In Part 1 I looked at the frustration we have as youth ministers when we watch families drift away and we feel helpless to do anything about it. Christian/Church parents are removing their families from the safety found connected in a local church and exposing their family to the wolves who simply want to devour their lives.
Who are you to judge? I’m not judging. I’ve been working with students and their families for 26 years, I have learned what to look for, I recognize the red flags. More importantly I’m a shepherd my responsibility is to protect those in my care and I’m willing to kill some wolves in the process.
Years ago I worked at a dairy farm and quite often when the cows were calving the coyotes would start coming around. When I saw a coyote I would pick up the rifle and kill the coyote dead. Why? I was responsible to protect those momma cows and their babies.
What are the wolves?
Busy schedules – over booking our family. The family calendar is slammed full.
Finances – when we decide a lifestyle is more important than faith. Couples that argue about finances on a regular basis are 30 more times likely to get a divorce.
Social status – when we pull our family out of the fold to run with the wolves of “Keeping up with the Joneses”
Making memories – when we get devoured by the wolf that says, “go to the beach today and make a memory with your kids.”
Wants – when we as parents pursue the wants and aren’t satisfied with simply having our needs met. In the past 26 years I have watched helplessly as many parents decided to risk their kids with the wolves rather than keep their family safe in the fold and support of their local church.
Why would a believer make this decision to remove their family from the safety of the fold? The Bible often refers to believers, self included, as sheep. Let’s just be honest, we are sheep and sheep aren’t known for their smarts.
How can we help protect families from the wolves?
Pray – Pray for wisdom on how to reach out to the ones who have strayed. Pray for guidance on what too say and do. Pray for boldness, pray for understanding. Pray the one you reach out to is open and receptive to God’s work in their life.
Act swiftly. – When it becomes obvious that a parent has decided that corporate worship and involvement in the church they committed to is no longer important to the faith of their family and children we need to reach out and let them know they are missed. We need to find out what is getting in the way or what the problem might be. Those of us who have been in ministry for any length of time are quick to recognize the smoke screens and the excuses and recognize the actual reason.
Offer Support. – How or what can we do to help your family become faithful in your church once again?
Preventative Measures – Shepherds spot the weak spots in the fold and bolster those weak spots up. How can your church better disciple parents and teach them to disciple their children? Offer classes on time and financial management. If a family is in over their head connect them with a pastor or counselor who can help them sort those things out. Teach parents that some of the best memories a child can care for them through life are memories made connected to the church they committed to as a family.
Teach – The church needs to regularly teach on the spiritual disciplines that help us grow in our faith both individually and as families. Is your church taking time each year in the messages to help parents be better parents, examples and the ones who disciple their children.
Focus – We should go after that sheep that strays. We also have to realize that some have no desire to return to the fold, some never will return. We can’t become so consumed with the ones who have strayed that we neglect the ones who are ready to stay and learn and grow. Some will wait until the wolf has attacked and sunk his fangs into their family and they find themselves in a desperate situation before they will return.
The one wolf that is hard to defeat is apathy. When someone chooses to be apathetic or has allowed themselves to drift to that position of not caring about their faith or stunted spiritual growth there isn’t much we can do. So we must focus on the sheep in the fold, protect, teach and equip them. Continue to help them to find the warmth, safety and protection that is found when a believer is connected to a local church family.
As youth pastors imagine the reach of our student ministry if our church parents were totally committed to the church they committed to be a partner in. Our student ministry would grow and have greater impact. That’s why there is this frustration that exists with parents who just don’t get it. For some parents they were never discipled so they don’t understand what it means to disciple their own child.
Some parents have been lured outside of the fold by “greener grass” and there lurking on the edge of the grass is the wolf waiting for the single alone sheep to get far enough away to attack and destroy that sheep.
The wolves are out there waiting. Protect those God has put under your care.
Click HERE for information on bringing a training to help the parents in your church learn to disciple their children and teens.