t working in tandem with parents then you are limiting your effectiveness. Student ministry is a two-against-one battle where you and the parents partner together to battle for the life of the student to see them become a reproducing disciple of Jesus.
This post was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of Lifeway Student Ministry