Community, Touch

Parents in Youth Ministry

I ONCE VISITED A YOUTH MINISTRY in Seattle on the invitation of Gene, an American youth pastor. Entering the foyer, I was surprised to see a white-haired man in his 60s manning the Youth Ministry’s information counter. Another in his 40s walked past me carrying a cup of coffee as he headed towards a group of young people to chat with them.

Soon after, I realised there were many adults “hanging out” with the youths, and many were parents, and even grandparents of the teenagers, who have been serving in the Youth Ministry as ushers, befrienders and cell group leaders. Despite their age, they still “roughed” it out with the youths at camps.

Gene shared with me that getting these parents involved was not easy in the beginning. Not surprisingly, there was opposition from the youths. However, it has since become such a “culture” that now, the youths “volunteer” their parents to serve.

My experience of parents’ “involvement” in youth ministry up to that point had not been encouraging. I remember how disdainful I felt when parents showed up in the middle of a youth camp to collect dirty laundry so their children would not have to lug heavy bags home on the last day. (Of course, we were blessed with sumptuous suppers sponsored by these generous parents as well.) I had also become very guarded against parents due to some unpleasant encounters, and viewed their questions and opinions with suspicion.

But I was inspired by Gene’s example and started to think about involving parents more constructively.

Thankfully, my discipleship group in church had an interesting mix of parents with children of varied ages. ey shared about their struggles and overcoming differences with their children, while I shared about mine (albeit not my children). As we grew to respect each other’s roles in nurturing the next generation, I realised that parents can be one of our best allies in the ministry. Parents are the next best spokesmen for the ministry, after youths. When they know and understand what we are doing to help their children grow spiritually, they will champion and even defend new initiatives introduced. We took time to share with parents through “meet-the-parents” sessions, as well as ad-hoc one-on-one chats. Having parents of teens serve in the ministry also provided platforms for mutual encouragement between parents. I am grateful for those who came forward to pair with youth (who had just completed their A levels) to lead the new Secondary One cell groups. The young ones benefit from the youthful zeal of an older brother / sister and are able to connect more easily with them. But they also profit from the mature counsel of an “aunty”/ “uncle”, and the stability of their faithful presence each week. Youths open up to these uncles and aunties when they find it difficult to share with their parents. A beautiful friendship is also forged between the adult and youth leader as they minister and pray together for the group and for one another.

Not every parent is cut out for the Youth Ministry. I have had my fair share of successes and failures in placing adults in the ministry, often because we get so desperate for more workers. Nevertheless, the fruit of the generations coming together in worship and ministry makes the challenges and sacrifices all worthwhile.

Judy Foo is Director of Go Centre at Youth With A Mission (YWAM), an international Christian missionary organisation. Prior to this, she served as a Youth Worker in Bedok Methodist Church for 12 years.


Pentecost MC member wins Healthcare Humanity Award

MS PAULINE WEE CHAI KEE, a member of Pentecost Methodist Church, is one of the recipients of this year’s Healthcare Humanity Award.

She received the award from President S. R. Nathan at NTUC Centre Auditorium on May 24, 2010 (picture above).

The award aims to recognise and honour exemplary healthcare professionals who have displayed courage, selflessness, extraordinary dedication, compassion and humanity in their fields.

Ms Wee, who is the Assistant Director of Nursing at KK Women’s Children Hospital, is known to be warm and caring, and never fails to put people at ease with her smile and friendly disposition. She often goes the extra mile to care for her patients and to assist her staff when the wards are busy.

In her own time, the mother of two and grandmother of six supports the hospital’s helpline service and helps to raise funds and organise activities for the Women’s Cancer Support Group.

She serves as the Coordinator for Outreach and Social Concerns of the Trinity Annual Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service (TRAC WSCS) and has been actively engaged in the social and support activities for the poor and the needy.