Why Parents Matter in Ministry
Data can be revealing and enlightening. The things we thought we knew to be true can be shattered in a single moment with data. And the things we knew in our gut to be true are proven when the data is revealed.
That is what happened to many ministry leaders in 2004, when the first wave of data was released from the National Study on Youth and Religion. Our gut feeling and suspicions were proven as fact.
What was that gut feeling?
I know that is not a life changing or ministry changing epiphany, but maybe it should be.
The NSYR data said (summed up in my own words), that it doesn’t matter how great of a youth ministry program you have at your church, the biggest determinant of whether a youth will be practicing their faith as adults is the modeling by their parents.
What do I mean by this?
It’s simple: As a youth becomes an adult, it is remarkable how similar their faith and their practice of that faith is to their parents. Here is one statistic from the NSYR that allows us to conclude this:
Source: National Study of Youth and Religion: Analysis of the Population of Catholic Teenagers and Their Parents, 2004
Looking at church attendance, we can clearly see that young people attend mass in the same frequency that their parents do. Sometimes, we hear ourselves asking, “Where are the young people?” This data proves that we should be asking a different question: “Where are their parents?”
In light of the data, how should our models of ministry change so that we are working with our parents more effectively?
Many ministry leaders have heard this data, agree with the data, but have not made substantial changes to their model of ministry. This is true for myself as well. I am suggesting that if we really want to be successful in our ministry to youth, then maybe our focus should not be on youth.
Our focus should be on parents.
Change is difficult, but I believe this is a change that is worth making. I am not at all saying that our focus should be solely on parents while ignoring the youth. I am merely recommending that a slight shift of focus towards parents is necessary and warranted.
This article can be found in the October 23 issue of the Valley Catholic.
Posted on October 23, 2012 by nemis