I have recently finished ReThink, by Steve Wright of Providence Baptist in Raleigh, NC. Of all the books I've read about student ministry thus far, ReThink is one of the best. Wright challenges the current model of student ministry, and argues that student ministry is largely not accomplishing its goal. He begins the book by providing empirical data to support such a claim.
Steve calls youth pastors to return to the Biblical model found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. This text beseeches parents to shepherd their children and to bring them up in the Lord. Youth Ministry, then, is not to take the place of Mom and Dad in the spiritual formation of the student. Rather, we are to be a support system and encouragers to those families.
I agree with Steve Wright's assessment. In my own life, I have been reminded again and again that raising my children in the Lord is my God-given responsibility. I understand that along the way, my children will have pastors who will also point them to Christ. Still, I am challenged to lead my family in the pursuit of God.
As a student pastor, I have a burden to come alongside the families of Ingleside Baptist. I pray that God will give me the passion and the tools to support them as they live out Deuteronomy 6. Our high school pastor shares the same burden for our families.
What would happen if all the student ministers began to see their calling as one of equipping families? What would happen if we put as much time into parents as we did in series planning, or weekend retreats, or (Lord, help us) lock-ins? What would the world be like for our students? I agree with Wright; "it is time to value student development over traditional, event-driven student ministry."