Matt Rice here with Beyond the Pew and I wanted to talk to parents today about how they can help their kids bring what happens at youth nights or youth group home. As a dad of a thirteen year old, I actually get pretty frustrated when I ask my son, “Hey, what did you learn at youth group?” And he says, “Nothin’.” Every parent gets that answer. If you have asked that question and gotten that answer, it’s absolutely normal. So I want to set your expectations for what you should expect from your kid.
Here are a few different ways to get a conversation going with your child about youth group:
1. Ask about the talk
No matter who the speaker it, the likelihood you’re going to get the exact talk regurgitated from your kid is nonexistent. There’s no way your kid is going to be able to recite every little point that speaker that night gave. Hopefully, if they are a good speaker, they have one goal or one point for the youth to take away from their talk. So ask your child, “What is one thing that you remember or got out of the talk tonight?” “Tell me one thing that was interesting about the talk or one thing that was really weird.” Make the questions open ended, don’t have them be yes or no questions.
2. Start by asking about the games
Maybe start off easy. Start with something light. If your youth group typically has fun and games, then ask about what game they played. Get them starting to think about the night and talking about the night. And that may be all you get! They might just say, “I had a lot of fun playing soccer.” And then if you ask about the night, they might say they don’t know. That’s going to happen. It’s okay.
3. Ask questions about the people and discussion in small group
If the youth group has small groups, they probably have the same small group every time they meet. At some point you may get to know who is in their small group. I can name one of the kids in my son’s small group and I learned that because I talked to my son about who is in his small group. And as you learn about who is in your child’s small group, you can ask specific questions. How did so and so react to that? Did they say anything funny? What did so and so say in your small group? What did your small group leader have to say about the talk? Different questions like that are ways that you can help bring youth group home that night.
4. Ask if there was a challenge for the week
If it was something like they were given a challenge, it may be something you can help them continue throughout the week. Ask your child, “Hey, is there something they wanted you to do between this Sunday and the next Sunday?” Then ask about how they can remember it or if there is a way you could help them. Then for the duration of the week, remind them of it and ask how it is going!
5. Read the weekly newsletter
I know that for our staff we expect our youth ministers to send out a newsletter every week telling parents what it is they are going to talk about or telling them what they did talk about at the previous youth night. That gives parents the tools to ask questions because they know what the topic is and the newsletter can even provide questions to ask your kids. Read the newsletter and ask those questions!
If your youth group doesn’t send out a newsletter, be that parent that doesn’t necessarily gripe about it but that might offer up their time. Try to find a solution. Tell your youth minister you would like to know what is being talked about at youth night and let them know if you could help them write a newsletter. You could be the parent helping other parents engage their kids in the youth ministry.
This is Beyond the Pew and know that we will be praying for you! God bless!