One of the striking things about the ministry of Jesus was the presence of so many young people. The disciples, with the exception of Peter, were younger than Jesus, according to most Bible scholars. On the day of Pentecost, Peter explained the miracle that took place that day by referring to an Old Testament prophecy from Joel predicting that God would pour His Spirit out upon our sons and daughters.
The first century church was young, vibrant and Spirit filled. The members were young parents, single adults, children as well as the aged. Paul would write lengthy passages about marriage, parenting and caring for the aged. The church’s powerful and humble beginnings was a partnership with parents raising their children.
Pastors equip parents by praying powerfully and faithfully for the parents and children of their congregations. They equip by preaching God’s wisdom from the Bible about marriage and parenting, as well as many of other topics that pertain to family issues. They equip through personal discipleship. They lead their congregations in ministries that strengthen and instruct men on how to love their wives and children; women how to respect their husbands and nurture their children. They equip helping parents and students to discover their life’s purpose. And so much more.
Another way that pastors equip their congregations is by extending their hands of love through children and youth leaders in the church. As a congregation grows and the responsibilities of the pastor increases, a wise pastor knows that he can’t personally pastor everyone, so he sees that everyone is pastored.
When Becky and I were youth pastors we enjoyed facilitating conversations with groups of parents about dating, music, current trends and interests of young people. I recall one such meeting on a lakeshore, while we grilled steaks and fish. We sat around a warm fire listening to the lapping water and talked and prayed with several Christian couples and some of their friends who had not yet become followers of Christ. However we all shared a common interest of raising healthy teenagers! It was an equipping night as well as a friendship evangelism evening. We still enjoy those kinds of evenings.
Studies by the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota reveal some startling statistics. In 2011 media exposure by students is increasing. In the first quarter of 2011 mobile video viewing by 12-17 year olds is averaging 8 hours and 40 minutes per month. Television viewing by the same age group is up to 24 hours and 21 minutes per week. Additionally 18 year olds spend 39 hours and 40 minutes online monthly.
I’m not anti-media. There is much good as well as lots of bad in media. However, the television is not going to be pointing your son or daughter to the Creator of the universe and telling them of God’s love at Calvary.
Compare the time spent sleeping, recreation, school and home time, the little bit of time that your youth minister, children’s minister or pastor has with your family is minuscule. However, it is powerful, influential and life changing for the faithful well prepared praying pastor! Never underestimate the influence of your youth pastor or pastor upon your son or daughter’s life! God placed that pastor in their life as well as yours to equip them for God’s purposes in your lives.
I pray that you will faithfully commit to worshipping with your family weekly at church and treating the ministries of your youth and children’s group with even greater importance than your school or sports activities. Pray for your pastors!
Our lives (Becky and me) are rich in wonderful relationships with young men and women that we have been privileged to be their pastor, youth pastor, district youth director over the years. Many of them are parents and quite a few have gone into ministry. Our lives have also been greatly enriched by great men and women of God in our lives when we were young as well. Just hearing those words, “I believe in you” have made a huge difference in our lives.
This week let your youth pastor or children’s pastor know that you love them and you’re praying for them and pray! Drop them a card and include a gift card to their favorite restaurant or bookstore. Better yet, invite them over to your home for dinner one night! Which reminds me I need to pick up a couple of gift cards before the weekend!