13 Mar 2020

5 Questions Parents Can Ask Their Kids About Coronavirus

By |2020-03-13T08:27:44-07:00March 13th, 2020|Leadership, Parents|4 Comments

With the headlines and news reports regarding COVID-19 or coronavirus, it’s easy for anxiety and fear to set in. Chances are that your students are worried about what’s going on. They have questions and feelings they don’t know how to process 

As you continue to minister to students through technology in the coming days, don’t forget about the parents. Parents probably have questions and feelings that they are processing too, so show grace and love to them as well.  

As the primary faith trainer, parents can leverage the headlines for discipleship and you can set them up with a win. Here are five questions you can give parents to encourage conversations for discipleship. 

  1. Who do we trust?  

We trust the Lord. He is on his throne and no matter what is going on around us we put our trust of Him. He is faithful and true. He is not surprised by any of this and we trust Him. Ask your kids, “Who do we trust?” Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” No matter what happens in the days ahead, Jesus remains the same.   

  1. Are you afraid of what’s going on? 

Asking this question may get a simple answer of “No” and that’s ok.  Let it pass and do not insight fear into your kids but if they say anything else, have the conversation. Talk about what they are afraid of, what they are hearing and what they think is happening. You don’t have all the answers, sometimes just verbalizing our fears gives us hope that they do not control the situation. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” Jesus is the giver of peace. Help your kids see this peace in the middle of fear.     

  1. What can we do for those affected?  

This is a great opportunity to pray. Pray for those who are sick and for those in the medical field working hard to find a solution to this problem. Pray for a cure, an antidote to the COVID-19. We can also talk about all the families who may have lost a loved one around the world. If you have younger kids, they may not understand this, but for those who are older, this is a great time to talk about grief and the hope we have in Jesus. Psalm 62:5 says, “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” We can rest in our hope.     

  1. What should we do?  

This one is easy, follow the rules that the CDC has told us to follow. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face and sneeze into your arm. What we can do from our homes is pray. Again, this is a great opportunity to teach your kids about prayer and the power of prayer. Prayer is an invitation to go to the Lord on behalf of others, it is also a way to posture our hearts to rely on the Lord. 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” We serve a God that not only loves us but he also hears us. Help your kids know that the Lord hears their voice.  

  1. Did you know that Mom/Dad is __________________? 

Use discretion on this conversation. Know your kids and what they can handle. One of the best ways to open lines of communication is to find common ground. Chances are, you have questions and feelings about what is going on. Open up with your kids, things like “Did you know that dad is worried about the stock market?” Honestly, I am worried about the financial ramifications of all of this, so I can share my thoughts and feelings. This may not apply to every kid, but letting your guard down lets your kids know they are not alone. On this one, we can point our kids back to the first question, who do we trust?  

Who do we trust?   

May this be our mantra throughout the coming weeks. May we rest and know that Jesus is king and help our kids see years from now that in the middle of this, mom and dad trusted in Jesus. 

Bobby is a Discipleship Pastor in Katy, TX. He loves pouring into the next generation and their parents to build lifelong followers of Jesus.

He loves his wife and three blue-eyed kids, great BBQ and the outdoors.

17 Jan 2020

Generation Gap Game at Parent Night

By |2020-01-16T10:28:04-08:00January 17th, 2020|Games, Mariners Youth Ministry, Parents, Teaching/Programming, Youth Ministry Ideas, Youth Pastor Life|11 Comments

So this game just absolutely crushed last night! Generation Gap was a huge hit for our parents, they loved  knowing half of the answers because they were from their generation and were about flat stumped when we asked a question that today’s teenager would know. I want a sequel to this one! If you haven’t used it yet … almost guaranteed success. So fun!

Here is a great screen game to test the most retro students and the most hip adults! Get a team of students and a team of adults (or one of each) and see if they can name the popular item from the other person’s generation. The students must name popular things from the 80’s and 90’s, while the adults must name things from today’s student culture. It’s a great game to get adult leaders involved, or to play at a parent night!


27 Jul 2017

The 4 Types of Students on Every Mission Trip

By |2017-07-27T09:48:32-07:00July 27th, 2017|Parents, youth mission trips|2 Comments

Trying to teach your students to be missional? Helping them live out their faith both here at home or around the world? Good for you! Well, before your next mission trip – heed this warning – there are only 4 types of teenagers that go on mission trips. See if you can recognize them in their habitat:

NOTE: If you’re bold, you could even print out and frame this article, then attach individual names to where they belong with Post-It notes. You’re welcome in advance for this idea!

I’m Just There for the Instagram
Ah yes, the social media picture hunter. They will endlessly pursue the perfect picture of them laughing playfully, surrounded by kids of a different skin color, allowing the spotlight to literally be on them and not their mission. They potentially will contribute very little to the trip, but will take enough pictures to fill Throwback Thursdays for the next decade. #missiontrip #iwanttogoback

The Souvenir Hunter
This is a mission trip? I’m just here to bargain shop the street vendors. This student becomes an expert and bartering and tries to haggle with the airport barista at Starbucks™ on the way home, too. They have a list of people they need to shop for which absolutely consumes them and in some cases even brought an extra suitcase for their haul. Which is good because now they’ll have a chance to negotiate the extra bag fee at the airport check-in counter.

The “All in” Christian Kid
There’s an overzealous Christian kid on every youth group trip. He or she will bring their Bible in a protective case to everything and make other students feel guilty for not doing the same. They hold up the vans to pray over someone. Actually, now that I describe them, they don’t sound so bad after all. I wish I had a couple of these in my youth group. Why do all my students want to just take pictures and buy stuff?

The Kid Who Will Remember this Trip Forever Because of the Life Change They Experienced
OK, so we’re obviously having a bit of fun here. The prayer for all our students, even if they come just for the pictures or souvenirs or whatever their motivation is – is that they would experience life-change brought about by our Savior Jesus Christ. Mission trips local and global are a powerful tool in our ministry to students.

In fact, just recently my wife and I got to welcome our son home Austin in the airport and it was incredible. 1) He was SO embarrassed by our sign, 2) I’m SO thankful for people who believe in him and helped fund his trip. It WAS life-changing and one he’ll remember forever.

You can’t help but laugh inside just a little bit when you see a student going all in on pictures with their $5,000 DSLR Canon camera. In the slums. With gear that would make an aspiring wedding photographer jealous. Or when you see a student with 15 bags of souvenir shopping swag like this was a trip to the mall with a Back to School clearance sale.

Maybe even nudge them just a little bit if it’s too far over the top. But most of all, sit back and enjoy the fact that for many if not all of them – this is a defining trip for their worldview, their faith, their life. And you got to have a little part in leading them to that deeper place. Well done.

OK, now get those sticky notes and get cracking!


21 Jun 2017

How to respond to a nastygram

By |2017-06-21T06:31:08-07:00June 21st, 2017|Parents|12 Comments

A few days after returning exhausted from a week-long mission trip, I woke up to the worst kind of e-mail, a nastygram from a parent chewing me out for a comment made on the mission trip.

Upon reading it, my first thought was “Seriously? I spent a week pouring into your kid and keeping her safe and this is the thanks I get?”

In that moment, I wanted to quit. I wanted to say, “Forget it. I’m done dealing with thankless parents.”

But I didn’t.

Instead, I reread the e-mail. I thought through all the things that in my anger, I wanted to say to this parent. Then I summoned up all the grace I could muster and responded.

Rather than try to convince this parent that I was right and he was wrong, I simply apologized for the problems my comment had inadvertently caused his family. I affirmed him as a parent and reiterated how much I value he and his wife as partners in our ministry.

Then I hit send and filed the e-mail in a folder especially reserved for this kind of nastygram, called “Frustrating e-mails.” Over the years, I’ve found that the act of physically moving an e-mail from my inbox to my frustrating e-mail folder allows me to do something tangible to actually release hurtful e-mails and stop dwelling on them.

I’m willing to bet that I won’t hear more from this parent about this matter.

When a parent sends a hurtful nastygram, they need us to hear what they’re saying. They need some form of validation.

They don’t need us to argue with them. They don’t need to know our rationale for why we behaved the way we did or our justification for saying whatever was uttered.

They simply need an acknowledgement that they’ve been heard and an apology for whatever it is we did or said.

That’s hard… especially since nastygrams trigger real emotions. They make us feel useless. They demean us. Often, they leave us feeling wronged, as though something we did or said got taken way out of context. In those instances, we long to defend ourselves, to prove we’re right.

However, it’s not our job to be right all the time. Being right is actually far less important than maintaining and restoring relationships with those involved in our ministries.

So, the next time you receive a nastygram, work to maintain and restore your relationship with the sender. Acknowledge their hurt, apologize for your role in creating it, and hit send.

Sure, that won’t give you the satisfaction that comes from being right. But it will give you something else: An ongoing relationship and the chance to show others the same grace God continually shows you.

20 Dec 2016

One of the Top Culture Blogs for Youth Pastors

By |2016-12-20T14:48:37-08:00December 20th, 2016|Parents|1 Comment


Congrats to the Homeword Culture blog on being ranked in the Feedspot’s Top 30 blogs about youth culture. It is a valuable resource to youth workers – and if you haven’t heard of it yet, head over there to check it out and give it a spin. We’ve been thankful to partner with their content as part of the DYM Newsletter app for members, it is some of the very best stuff out there from a fantastic organization. Congrats!


23 Nov 2016

10 questions to help parents decide whether or not their child is ready for an international mission trip

By |2016-11-23T07:15:24-08:00November 23rd, 2016|Parents|3 Comments

This year my youth ministry is offering two summer mission trips: A domestic trip to a nearby town (that we offer every other year) and an international trip to Haiti.

Some of our families do both trips but others choose only one. We know this. In fact, we say outright that the international trip might not be the right fit for every student in our ministry for a variety of reasons. Whenever a parent asks me whether or not I think their student should participate in our international trip, I ask them these 10 questions:

  1. Has your teen been on a mission trip before? I sometimes require this for international trips. Why? Because previous mission trip experiences enable teens to have an understanding of what to expect; they also give them a framework for the experience they’re about to have.

  2. Does your teen take their faith seriously? It’s okay for mission trip participants to be in different places in their faith. However, they have to take it seriously. They have to know that everything you do will be tied to faith. They have to be willing to grow in their faith and to share it with others.

  3. Are you and your teen willing to make the commitment necessary to prepare for this trip? International mission trips require preparation – spiritual, cultural, financial, and team-building. If you’re not willing to commit to being all-in, then an international mission trip may not be the right fit for you.

  4. Does your teenager enjoy traveling? To go on an international mission trip, a teenager need not have extensive travel experience. However, to flourish on an international mission trip, they should enjoy traveling.

  5. How well does your teen do away from home? Some teens suffer from a great deal of anxiety whenever they’re away from their parents or home for an extended period of time. Teens who thrive on an international mission trip will be able to get by with limited (if any) contact from their parents (or family).

  6. How flexible is your teen? Things WILL go wrong on an international mission trip. Schedules will change. Things will NOT go as planned. If your teen needs to have a carefully controlled schedule in order to function, an international mission trip might not be in their best interest.

  7. Is your teen a picky eater? When teens go abroad, they should expect to eat different foods than they normally do. Teens who are exceptionally picky may find this difficult (and stressful), so much so that it might be difficult for them to stay healthy during the mission experience.

  8. How does your teen handle high-stress environments? Being in a foreign culture where you don’t speak the language and are with a team of people 24/7 is STRESSFUL. To thrive on an international mission trip, teens need to be able to adapt quickly and handle stress in healthy, constructive ways.

  9. Is your teen curious about the world around them? Our God is a God of wonder. Teens who are curious about the world around them want to learn. They listen. They treat people, customs, and places respectfully even if they don’t understand them. Such teens do remarkably well on international mission trips.

  10. How positive is your teen? During the course of an international mission trip, your teen will inevitably get upset. That’s okay. It’s even good. Mission trips evoke emotions. However, teens who thrive on international mission trips don’t stay negative. They choose joy. Doing so buoys not only them, but their team.

Asking parents these questions may be difficult. However, helping families decide whether or not to participate in an international trip is important. In fact, it’s critically important – to both them and the health of your team. An honest conversation now can save everyone a lot of heartache later. By working with families to help them choose the best trip for their student, you will set both them – and your team – up for an incredible encounter with God.

8 Nov 2016

GUEST POST: Partnering with Parents

By |2016-11-08T11:59:32-08:00November 8th, 2016|Parents|0 Comments

Derry is the Student Ministries Pastor at Nappanee Missionary Church and a DYM author. We released 9 of his resources on the site that are specifically geared toward partnering with parents. You can buy all 9 (valued at $50) for a ridiculously cheap $25 in our Parents Superpack.


Partnering with parents… we use this phrase a lot

In our ministry we have historically talked a lot about the importance of partnering with parents. You probably do too, but what do we mean when we say it?

Partnership can take up a lot of forms. For example, consider this fictional man:
Bob Lahblaw is a married lawyer who works in at a major firm and gets together with a college friend 3 times at the gym to work out.

In that short sentence I’ve hit 3 different “partnerships” that are vastly different.
1. As a married man, Bob’s spouse is a partner.
2. In the law firm, he has business partners.
3. In the gym, he has a workout partner.

Can you imagine if Bob started approaching his workout partner in the same way he approached his business partner? Or what if he took the same attitude toward his spouse that he did his workout partner? It wouldn’t be long before Bob would be bankrupt and divorced, right?

Here’s the point. We can say we want to partner with parents, but what does that look like?

In our ministry, we’ve taken some time to do a little DTP (Define The Partnership) so parents are clear in what we are there for AND we can stay on mission. Here are a three core biblical values we are holding to our partnership:

1. Our partnership will be rooted in the GOD THINGS over the GOOD THINGS. In the same way Paul talks to the church in Philippi about their “partnership in the gospel,” the parents of your ministry need a partner who is laser-focused on the spiritual development of their kids. Be that partner! There are a lot of people partnering with parents to develop students academically, athletically, etc. Although some of these teachers and coaches may be Christians, there are limitations on what they can do as well as other motives to the investment. We care about one thing… students encountering an authentic relationship with God. Keep that in mind and make it known!

2. Our partnership puts us in a support role. Deuteronomy 6:4-8 makes a clear statement that parents are to be the primary spiritual authority and investors in their kids’ lives. We are there to support them in their efforts. As we keep this in mind, we may find ourselves stepping back a little when there is a clash of philosophies with parents. As we communicate it with parents, they are reminded that you are not the spiritual dry cleaner left in charge to “straighten their kids out.”

3. The Partnership Model: We are Aaron and Hur to their Moses. Exodus 17 tells this bazaar story of the Israelites fighting the Amalekites. In the battle, the Israelites were winning as long as Moses’ arms stayed in the air with his staff in hand. In order to keep his arms in the air when he got weary, Aaron and Hur came on each side of him and held his arms up. You and I are to be the Aaron and Hur to the parents of our team. When they are growing weary, we can come alongside them through prayer, affirmation and encouragement. Outside of promotion, this is where use social media, texting and email the most.

We also want to equip and empower parents as we partner with them, but the above three are the ones we have sought to focus on and clarify to parents.

Is it time for you to have a “Define the Partnership” in your ministry?

8 Nov 2016

Help! I’m Overreacting to My Teen All of the Time

By |2016-11-07T19:59:20-08:00November 8th, 2016|Parents|1 Comment


Parents! Don’t make the critical mistake of exploding on your teens all of the time. This is a quick way to establish huge walls with them. While sometimes they certainly do things that warrant a good old freak out, under normal circumstances they should be few and far between.

I’ve done youth work for more than 20 years and am in the thick of raising teenagers of my own right now. Here are 3 simple, guiding principles I hope will help guide you in the future. I’ll be back with a specific article in the near future to unpack each of them, too:

Nudge often. Coach sometimes. Explode rarely.

Nudge often
Your teens need nudging more than anything. A nudge can be a recognition of something or someone good – literally a little kick under the table or slight elbow to increase attention. You hear a particular good point in a movie, give them a budge. They’re about to take a big leap of faith, give them a little nudge. See an example of a good friend or a particularly bad friend? Help them see it more clearly with a little nudge. Effective parents have scores of moments like this throughout the week. These are beautiful, simple moments that make a huge difference while the teenagers hardly notice they are being parented.

Coach sometimes
There’s nothing better than a great coaching moment – these are longer interactions than the quick nudge, where you unpack the behavior that was unacceptable or identify something that was noticed. You coach them to get their homework in even though they’ll get zero points because it builds good will with the teacher. You push them to stick out the cross country season because it teaches them to finish what they start. These type of interactions happen weekly, but be careful they don’t happen too frequently or they could easily degrade into lectures and stump speeches.

Explode rarely
Often times the “go to” reaction of parents, a fiercely passionate parent has its place, but needs to be used rarely to remain effective and not characterize the parental style. My goal is that my teenager feels the urgency of the situation without a full on verbal brawl, but if it has to come to that I will go there. These are reserved moments, that must happen rarely, saved for those life-altering trajectory moments that deserve it.

Take a few minutes and thing about your default reaction. Do you notice those little moments, words or details and nudge often? When there needs to be a little more push, do you coach well? What consequences has the explosion caused in your family? What would you go back and change if you could?

Good stuff to think about as you live out the blessing of raising teenagers!


8 Nov 2016

3 Ways To Leverage The Relationship You Have With Parents

By |2016-11-07T07:58:49-08:00November 8th, 2016|Parents|0 Comments

Are you maximizing the relationship you have with parents?  Or, are they just dropping teens off?  Is the only thing you’ve ever asked them to do is serve or chaperone?  What if there was more?

Parents aren’t just potential volunteers or the occasional obstacle to serving teens.  They are investing in you and your ministry by sending their teens to worship with you.  If utilize that investment correctly it can take you to a new level.  So, before you focus on them as potential volunteers consider these three roles:  (more…)

2 Nov 2016

GUEST POST: 3 Easy Tips for Being Awesome with Parents

By |2016-11-02T05:23:18-07:00November 2nd, 2016|Parents|0 Comments

GUEST POST by DYM Author Eric Ferris

To this day I remain astonished that parents trusted me to take their kids on my first ever missions trip. I was 23 years old and they let me take their kids across the pond to England and Wales.  As a father now with my own kids in middle school and high school, I appreciate what HUGE trust that was!  I still think it was a little nuts.

I went to a Bible College to be trained in youth ministry.  I really appreciate the training I received.  As I look back, there was one class I wish I could have taken.  A class on parents!  Let’s face it, you’ve got be a lot older than the average youth pastor to have personal experience being the parent of a teenager.  Even if you have your first kid at age 20, you’ll be at least 31 before that kid enters your youth ministry. How do you build a bridge to span the decade or two of age and experience gap between the average youth pastor and the parents in your church?

Here are a few golden tips I’ve picked up in the last 20+ years of youth ministry that have helped me build trust and rapport with parents.  I’m not gonna lie, nothing replaces having your own kids in the youth ministry because being able to say “me too” to a parent is powerful. However, just because you don’t have kids of your own in the ministry doesn’t mean you can’t understand, encourage, and equip the parents in your church.

THREE EASY TIPS FOR BEING AWESOME WITH PARENTS (yeah…there’s more, but this is a great start!)

  1. Be a Resource–  I’ve heard youth pastors tell me that they avoid trying to help parents because they don’t have teenagers themselves.  That’s an excuse likely based on insecurity or intimidation.  Don’t cop out.  You don’t have to have personal experience to be a resource.  You likely know more than you think you do. Give yourself some credit!  Plus, sometimes not being wrapped up in a situation emotionally (like most parents are because they love their kids) makes your objectivity helpful. Take time to listen to parents.  You may not be able to give great advice, but anyone can listen.  Here’s the tip:  Identify your five “go to” parenting books to which you can refer parents.  There’s lots of good ones out there.  By doing so you’ll help parents, communicate care, and build trust.
  2. Be on Time–  Do you know what annoys me more than anything else as parent?  Waiting in my car for my kids.  When a coach says practice ends at 6:30p, they should end at 6:30p. When a band trip is supposed to return to the school at a certain time, they should be back at that time.  Do I sound like a curmudgeon?  I promise that this is how most parents feel waiting in the church parking lot.  Parents are busy juggling the schedules of multiple humans in their house.  You care for families when you don’t waste their time.  Here’s the tip:  Be militant about dismissing your programs on time and pad your trip schedule to have more time than you need to return to the church.  Better to return early and the  kids wait for the parents than vice versa.  In the rare case that your trip is getting back late, get those kids on their phones to give parents a warning. There are likely dozens of GPS’s on that bus or in those vans, so you should be able to pinpoint an arrival time.
  3. Be Clear– Great communication is not super-difficult, but it does take a few extra minutes of thought.  You are doing great if your registration form, email, newsletter, or webpage has very clear info.  Parents have to keep track of lots of stuff (and single parents have it even tougher).  Parents need to know what (details) and why (purpose).  If they are going to pay money and get it on the family calendar, you help them make choices by communicating exactly what an event is meant to accomplish (fun?, outreach?, discipleship?, etc).  Work on being able to communicate the purpose of an event in one sentence.  The clarity you gain is worth the extra effort and will likely make your event better too!  Here’s the tip: Communicate far in advance (farther than you think necessary), communicate often (more often than you think necessary), and pound parents with communication the week leading up to a deadline.  You know how that works…everyone signs up last minute, right?  Parents will appreciate the extra communication as a deadline approaches, not resent it.  Oh..and an extra bonus if you find a parent to edit your stuff so you get a parent perspective on your communication. If you‘re not a parent yourself, you may be surprised what FAQ’s parents will have.

Being awesome with parents makes you super-awesome with students.  It’s not an age thing.  It’s an intentionality thing.  Want an easy way to get better?  Check out the U<60 Parent Resources on DYM to equip yourself and encourage the parents in your church!

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