This is the third post in my series “Something to Complain About”. The reality is that lots of youth pastors get to hear parents who complain. These are different than the parents who will walk up to you, offer a suggestion on what you’re doing or, God bless them, offer to jump in, and help solve a very real problem.
The first post was about playing too many games and you can read it here.
The second post was about your Bible study being too shallow. It’s here.
This one is about their student saying they don’t feel like the student ministry is offering them enough skills to share their faith with their atheist friends.
Every week I’m posting in the DYM Facebook community group and asking other youth pastors (especially those veterans of ten or more years) how they would answer each complaint.
Here’s what I would say to a parent who comes to me with this one:
I’m so glad your student has atheist friends!
No seriously, this is great! There are lots of students who get told they can’t have any atheist friends and the fact their student has someone they WANT to share the Gospel with and needs to hear it is awesome.
Now, that said, I might make sure and ask if their students have any solid friends who are also believers. They may not want to share because they have no one to back them up, and that can be daunting.
I promise you we’re talking about the Gospel and how to share it with their friends
I’m about 95% certain you are doing this in your ministry. I’m 100% sure we are. We talk about it about every month in some form or fashion and have an entire small group curriculum solely devoted to the topic. But maybe their student isn’t in small groups? Or missed last month’s Gospel sharing series?
Regardless, this parent says their student doesn’t FEEL equipped. It’s not that you’re not doing it. It’s that the student may not just feel like they could handle your method.
Your kid might genuinely be concerned about losing their friendships
Friends can mean EVERYTHING to a student. And they may have real, genuine fears of losing their friends if they get labeled as “the weird Christian kid”. Now there’s a lot to unpack here. A parent can easily say that faith is more important than friends, and they wouldn’t be wrong. But that isn’t listening to the very real concerns of their student. I’d encourage parents to listen to their student. Help them unpack their fears about being singled out or losing good friends. Ask them if they thought their friends would reject them if they brought up their faith more often.
Let this parent know this is a long conversation and won’t be a “one and done”. But neither should the student’s conversation about Jesus with their friends. It’s more than throwing a Gospel tract in their friend’s faces.
Ask them about how many conversations they’ve had about the Gospel with their own atheist friends. And not posting Jesus pictures on their Facebook walls. Actual, knee to knee, toe to toe, eye to eye conversations. If they are having them and modeling them for their kids, odds are their kids will get it, even if it takes a while.
I wrote a small group series about how to start talking to your friends about Jesu without being awkward. Feel free to check it out if you’re not sure where to start with your students!