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When parents engage actively within the Church community, they provide a model for their young people in what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus. When parents:
> Encourage young people to become involved in youth ministry;
> Drive young people to Church youth programming;
> And when parents implement youth programming,
they are serving as partners to the Church ministry.
Youth ministers must realize that for those conscious actions of the heart there is no other appropriate response other than gratitude and appreciation. Too often, it becomes easy to complain about parents and their habits. We may believe they are overly protective, not protective enough, or value sports programming over Church programming. Our conclusion may be that they just don’t get it, or worse—that they just do not care. If we believe that the parents of the young people we serve need to be better partners in ministry, the first step lies with us. It must be our goal to improve the relationships that rest in our hands, and inspire parents to give their children a greater connection to what will carry you through life in God’s eyes, not just the perspective of society.
Recently, I tripped across a video that exemplifies a parent’s love. A dad and his young daughter, Grace Elizabeth, climbed into one of those amusement park rides that mechanically swings you at high speeds to great heights and then plummets you back again. Grace, fearlessly encourages her father, exclaiming, “Hold on, Dad.” Her father, who has squeezed himself into the contraption already has a look of concern.
As the ride starts, that concern quickly accelerates into sheer horror. He closes his eyes. He screams, not in exultation, but in panic. He iindiscreetly lets loose one profane word. Less than twenty seconds into the ride, he proclaims, “Never Again, Grace Elizabeth!” As the pendulum swings decrease towards the end, while his daughter has already raised her hands well over her head in typical amusement park ride fashion, he releases his death grip on the safety bar, and for a brief moment he finds his courage. He lifts his hands inches above his secure place and into the air.
Grace’s dad likely thought that ride lasted for a long time, but in reality it was probably about a minute at the most. They both have smiles on their face and the ride worker comes by to check on Grace Elizabeth and her father, informing them that they can take a second spin on the ride right then and there.
Without hesitation the father leans over and tells his daughter, “I’ll do it again, honey.” Then he goes at it again, reliving that minute-long terror all over again.
“Never Again, Grace Elizabeth!” “I’ll do it again, honey.” Welcome to the insane courageousness of parenting. While the amusement park dad wasn’t prepared to raise his hands up into the air as excitedly as the Prodigal Son’s father, it is a safe bet to believe that he woulda’ if he coulda’. I watched the video twice in a row when I first discovered it. The first time, I laughed. The second time, I cried. The panic that took him over was just entertaining, yet the love for his daughter was so endearing. In a single moment, he showed how love can win out.
For Discussion: What are the first steps we should be taking in our service with parent? Please comment below with your critique clarifications, and responses. <image source>
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