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Vision for youth ministry is seminary magazine’s winter focus

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Insight into the changing face of youth ministry and practical advice for youth ministers in Southern Baptist churches from Richard Ross is featured in the winter issue of Southwestern News magazine.

Ross, professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is one of the architects of the global “True Love Waits” sexual abstinence campaign.

The magazine’s features include a look at the youth missionary enterprise of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., the youth music ministry of Glenview Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and the student ministry of Central Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas, near the campus of Texas A&M in adjacent College Station.

Ross’ contribution to the magazine, which is published by Southwestern, is an article on the role of parents in church youth groups. Ministers and church leaders have gone to great lengths to teach the things of God to their youth on church property, he notes, but most churches have never provided a single training event to show parents how to teach the things of God to their children.

“If you are a fulltime minister,” Ross suggests in an interview, “assemble parents every school month except December. Even if you bring in counselors, doctors, school officials and other leaders, parents will appreciate you as the brains behind it all. Over time, parenting will improve. The lives of parents will become less stressful, teenagers will be healthier spiritually and emotionally, and you will spend less time trying to put broken families back together.”

Ross said his goal is to assist parents and teens in rebuilding warmth and intimacy and to encourage “churched” parents take “solo youth” — youth with unchurched parents — under their wings.

“For faith to flow from one generation to the next, the first order of business is for the hearts of the parents and the children to turn toward each other,” Ross said. “This heart connection is the pipeline through which faith flows from parent to child.”

Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson also has penned an article for the magazine on “Iconoclastic Student Ministry,” with 17 guidelines for successful youth ministry.

Patterson, for example, encourages church leaders to “call a man as your minister to youth or your pastor in charge of youth ministry.”

“If possible, have an associate who is a woman. If money is in short supply, have the youth minister find a woman who will volunteer to serve in this capacity. It is imperative that the youth minister be both a minister and a man’s man whom the young men will respect. It is critically important that the associate be a woman who is godly, pure of heart and a model of what biblical womanhood is all about,” Patterson writes.

Patterson also noted that youth ministers should not make programs such as choir tours and social projects an end within themselves. “Every mission tour must gauge its effectiveness by whether or not the young people have seen people to whom they are ministering come to Christ, and perhaps have even planted a church,” he writes.

Patterson also encourages youth ministers to teach young people what the Bible says about sex, to make men out of boys and women out of girls and, like Ross, to ensure that parents are included in the youth ministry equation.
For a free subscription and a copy of the current Southwestern News, contact Brent Thompson, associate director of news and information at Southwestern Seminary, at [email protected] or (817) 923-1921 ext. 7220.

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  • Gregory Tomlin