Family Focused Student Ministry – Part 5: Students

Many of the students in our ministries come from broken homes or difficult situations, (not all, but many). Statistically many of them are living with only one parent and have seen divorce. It’s important that I see the big picture of my ministry as a model to these students who need to see how a dad / husband acts and lives. In the same way, many of my students need to see how a mom / wife acts and lives through the example of my wife. Even if students come from great families, it’s vital that my students get the inside scoop to myself, my wife, my kids, and the way we live… Scary thought?

Here’s what I do:

1) Include My Family In My Messages: As much as I can, I try to include stories about my family in my messages. Not only is it a great way for students to get an inside scoop to my family life, it also builds trust and connection with them. It’s so important that my students see me as “human” and someone who has a family and has hopes and dreams for them. When I am talk about my family, I become more vulnerable in front of my students. (This I feel creates greater trust). In addition. when I take time to include my family in my messages, I feel like I am painting a picture of something incredible for my students to look forward to…

2) Include My Family In Ministry: As often as we can, I have my wife and kids stop by our student ministry center (The Warehouse), and check in with me and my students. The girls in my ministry think my kids are cute and the guys laugh at me when I go all “soft” when my kids get there. It’s one of the best feelings when my kids run up and hug me, but I also think it’s helpful for these young adults to see the connection I have with my kids. In addition, my wife, Lisa, helps out with our student leadership program and at our big events.

3) Invite Students Into My Home: This has not been as easy since the birth of our youngest daughter, but is something that we hope to do more. It’s important that students get the inside scoop to my home and family to see how we love and treat each other. It’s also important however, that we set good boundaries on times and days when it is not good to visit too… Sometimes students visit late at night with large amounts of toilet paper and “decorate” our house for us…

4) Teach about Healthy Family: Many students have seen broken families or have been impacted indirectly. I feel it is important to contrast the reality of broken families with God’s Word on families, marriage, and children. Often it’s easy to get caught up with topical issues or the latest happening in youth ministry. However, I think healthy family should be a yearly focus for students…

5) Praise Their Parents: A crucial role to partner with parents and help students to have a healthy view of family is to praise their parents regularly! I feel that a big part of my job as a youth pastor is to help students see the best in their parents and understand how their parents think. Parents are not the enemy, it’s often just the autonomy of students and a disconnect with their parents struggling to let go. Therefore, my job is to praise parents and be a healthy bridge between their kids and understanding each other…

Well that’s all for now. What ways are you helping students have a healthy family focused outlook?

Phil <><

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