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  Summer 2015
  Vol. 20 • No. 2
Please photocopy or email  
to all your youth workers  
  Faith That Sticks—The Importance of Parents  

This YMI is a continuation of our series on highlighting key factors from studies of students who stick with their faith after high school. One of the key factors of students sticking with their faith is the importance and impact of parents on their faith journey.

In my research days, when I was at Oklahoma State University, studies on adolescent behavior consistently showed parents as one of the most important influencers and, in most studies, the most important influencer in an adolescent's life. Now, perhaps some of you who have teenagers are questioning this research, but trust me, I could cite for you study after study.

This YMI is meant to challenge you to look at how you engage parents, and challenge you to incorporate into your youth ministry a major focus on engaging and ministering to parents and their teenagers together.

Let's turn the tide and have it be the norm that the majority of students who graduate from our ministries stay strong in their faith, and make Jesus the subject!

Raising up a new generation of Christ-centered disciples together,

Andy StephensonAndy Stephenson, PhD
Leader of Youth and Family Ministries
Andy can be reached at


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  Parents and Their Influence  

A quick jaunt through the Internet will lead you to countless articles about how parents influence their children. A parent's example will have an impact on a child's eating behaviors, sexual choices, political beliefs, physical activity, achievement in school, and much more. But how much does a parent's faith matter? Actually, it matters a great deal.

According to an article on the Huffington Post Religion website, 82 percent of children raised by parents who were active in their faith were, themselves, religiously active as young adults (David Briggs, "The No. 1 Reason Teens Keep the Faith as Young Adults," posted on October 20, 2014). According to University of Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith, "No other conceivable causal influence...comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth. Parents just dominate."

As youth workers, we see firsthand the struggles that teenagers encounter today, but let's face it—we only have a few precious hours (or sometimes, minutes) each week to influence their lives. Parents continue to be the greatest influence when it comes to things of faith. Therefore, let's be intentional about supporting godly parents. One of our main goals should be to encourage and support them as they carry out their parental vocation. Together, we truly can achieve our vision—to be a catalyst in raising up a new generation of Christ-centered disciples

Tami ByrdTami Byrd is a member of the Youth Ministry Team and serves as North American Youth Ministries Project Coordinator at Church of God Ministries. She can be reached at tbyrd@chog.org.

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  Importance of Ministering to Parents  

Braden was one of those fringe students who would come every once in awhile to student ministry activities. Most of the time, he would come on the Sunday when it was his weekend at Mom's house. Many years earlier, a somewhat bitter divorce had caused Braden's family to take a step back from their involvement in the life of the church. Knowing that it was important to get Braden connected to the students, a couple of student leaders asked Braden to consider participating in a summer trip. Surprisingly, so did Mom. It was a trip that changed Braden's life forever.

The trip also changed Mom's life. It broke down walls of bitterness toward church leadership. She started to see the value of having her son as an active participant in the student ministry. Mom even started to receive some emotional healing herself.

Parents need to be ministered to in the context of student ministry. Many times, the easiest way to do that is to make a special investment in the lives of their children. It really makes a difference in the parents to see the change in their kids. Make the effort to invest in the lives of the parents in your student ministry. It will make a big difference!

R. W. MoodyR. W. Moody is a Youth Ministry Team member and the pastor of student and family ministries at Parkgate Community Church in Pasadena, Texas. He can be reached at rwmoody@parkgate.org.

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  Should Parents Be Involved in YOUR Ministry?  

Should we have parents involved in our youth ministry?

For me, the answer is a big, enthusiastic YES! However, my response is accompanied by some yellow flags.

Much of the success of our ministry can be traced back to the involvement of parents. Why should that be surprising? After all, they do have a vested interest in our ministry, right? The wisdom and experience of parents have been a huge help to me, especially early on when I was young and foolish. Some of the parents who have partnered with me in ministry have become my most faithful friends, staying committed to me and our ministry for ten, fifteen, even twenty years. The impact they have had on teenagers has inspired and encouraged me beyond what words can express.

But be warned; not every parent is the right fit for youth ministry. It's important to understand the motivation for a person's desired involvement. Is this a controlling parent who wants to have her hands on every activity her child is involved in? If so, maybe this is one place to give that child some breathing space. Is he a drill sergeant who will stifle the fun, free atmosphere you are trying to establish? You don't have to say yes to every parent who asks to be a part of your ministry.

We have two different levels of involvement for parents. The first step is to take a serving role. These parents help by providing transportation, food, set-up, etc. A next step is to ask parents to help on a weekly or monthly basis by supervising gym activities, café, or check-in. Parents can enjoy being involved in these helpful ways, and still give their teens some space.

Some parents are able to be involved as leaders who interact directly with students in small groups. These leaders get involved in the lives of the students, facilitate discussions, and basically make a much bigger investment. To place a parent in this role, be careful and prayerful first. Also, make sure to never put a parent as leader of his or her own child's small group, because teens need adults with whom they can connect other than their parents

There is no better advocate for students than their parents! Let's find creative ways to involve them!

Chris SpittersChris Spitters is a Youth Ministry Team member and the youth pastor at First Church of God in St. Joseph Michigan. He can be reached at chris.s@myfirstchurch.com.

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  Resources for Parents  

In Smooth Handoffs, Dr. Andy Stephenson introduces the GETS IT Generation, an acronym/formula for intentional Biblical discipleship: Godly Example, Training in Scripture, Intentional Time.

As we take a season to focus on "Faith that Sticks," it is important to note that typically the most important person in the spiritual life of teenagers is not their youth pastor. Yes, you read that correctly. It is highly likely that you are not the most important person in the spiritual life of your students. That distinction belongs to their parents.

"Seeing an example of a godly man and a godly woman EVERY SINGLE DAY of my life was foundational for my spiritual growth." —Jeffrey, 20

"Spending time with Jesus each day was something that my parents not only made sure my sister and I did. It was something they modeled for us in their own lives." —Courtney, 20

When it comes to godly example, parents possess a VITAL role in the spiritual development of their children. Think about it for a moment. As a youth leader, your students might see you two to five hours in a given week, but most students see their parents a minimum of two to five hours per day.

Youth leaders, I want to strongly encourage you to strengthen the relationships you have with the parents of your ministry. As you pour into the lives of your students, begin to think of ways that you can pour into the lives of their parents, as well. As you do, I believe you are making an investment that will pay off exponentially!

Here are a few resources to help get you started:
www.downloadyouthministry.com (monthly members have access to a great parent newsletter with editable content and options to add top-notch articles specifically for parents)

Adam RentasAdam Rentas is a Youth Ministry Team member and the youth pastor at First Church of God in Vero Beach, Florida. He can be reached at adamr@fcog.com.

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Calendar of Events

Church of God Convention
June 22–25, 2015: Oklahoma City, OK

Leadership Summit, Lake Wales, FL
July 7–11, 2015

IYC2016, San Antonio, Texas
July 2–5, 2016
Watch your mailbox for information coming soon. Also, the IYC website, www.iyc2016.org, will be live on May 1, 2015. Don't miss this incredible life change experience!


   YMT Members
Tami Byrd RW Moody Chris Spitters Andy Stephenson Adam Rentas


R. W.




Youth Network Team 

  Youth Network Team

            Harold Bradshaw (WY)
            Kyle Cooper (VA)
            Brian Seidel (ID)
            Josh Boldman (FL)
            Tyler Williams (OH)

      Eric Reeder (IN)
      Rob Ringwald (WV)
      Kati Davis (OK)
      Brandon Holbrook (KS)
      John Maloa-Taulealo (CA)


YNT Changes

Kim Schuessler
We want to thank Kim for her service to the Youth Network Team over the years. Kim has also served as the director if the Indiana State Youth Convention for several years, along with other state responsibilities. Thanks, Kim, for all you have done for youth ministry across the country!

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Leadership Summit 2015

Leadership Summit is an opportunity for our student leaders to be empowered and trained in the areas of leadership and calling. LS will be held at Warner University in Lake Wales, Florida, July 7–11, 2015. LS is an Emerging Leaders event, but it's more than an event; it is a launching pad. Leadership Summit is a propellant in the journey to Christ-centered leadership for our student leaders.

We strongly encourage you to bring your student leadership teams. This will make a difference in your ministry!

Registration is $280 through April 29, 2015. The price includes registration, lodging, all meals during LS, all Leadership Summit events, and some tools to take home. It does not include transportation to Florida, but arrangements for pick-up from the airport are included if made in advance. A $75 nonrefundable deposit is due at the time of registration with the balance due by April 29. Contact Sue Baird at SBaird@chog.org to register.

To find out more about Emerging Leaders, Leadership Summit 2015, and available resources, visit EL101.org or www.chogy.org.

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You've spent the last four years getting your students ready for their life after high school.

Now in less than 90 days your grads will be on their own. Your greatest hope is that they will continue following the Lord. The songs, messages and encouragement from the artists on ConGRADulations! will reverberate on their iPhone, iPad and mobile devices for years after graduation.

We have a free sample of the brand new ConGRADulations! Class of 2015 — listen to the songs, read the devotionals, check out the artist and student stories.






Church of God convention, Oklahoma City, OK June 22-25, 2015

Make plans now to attend the 2015 Church of God Convention! Guests will include Sheila Walsh, Larnelle Harris, Sandi Patty, Francis Chan, Anita Renfroe, Shane and Shane, and Selah, just to name a few. The cost of registration is only $125 now through June 14, 2015. Go to www.chogconvention.org and register today!



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