It turns out there’s more to discipling our teens simply than sending them to ‘Youth on Friday’. Yes, parents – we play a critical role. If you want your teens to know and love Jesus Christ as their Lord and saviour you can’t just leave it up to the local Youth Pastor. Just think about how much time your kids spend at church or meeting with the guys running programs there – maybe 3 or 4 hours a week? But you spend time every day with these budding individuals. Who is better placed to disciple these teens? Blaque Nubon talks to Youth Pastor Jason Devenish about how he actively engages parents in discipling teenagers. Don’t panic – he has plenty of tips to share and encouragement to give to parents leading their children to Christ.

Parents, You Are Already Called to Youth Ministry

“If you have a child in your house at this point, you are a children’s worker. If you have a teenager in your house, you are a youth worker, or youth pastor, or whatever you wanna call yourself. You’ve been called to that. You’ve been called to youth ministry and children’s ministry. And so I think discipleship in the home is vital. In fact, it would make our youth ministry gatherings a lot easier if parents were discipling at home.”

How to Disciple Your Teens

Relationship is the Key

“Don’t over think it. Just be yourself and allow questions. So, what I mean by be yourself is be relational. Sit down with them and don’t have the switch of like, “okay I’m talking as your Christian mum or dad now. And there’s a switch to like, okay, I’m just mum and dad.” Ask them how their day was. Ask them how their school work is going. Show interest in their day to day lives. Show them that you really care. And build a relationship that is good for open discussion. Because that will help facilitate your discipling at home.

Don’t Fear questions!

And when I say allow questions I think, a lot of the time we think that when people ask questions, we think that they are trying to deny the truth. And there are times when people will ask questions of Christianity or the Bible, and it’s very clear that they are trying to actually show why they don’t believe. But more often than not, with teenagers, they’re saying, “this doesn’t make sense to me. Would you mind explaining it to me?” Or “why do you think this is the case?” Or “what do you think about this?” And if we shut them down and we say, “don’t ask those questions”, or like “oh what you think you’re clever?” That doesn’t work well when you disciple teens.

If a question is a really a tough one, don’t be afraid to say I don’t know the answer. Just say, “yoh! That’s a really good question. And I’m really glad that you’re thinking that way. Do you mind if I come back to you in a day or two?” I promise you now, they will not think that you don’t know what you’re talking about. They will not think that’s stupid. They will respect you.

What about After Lockdown?

There is no doubt that this period of lockdown has forced us into closer proximity (if not relationship) with our teens. This is a real gift in terms of opportunities for discussions and debate – leading teens to trust in God during these uncertain times. However, we need to be wary of slipping back into old habits when lockdown comes to an end. Jason has further tips and encouragement for parents who want to disciple their teens here as well:

“I think when life gets busier, that’s gonna be the real test. Because, I know that it can be difficult when you’ve work a long 8 to 10 hour day. It feels like almost a burden to sit down and read your Bible with your family. But again parents, it’s a really good opportunity to sit down at the dinner table and disciple your teens. Ask them “how is your day? How did school go? How are your friends doing?” Show some interest. And then straight from that go into “well today I’d like to read…” or “as a family we are currently reading through the book of John. So, we are gonna carry on working through that.” Don’t allow yourself to lose the momentum that you built in lockdown.”