Dear Youth Worker,
I wanted to take a moment to say, “You are doing a great job.” My daughter loves coming to your group and she has friends there. I love that she loves to come to church. I truly appreciate you creating a space for that.
When I was growing up, going to church was one of my favorite things to do. I have memories of all-nighters, broomball, eating crazy stuff for a dollar, and so much more. At camps, I remember experiences with God during worship like I had never had before. I also vividly remember the evening my small group leader said that she knew God had a special plan for my life. All of these memories are reasons that, when my daughter became a teenager, I couldn’t wait for her to be part of her own youth group.
What surprised me was the anxiety and feeling of separation that came along with sending her off to the world of youth group. It feels like I dropped her off on Mars and I am suddenly worried about whether I packed her with enough oxygen.
Logically, I know she is growing up and being there without me is a great opportunity for her to grow and learn with her community. But the emotional part of me knows what kinds of things teenagers go through, so it scares me to put her in a room full of teenagers all going through that stuff!
After thinking it through, I thought of a few requests that would not only strengthen my excitement for her to go to your youth group events and activities, but in a small way allow me to feel a part of it without being in the room with her.
Share how you have been praying.
What has God been putting on your heart about the ministry in general? What things are you hoping to see God do? How are you praying for this generation? How are you praying specifically for my child? I would love to join you in these prayers. This would not only allow us to be a team but also show me ways I can pray for my daughter I may not have thought of.
Believe that what you are doing matters.
It is worth it to me to drive my daughter to and from youth group several times a week because I believe in the transformative power of Jesus and of a supportive community. My husband and I see the joy our daughter has from being there. I want to make sure you believe that the time students spend at youth group is so worth it that you are putting in the time to pray, spend time in the Word, and prepare for each and every meeting time. This time is too precious for us and for her for you to just “wing-it.”
Tell me when you see God moving in my child’s life.
When you check in like that it tells me that you are paying attention to my child and it gives me hints on where look for God’s work in her when she is home as well.
Bring in the best of the best.
Don’t just recruit warm bodies to be my daughter’s small group leader or camp counselor. She sees these times as safe places to share her thoughts, her doubts, and her life experiences. Please put people in those roles that are equipped to give wise counsel if she brings up issues she is having with a friend or even with me, her mom. Place people in that role that will allow her space to share and will always point her to Jesus.
Handle with care.
From the moment she was born I have worked very hard to keep that girl safe. I have spent years looking both ways before crossing and buckling her up in that seat belt. I love that when she comes home from youth group, she has stories of playing crazy games or eating funny food. I just ask that you please have her safety in mind. It’s kind of a big deal when she is riding in a car or bus up to camp. Use common sense and follow all of the laws of the road.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
I don’t want her to miss anything you have planned for this school year. I am completely willing to plan our family calendar around your youth group calendar as long as we know when things are. Please send out emails regularly and often reminding me when things are coming up. I get so many these days that it is easy for one lone email to get lost in the bottom of my inbox. Also include teaching topics as well. This is a great tool for me to follow up on with her when I pick her up from youth group.
One last thing: I may not talk to you when I drop her off and it’s not personal. It’s nerves. When I drop her off, you tend to be surrounded by kids and, of course, that is where you should be. I don’t want to bother you. But know my kid thinks you’re cool and therefore, so do I. That being said, if you ever need a driver, a baker, or my child to come with an extra caffeinated beverage for you as fuel for the event, please let me know.