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.”
“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 it’s vital – I think discipleship in the home is vital. In fact, it would make our youth ministry gatherings… we have it on a Friday and different churches have it on different days. But it would make our ministry a lot easier if parents were discipling at home.”
Introducing Jason Devenish
Blaque: Welcome back to The Gospel Coalition Africa Podcast. My name is Blaque Nubon, your host. I’m really glad that you could join us for this episode. Hope you’re still at home safe. Washing your hands and just staying at home as the government has told us to. And I think that call has gone out to many African countries. Hope you’re still praying and trusting that the Lord is getting His will done. With that said, we just wanna thank you for all the feedback you’ve given us for all the other episodes that we’ve been releasing. Especially during this pandemic. And thank you so much for the helpful response. And we just wanna get into this episode today. And just before we get into our main topic, we have Jason Devenish on the other line and he’s gonna introduce himself. What’s up bro?
Jason: Hey bro.
Blaque: How you doing man?
Jason: Good, good, how you doing?
Blaque: Good man. Thank you so much for being part of this episode. Thank you for your willingness to wanna just come chat with us bro.
Jason: Awesome, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to share with everyone. Looking forward to it.
Blaque: Can you just tell us a bit about yourself bro? Your family, and what you’re currently involved in?
Jason: Cool. So, currently I stay with my mum, my dad and my 2 sisters. We stay here in Sandton, Johannesburg. There is quite a big age gap between myself and my sisters. 7 years between myself and the 1 and then 8 years between the other one. So, yeah, there’s been an interesting dynamic growing up with two people who are quite a bit younger than me.
I am currently involved in music ministry at Christ Church Sandton and youth ministry. And obviously I love both ministries. I have a passion for music and I have a passion for teenagers. I think definitely two of my favourite ministries to be involved in. But I mean at the same time, I think this goes for most people who work in a Church, whatever else needs to be done, I am involved in that! I’d say the primary focus would be youth. And then secondary would be music. Then after that, just anything else that needs to be done! And I’m currently in my third year of my bachelor’s degree at South African Theological Seminary. So looking forward to finishing that!
Blaque: For real bro! We need guys who are educated to handle the scriptures. ‘Cause a lot of dudes just get on the pulpit and say stuff that’s just not even in the Bible. So, it’s definitely cool man. I think, just before we get into what we’re chatting about, care to tell us a bit about how you met Jesus bro?
Jason Meeting Jesus
Jason: Yeah. So, I grew up in a Christian home, and actually I grew up at Christ Church Sandton. Which is where I am working at the moment and serving. But it was quite a journey. I also went to a Christian school and I suppose the way the guys at the school did things was very different to what we did at Sandton. So, it was quite a ride. It felt like, not two different types of Christianity, but it was just not what I was used to – from the school side. And I had many times when I would kind of like put up my hand to give my life to Jesus at the school camps, and that kind of thing. But there was never really that heart commitment. It was almost kind of like an impulsive like raise your hand kind of thing.
Eventually I stopped. Eventually I was like “this just isn’t working out for me”. And I almost feel like, in a way, it felt like God just didn’t want me. So, was putting up my hand saying like, you know, “I have seen” and God was kinda like, “no”. But as I said, I think it was more that just my heart wasn’t there. You know? It was that mental commitment of “yeah, I wanna follow Jesus”. But, when it came to actually following Him and letting go of the things that I love, that didn’t quite happened. And then 2012, 18th of April, which passed like a week ago. 18th April 2012, I became a Christian. Where there was that heart change as well. And yeah. And it’s been a journey.
Blaque: Was that at a school camp?
Jason: No, no. That was actually through my cousin. My cousin is also involved in ministry. And, yeah… But I mean I say it was, I mean the moment happened with her and her minister. But I mean, I think there was just a lot of input from the guys at Christ Church Sandton. Input from the teachers of the school where I was at. A massive amount of input from the two guys who were running the youth program at Christ Church Sandton at that time. They put a lot of effort and energy into me. I don’t know why! I do hope that they look back now and think “OK. It was worth it”. I definitely gave them a hard time!
I did a bit of thinking and asked a lot of questions; argued with a few people and, over time, God softened my heart.
I think it was just over time – and over the 2 to 3 years when I kinda stopped caring – that, you know, I asked the questions and did a bit of thinking for myself. And instead of making impulsive decisions of “I wanna follow Jesus”. Yeah, as I said I did a bit of thinking and asked a lot of questions; argued with a few people and, over time, God softened my heart. And I think throughout, all the people that I spoke to, He was just working. Working in and through all of them.
Blaque: That pretty dope man. Praise the Lord for that.
Choosing Youth Ministry
Blaque: And so now you’ve given your life to Jesus. I mean, a lot of kids have like crazy dreams. Like being sports personalities, politicians, musicians all of that stuff. So, from where you were at, how did you end up in deciding that you were gonna do ministry? Why and how did you get there?
Jason: I think again, like, in the same way with me, you know, coming to faith, I think there were a lot of contributing factors in me making the decision to come to ministry. But I think God had been kind of planting the seeds beforehand. So, the day I became a Christian, I knew that I was going to go into ministry. The day I became a Christian, I was like, “that’s what I wanna do”. I wanna work in a Church. And I remember like, I don’t know if this is a great story to share… I am really nervous to share it! But I’ll share it anyway.
When I was a lot younger, I think I was like 10 or 11. My parents went to Bible study and I was at home with my helper. And she was in the lounge watching TV. And I was like, you know, it sucks that I don’t have a youth group. Because, you know like I see all these other churches where they had their kids going to youth. And our Church didn’t have a youth program at the time. And the one that they did have I wasn’t old enough for. So, I wish I could go to youth and you know jam to like, you know those Hillsong like those rock songs? Like ‘Top of the World’, and like ‘Take it All’. Like those are my jams. And I actually like, I took a whole lot of my toys and I put them on my bed, and I run a youth service for them. In my room. And if that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what was!
Blaque: Listen, those toys had hearts of stones bro and you believed that God could soften their hearts. You know what I mean? He’s a God of miracles man!
Jason: 100%! I don’t know if I am gonna regret sharing that story…!
Blaque: It’s definitely gonna be an illustration for something.
Jason: I have used it as an illustration in a sermon before. And look, I mean, I still have the book where I wrote the sermon. And like, it was way out of context. So dodgy! But yeah, I think also just watching the guys doing youth ministry specifically at our Church, I really loved the way they did ministry. And I felt like I connected. Even with someone who wasn’t necessarily interested in Jesus or in the Bible at the time. They were just so loving and patient.
I remember, when I became a Christian, looking at that model of ministry and thinking, “if I can do youth ministry like that, I can help people come to know Jesus like they helped me.” They were incredibly patient and tolerant. And it definitely paid off. I think it was them that really inspired me. Just watching their model and thinking like “hey, if doing ministry looks like this, I could definitely do that.” And when I became a Christian I just wanted everyone to know what I’d found. And I think that’s why I think the day I became a Christian I was just like “cool. I am also going into ministry.”
Blaque: That’s super encouraging. I think, I have known you, but I have never known that story about you. And that’s I think just how deep a passion for wanting to be in full time ministry is. So, how long have you been serving as a youth pastor at Christ Church Sandton? And I can assume what your greatest joy is but I will ask anyway, what has been your greatest joy?
Seeing Young People ‘Get it’
Jason: So, I have been serving as the youth pastor at Sandton for going on 5 years now. This is my fifth year. And there’s many joys. But I’m sure, being someone who’s served in youth, you also know there’s the joys – but there’s also the struggles. But I think for me the biggest joy has been seeing young people get it.
One of the that things we had to, sort of, I suppose deal with, with our youth group, is that a lot of our teens didn’t have the biblical foundation that they would have received through Sunday school. ‘Cause a lot of our teens walk to youth and Church. So, they kinda came in after that Sunday school phase. So, they kinda had an idea of who Moses was. And there’s a guy named Abraham and all that. So, we decided to choose very specifically what series we gonna do. So, we did a series through the book of Mark. Introducing them to Jesus and sort of showing them His life and His ministry. And it was really encouraging just seeing them get it.
Having teenagers’ sort of looking and saying, “I thought Jesus was like this. But I see that He wasn’t”. And I think it’s just been such a joy going on this biblical journey with the teens. Where, you know, we were unpacking the Bible. And we were looking at who God really is and what He is really like. And I suppose also trying to get rid of a lot of the things they’ve been taught about God through Hollywood and media. So, yeah, its’s just been such a joy like watching and growing their understanding of Him. But also growing together. Because a lot of them started the journey at the same time. And just seeing them growing their faith continuously and growing their understanding. And even growing in their Bible skills, like their Bible handling skills. It’s great.
Blaque: That’s pretty dope man. I think, like I said at the beginning when I asked that question, that I would assume what your greatest joy is. Cause I know, I think, just your philosophy of ministry. And I think seeing lost teenagers come to know Jesus is why I have worked with you over the years. And I value just the partnership that we have as we serve our teenagers in our province. So, that’s pretty dope man. And I think the way you do ministry is very refreshing for the times that we find ourselves in now. I know, just before the lockdown was announced, there was a conference that you had been planning. You did it previously, and you were doing it again this year called Equip. Care to explain what Equip is, and what the purpose of Equip is?
Equipping Parents to Disciple Their Kids
Jason: So, I think in order to answer that question properly, I’m gonna have to start right at the beginning with where the idea came from. So, towards the end of 2017, I decided to pick up a book that I hadn’t quite finished. So, I’m not great, I’m not great with reading and I’m trying to improve! But the book I was reading was your first two years of youth ministry by Doug Fields. And I was reading a section on the importance of parents and the role of parents in youth ministry. And I was really struck by what He has to say, and his, sort of his outlook, on the role of parents in your youth ministry.
There’s more to youth ministry than just teenagers and youth.
Because a lot of us think that youth ministry is about the youth. Youth ministry is about the teenagers. And it’s not that it’s not about them, but I think there’s more to youth ministry than just teenagers and youth. And, yeah, I started thinking if we were to build a partnership with parents, how much would that help? How much would it help if a parent instead of, saying, “you’re not going to youth tonight because you failed a test.” The parent is like, “actually you need to go to youth because it’s better for you that you go”. How great would it be if because parents knew us, and knew the ministry we were doing and knew the impact it was having, like encouraged their teens to constantly be going to youth – and to church.
Bridging the Generation Gap
And I just think that I realised that there was a much bigger role that parents had to play in discipleship and in ministry. As much as that may sound obvious – maybe people listening to this now are thinking like, “how did you not think of that?” And, agreed! I am sorry for not thinking about it! But we are on a journey. And I think… the more I looked at parenting today and the more I thought about what would be the obstacles parents had in discipling, I actually felt for the parents. Because I think, in this generation, it’s a lot harder to be a parent than it was generations before. Technology is changing the way that we as humans operate.
When you give them a cellphone, you’re not just giving them easier access to you as a parent, you are giving them access to the internet.
You think the access that you give a young person when you give them a cellphone. You’re not just giving them easier access to you as a parent, you are giving them access to the internet. which is giving them access to so many things. I mean, when I was 11 years old, I didn’t have a voice. Figuratively. You know, I couldn’t go on Facebook and share my opinion on something. I couldn’t go on Instagram and share a picture of whatever. Because my Nokia didn’t do that. You know? I think when I was 11 phones were only just starting to play music, off the phone. It was early days! And I just realised that there is a massive gap generationally between teenagers and their parents today. And possibly the biggest gap that has ever existed between teens and parents. Because of social media. Because of, I mean, all this access to the world.
It got me thinking about how can we as a youth ministry partner better with parents to make them feel more comfortable in these ministries? How do we help parents know that ministry is not as difficult as it seems? And connecting with your teens is not that difficult? You know teens, okay they are difficult, but they are not expecting a lot from parents. And I think that’s where the idea sort of came from, was, okay, you know, there is a gap. That in our ministry we are not helping and encouraging parents. So how do we do that? And it was from that that I got the idea of Equip. And I think things like, there’s the main purpose of Equip which is to obviously Equip parents for ministry at home. That’s really the main purpose. To equip parents for ministry at home.
But there were almost, like, sort of smaller purposes within that. You know, we want to be engaging with parents. We want parents to know that we are an active youth ministry. We want parents to know that they are not alone in their ministry at home. We want parents to have a relationship good enough with myself as the youth pastor, and the leadership team, that they can know that they can phone us at any point and ask us any questions. You know “my teen is currently going through those, how do I walk them through this?” And I thought a conference where we could all come together and do this together will be a great way to do that.
And I don’t think the teens appreciated me doing it because I got their parents on Instagram and stuff! It was really funny. Like, we set up a WIFI network in our hall and we got the parents to all download Instagram and set up their own accounts. But it was a lot of fun. And I think… I think the parents realised that, you know, because of social media, if you’re not mistering and doing ministry at home and discipling at home, the world is going to teach your kids all the things that you want them to be taught – before you can.
Don’t Leave it to the World
For example, on sex. You know? The world will teach your – not even your teenagers – before they are teenagers – they are taught about what sex is. And I think social media and the internet has only accelerated that. So, to parents, how are you being active in discipleship and sitting your child down and saying, let’s have this discussion? And I know it’s awkward. But that’s just one example that we gave. And I think the whole purpose of it was, yes, to equip parents to do ministry at home better, but also to partner with parents so they don’t feel alone in all of it.
if you’re not discipling at home, the world is going to teach your kids all the things that you want them to be taught – before you can.
And I think the biggest thing for me was realising that as the youth pastor, I’m spending 3 to 4 hours a week with the teens on a Friday. The parents are with them, I don’t know how many hours a week. They’re with them every day! The best person to disciple a child or a teenager is the parent. Because they are with them every day. I should be there to facilitate the process and to assist where possible. And obviously to be an avenue where teens can come and share things, that you know, maybe they are not comfortable with with their parents. But parents have a much bigger role in discipleship than I think I realised at the time. And yeah, that is where Equip came from. How do we work with parents to disciple young people?
Establish Christian Culture in Your Home
Blaque: Thank you so much man for that. Like, it was pretty dope how you say it. It’s their ministry. So it just puts the ball in their court. And being a parent myself, and obviously my kid is like a year old, you know? But I think it starts now. I don’t have to wait for them to turn 13 for me to start discipling them. I have to start now so that by the time they are teenagers as well, it is a part a of the culture here at home. And just how things are done. You know what I mean? And I think a lot of parents don’t realise that kids kind of catch on to what they do more than what they say. You know what I mean? So, if you’re not exercising your own faith in the household, then teenagers think, “well this is not a Christian home”. You know? “Christian church or Christianity, is what we do when we get to Christ Church Sandton. But not, not here at home”. You know what I mean? So, it’s super dope that you kinda put it that way. And it’s encouraging.
So, when the President did announce lockdown, what were your initial thoughts concerning Equip? Cause you were obviously in the midst of preparations for that.
Youth Ministry Under Lockdown
Jason: I will be honest and say that Equip was probably one of the last things that I thought about! Not ’cause it’s not important, but I think immediately my first thought was “how’re we gonna continue discipling our teenagers through this time?” Because a lot of them don’t have access to, you know, they don’t have tons of data. And most of them are on WhatsApp bundles. So, it’s not like we can send out You Tube links or stream our services online – or anything like that. So, I think it was just thinking like, how can we lovingly disciple them without, you know, abusing their data! And so, that was my first thought, I was like, “how are we going to do youth ministry in this time?”
The second thought was, how are we gonna do Church? Like how was this gonna work – video wise – ’cause we were still trying to wrap our heads around like putting videos together. And what’s that gonna look like? And what the service structure should be. So, my first thoughts were along the lines of actually day to day ministry for youth and for the Church. I think it was a day or two later when we had the discussion around Equip that decided that it is cancelled for now. But, once Church kinda reopens and things kind of, I suppose, become as normal as possible, in this time, we’ll have the discussion of… 1. Whether we still wanna have Equip this year, or 2, are we just gonna cancel it. And what we’ll probably have to do is look at the Church calendar, and just, I suppose ask the question of will it be beneficial for the Church to have this event now. Because there are other events planned for later on in the year. So, we obviously wanna respect those events. And, yeah, I really do hope that we can have Equip again. Because, I mean, you myself and Lester we had a discussion around the things that we were gonna chat about. And I really like the content that we had decided to look at. And I’m really excited to share it with the Church. And I mean just hearing what the parents are struggling with, the topics we had decided on, were really gonna be beneficial. So, I’m disappointed. And I was disappointed when that happened. But I think immediately my concern jumped to like every day ministry. And, yeah, we’ll have a look at it. Obviously, I would love to have Equip still. But we’ll just have to see what the calendar looks like by the time we get back to opening our church doors again properly. And I think even then it’ll probably be like a month after Church is open, that we’ll be able to sit down and say, “okay, are we gonna do this”. So, I’m not too bumped because I do think that we will have it, but obviously…. It would have actually been ideal if we’d had it just before lock down. Like, “cool, you guys have 6 weeks to go and practice.”
Discipling your Teen: Taking the Plunge
Blaque: In fact we were chatting earlier on, and you said that, like this is actually, it’s not all that bad. You know, that we have the lockdown. Cause then it is time for parents to actually get their hands dirty with discipleship at home. With their teenagers. You know what I mean? So, you probably alluded to it earlier on. But do you wanna just tell us what the importance of home discipleship is? And then can you probably run us through some practicals for parents, of how to do it. Especially during lockdown.
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… You’ve been called to that ministry
Jason: So, I think again just a reminder to parents. If God has given you… if you have a child in your house at this point, you are a children’s worker. And 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 it’s vital… I think discipleship in the home is vital. In fact, it would make our youth ministry gatherings, we have it on a Friday and different churches have it on different days. But it would make our ministry a lot easier if parents were discipling at home.
But How Do I Do Discipleship?
To answer the first part of the question, it’s incredibly important that there is discipleship going on at home. And I think, in this time, or I suppose now but also going forward, the best way for parents to be doing that – and to be getting it going – is to just take the plunge. You know? 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.” Just be yourself and be relational. Ask them how their day is going, 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 over think it. Just be yourself and allow questions. What I mean by “be yourself” is be relational.
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 down and we say, “don’t ask those questions”, or like “oh what you think you’re clever?” That doesn’t work well with discipleship.
And 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?” And 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 for saying, “hey I wanna take your question seriously so, I’m gonna go and I’m gonna do research on this one and give you the best possible answer.” So, don’t feel threatened by questions.
Use the Material from Church
So, I think in the time of lockdown specifically, like, parents need to be encouraging their teenagers and their children to be getting into the material. And that doesn’t necessarily mean, like, going up to them and pointing your finger at them and saying, “are you doing the stuff your youth pastor is sending out?” Or being over firm. But you can ask questions that encourage them to do whatever is being sent out. Or to go through whatever is being sent out. Go to them and say, “hey. Is your youth pastor sending anything out to you guys?” And they say, “yeah, yeah. They are doing daily devotionals.” “Okay cool, what was today’s devotional about?” Or “what did you think about today’s devotional?” Or “what challenged you with today’s devotional?”
Ask those, almost like prodding questions that encourage them to go and do the material. And if they say, “yeah. I actually haven’t done it yet.” Don’t freak out and say, “well you better go and do it!” Just say, “well would you mind doing it and then come and share your thoughts with me? I would love to hear what it was about”. Just show that keen interest in that.
So, another way that the parents can do it in this lockdown period is just actively going and asking their teens about the material that is being sent out. Encourage them towards the material that’s been sent out. I know a lot of youth workers and guys involved in ministry who are working incredibly hard to get content out to the churches. So, the material is there. And I think it would be great if parents encouraged their teens towards the material. And yeah. I think those are things I’d really encourage with regards to discipleship at home.
Blaque: Anything that parents could steal from your youth program that you perhaps do on a Friday?
Blaque: I’m saying is there anything that parents could probably just adapt from your program on Friday?
The Importance of Worshiping together
Jason: I think the one thing that I will say is that music is incredibly important to teenagers. And I know in our youth ministry program, one of the things we’ve noticed is that the praise and worship is like one of their favourite slots. And I’m not saying it’s the be all and end all. But music is a big part of teenagers’ lives. And, I mean, Blaque you would know best of all how music influences people. I mean you can actually see it. When teenagers are listening to certain artists or certain types of music, they speak like that. They try and be like those guys or those girls. And I think it’s a great opportunity, as well, to be pointing young people towards artists who are Christians and who are leading us in worship.
When teenagers are listening to certain artists or certain types of music, they speak like that. They try and be like those guys or those girls.
And parents, I mean, one of the greatest things you can do is actually say to them, you know, “why don’t you sit down and show me 3 or 4 of the songs you sing at youth? I’d love to hear what you guys sing. And maybe we can do praise and worship together like that?” It may be awkward, you know, playing it through the TV or something, and you just standing there singing! It might be awkward. But it is a great opportunity to encourage them towards that music. And to be worshiping together. I think… I think children and parents worshiping together is such an important thing. And unfortunately, because we’ve almost split, you know, children and youth and adult church, we’ve made those divides, it’s a lot more difficult to see that actually happening.
This is a great time for parents and children to be worshiping together. So, encourage them to be listening to worship music and to be worshiping to that music. And yeah, just sitting down and maybe parents say, “hey why don’t we have a youth evening on Friday? We have youth group in a way. So, we’ll listen to a couple of songs and then we’ll sit down and we’ll go through the Bible together.” Or “we’ll work through whatever your youth pastor has sent out.” Yeah, just encourage that pattern.
Keeping the Momentum Post-Lockdown
Blaque: That’s good bro. And just thinking for the future, you know, post lockdown. Whenever that will be. I don’t know how other countries in Africa are doing it. But I know for us, our President gave us various levels. So, they would announce to say, we are at level 5, level 4, 3, 2, 1. And each level, obviously, has its own regulations. But lockdown is not officially over for as long as we have those different levels. But… and I think with that said, like for me, I’m like maybe we’ll be under soft lockdown for the rest of the year. And then we’ll see how next year is.
But for as long as we’re under lockdown, I think some of the tips that you’ve given parents are pretty dope and they can implement those, and use them. But post-lockdown, when we kinda get back to “our normal lives”, my fear is that a number of us parents will get back to, “Yo. We’re grinding. We’re working, bababa!” And all the good habits that we would have established during this time of lock down will be threatened, and we’ll throw those away. Because now we’re getting back to work, we’re getting back to our meetings, we’re travelling again. Whatever the case. So, how would you encourage a parent now, I think, just sell them your dream, your vision, that even post-lockdown, they look forward to that vision and dream. And don’t lose all the good things that God would have started with them now. And that they would have started in their families as well?
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.
Jason: Well, I mean, in all things that are I suppose like really good but hard, a good example is gym. Momentum is vital. And this is a great time to be able to get the ball rolling with your discipleship at home. But when things go back to normal and lockdown is completely lifted. And we’re allowed to hug each other at youth and at Church again and we can shake hands! You know, basically as you said, life goes back to “normal”. So, I think there will be a new normal. But you as parents, your goal should be to build up that momentum. To follow through. And don’t stop. When life goes back to normal don’t stop. ‘Cause now again it’s the youth pastors’ job – because he can do the job again. It’s not! It’s a great opportunity to get the ball rolling now for post-lockdown. To be just as intentional.
And 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 to come home, 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 say, “how is your day? How did school go? How, you now, 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.
The Dream for Parents and Teens
I think the vision post-lockdown is to see parents invested in the spiritual lives of their teenagers and their children. The vision – and that’s ultimately the goal of Equip – is to see parents doing ministry. We wanna see parents actively involved in the discipling of their teenagers and their children. To see parents invested in the spiritual wellbeing of the children. And I think added to that, the vision as well, post-lockdown, is to see youth workers and youth pastors, and children’s workers, working way better relationally with the parents as well.
In fact, this lockdown is a great opportunity to build a relationship with the youth pastor at your Church. And I suppose if there’s any youth pastors listening to this, like this is a great time to be focusing on your relationships with parents. So that post-lockdown you guys have a good relationship already established. And you could even consider having like a small parenting conference after lockdown. Where you touch base with all the parents and thank them for their involvement and their hard work throughout the period of lockdown. And, you know, “it’s been so great to know you guys at the time”. But really, almost like establish and solidify your relationship with them straight after lockdown.
the vision post-lockdown is to see parents invested in the spiritual lives of their teenagers and their children.
Because I think that should be the vision of every youth ministry. To be discipling teenagers and parents. And also walking the journey of, you know, walking that spiritual journey with teenagers and parents. And yeah, I think ultimately the vision for teen discipleship in the home post-lockdown is, parents invested in the spiritual wellbeing of their children. And parents and youth workers and children’s workers working a lot more closely. To make sure that our young people are looked after and well discipled and well cared for, within the church and in their homes.
Blaque: Pretty dope man. That’s great bro. That’s like proper change right there. And I know, as a parent listening – or rather, I’m here as a parent – and I’m encouraged myself. And there might be parents out there listening and they are like, “Yo man. We like what you’re saying. We’re encouraged. We wanna get into it and get stuck in.” You know? But on the other hand, there’s definitely an overwhelming sense, like, “this might just be too big for me. I don’t know how this is gonna work, I don’t know what my kid is gonna think. Tadadada.” So, I think, just as a last word, how could you encourage parents, who probably have started the process of discipling – but are just struggling. Or maybe they’re thinking about it and it’s been an ongoing thing between them and God in their hearts and heads. But they haven’t actually implemented it in their households. What would be your encouragement to them?
Encouragement for Parents
Jason: So, I think first of all my encouragement to the parents who have started is, good job and don’t stop. You may be feeling like, “I’m not doing a great job at this”. But I think from my personal outlook, in the church, I think there’s a lot more parents not discipling at home than there are parents who are. So, to those of you who have started and are doing it – good job! You are doing an awesome job. And keep going – don’t stop. But if you feel like you hit a brick wall, you know, there’s a question you can’t answer, or you’re not sure what book to do next. Or you feel like you’re not connecting as well as you could with your teenager, phone your youth pastor at your church. Give them a call.
There’s a lot more parents not discipling at home than there are parents who are. So, to those of you who have started and are doing it – good job!
Phone the children’s worker. Maybe even speak to your pastor and say, like “we’re trying, this is what we’re trying to do, this is how we’re trying to do it. Do you have any tips, do you have some feedback for me? Do you have some material to work through?” A lot of people in ministry have material that they’ve done in Bible studies that’s now just sitting in their offices, on their shelves. They’ll be more than happy to hand you a book, sort of guiding you through a book in the Bible. They’ve got questions. There’s tons of material. But I will tell you, as a youth pastor, if a parent ever phoned me and said “hey, I really need help, I wanna disciple my children better at home. How can I do that?” I will be over the moon, and I will do everything in my power to help you. It would be… I don’t think there’s a youth pastor in the world that would hate that kind of a phone call!
And so, if you are a parent and you have started with discipleship at home, keep going. You’re doing a great job. And, yeah, speak to people. You’re not alone in this. You don’t have to be alone. And I mean you can even find a close person in the church, maybe family friend. You can phone them and say, “hey. This is what I’m doing, how do you guys disciple at home?” And it’s a great way for parents to be holding each other accountable as well.
Keep Going – It will get Less Uncomfortable
To the parents who haven’t started yet, I do acknowledge that it is a huge step and it can be incredibly intimidating. Especially with teenagers. They can be difficult at times. But I just wanna say go for it. Just go for it. Take the plunge. The first 10 to 12 days will probably be quite uncomfortable and difficult. But you’ll find that as you do it, the more you do it, the more comfortable you will be with your child as you’re working through the Bible – and the more comfortable they’ll be with you. So, don’t stop just because it feels like it’s not going well. Keep pushing and keep trying.
the more you do it, the more comfortable you will be with your child as you’re working through the Bible – and the more comfortable they’ll be with you.
The other thing is, allow for questions. I wanna encourage parents to allow for questions. Often when a young person asks a question, we think it’s that they are doubting what’s true. Or they are actually questioning the truth behind it. And sometimes that is true. But, more often than not, it’s just the teenager saying, I wanna know more and I’m really struggling with this. So, allow for questions and again, I think I said it earlier on, you can always go back and say, “look – I don’t know the answer, but I’m gonna do some research and get back to you.” And the teens will love that.
Relationship is the Key
And finally, the key thing, and I wanna encourage all parents with this, is relationship. In our youth group, I personally used to be very program orientated. I’m not proud of it. And in fact, back then if you asked me if I was program orientated, I would have said no. But at one point I was very program orientated. And we sort of then shifted to focus a lot more on relationships. And the difference that that made in our ministry at Revive Youth Group is unbelievable. And I definitely wanna say, “parents, relationship is the key to all of this.”
If there’s no relationships, there’s no discipleship.
Beware of Screen-time
And just on that note, I wanna say that I think screens can be the enemy in this situation. Teenagers and young people can’t seem to get off their phones. And I noticed that older people – parents and even grandparents, like the TV is their go to. The screen is your enemy. So, you know, encourage, when you guys are sitting down to read the Bible together – or even just if it’s not reading the Bible together. You’re saying, “actually I just wanna spend some time with you guys as family”, please, turn off the TV. Ask them to put their phones away. Then sit and talk to each other. And genuinely ask – ask one another “how was your day? How’s work going? How’s school going? How are you feeling? What are some of the things that are bugging you at the moment?”
And again, the first couple of days, that will be really awkward. You will feel like the conversation is not going anywhere. But over time, as you break down those walls, you will… you will see an improvement in that. And I think I’ve said it to you previously Blaque, one of the biggest things for me is that, if there’s no relationships, there’s no discipleship. And I think screens can be the enemy of discipleship. Because they mess with the family dynamics and they mess with the family relationship. And I will say, that if there’s no family relationship, to get that discipleship going is gonna be incredibly difficult. In fact, it would be virtually impossible.
Know Your Disciples
And if you look at Jesus’ ministry, His ministry revolved around relationships. He knew His disciples. And that’s what I wanna encourage parents to do: know your disciples. And care for them. Love them. Show them that you love them. But if there are things in your house that are obstacles with regards to relationship, you should consider… not necessarily getting rid of them, but definitely reducing the amount of time spent with those things. And that could be your work. It could be screen time. It could be a hobby that you have, that on the weekend when you are home that hobby takes you out – and you’re not spending time with your family. If you wanna be doing discipleship right, you have to focus on relationships.
When you get back home, from your 9 to 5, that’s when your real job starts.
Blaque: That’s pretty dope man. I dig how you put it bro. Compromised family time, or compromised relationship, is compromised discipleship bro. That’s epic. Bro, it’s certainly been a pleasure just to hear you drop some gem, give us wisdom and how God has been working through you and your ministry. And how He’s equipped you to just share what you’ve learnt with us bro. That’s super dope. And I thoroughly trust that parents who are listening to this are encouraged. And that after this podcast – as you said – they will definitely get their hands dirty and get into the work of discipleship. In fact, Paul Washer once said that when you get back home, from your 9 to 5, that’s when your real job starts. So, what you do at the office is your side hustle. It’s not your main job. But when you get home, if you have kids, if you have a spouse, that’s when your real job starts. You know what I mean? Because you have to disciple.
Jason: Trust Paul Washer to say that. So, that’s so true, and I think priorities are a big part of it. I think a lot of us prioritise our work and our career over our spiritual life. And we do that to ourselves, and to our loved ones.
Blaque: Bro, so with that said, thank you so much man. And thank you for listening wherever you are listening from. We are praying for you. We are praying for the leadership of Africa. We are praying for the leadership of the world. That God will bless our leaders as they step up to help us during this time, with this pandemic that has obviously influenced a lot of our lives. And impacted a lot of our lives. So, with that said, hopefully you will get into the dirty work of discipleship at home with your kids and your teenagers. We really appreciate you tuning in. And please, follow us on all our social media. Follow us where you can find us. And listen to other podcasts that we’ve done. We’ll be doing podcasts, specifically for Corona in this lockdown time, just to help us through as God guides us through this pandemic that we’re in. So, thank you so much for listening. J-bro, thank you so much again man.
Jason: Awesome, thanks for the opportunity.
Blaque: Grace and peace bro.