Once per month we will be highlighting some of the awesome things that are happening around Atlantic Canada in your CBAC Youth & Family world. Thank you for serving the next generation and for modelling what joining God in your neighbourhood can look like. We are excited to have Jeffrey Normore, Pastor of Youth & Children at the St. John’s site of The Crossing Church, sharing with us about how he is partnering with parents.
My name is Jeffrey Normore and I am the Pastor of Youth & Children at the St. John’s site of The Crossing Church. Our church family is located in Newfoundland and Labrador. At the start of my time at The Crossing Church, I began reading the ministry philosophy book, “Think Orange” by Reggie Joiner.
The foundation of the philosophy was that if the light of the church, yellow, blended with the love parents have for their children, red, you would get orange. And orange represents a partnership that helps secure life-long faith in children. I acknowledged that my influence and time with students was limited. Most young people will only spend 100 hours in our ministry a year, 1% of their time. Most students will only spend 1000 hours a year in school, this is only 11% of their year. So the other 88% is mostly spent at home. So then my thought was, I need to support parents in how they can be a Christian example to their children and how they can teach faith at home. I wanted our families to live out Deuteronomy 6: 6-9 and to instill faith into children wherever we go.
So what did I do to implement this vision? First, I set a coffee meeting with 3 parents over the course of one month. Was it nerve wracking? Absolutely. I have a general anxiety disorder, my brain can talk me out of doing anything outside of my daily routine. But I wanted to actually hear how parents wanted the church to partner with them, rather than to assume. The 3 responses I got was:
“I don’t look for anything from the church, I want to know how I can help the church, just teach my kids scripture.”
“I want you to always ask my daughter about what is she willing and comfortable to do. We want her to make her own decisions because she’ll soon be 18.”
“Our daughter needs someone else to talk to, she’s been hanging out with a guy that we aren’t sure about.”
This was month three of my time at TCC, the first few months was spent getting familiar with the ministries and the volunteers. It takes a long time for children and students to open up, so I was working on just building relationships and trust with them. But these conversations opened doors that would not have opened unless I spoke with parents. I was now able to:
Evaluate in my selection of curriculum that it was meeting the need of teaching scripture and not leaning to too topical.
I had to find leadership opportunities for this student and to ask her directly what she was comfortable with.
FInd a female leader that could talk to this student, a leader with a shared experience, that she would be able to open up to.
I’m hoping this helps me to continue to know how to navigate the lives of the students and children I am ministering to and trying to disciple into missionaries. If you have been struggling to connect to your students, or if you are a new leader or in a new church, jumpstart your relational ministry by reaching out to parents. What you should consider is what capacity do you have to do this. For me, it was easiest to rip off the bandaid and do 3 meetings in one week and then from there I just did 1 a week. You may be wondering, “What do I have to offer parents?” Sometimes, in the call or meeting you learn that their child is in a good place. Then you know that at this time, their child may not need more intentional attention. But parents aren’t looking for your advice, they are looking for you to listen to them and for your support. I always end the conversation by asking, “What can I do for your child?” And then we agree upon a practical step together..
Another thing I do is email out resources for parents, either in mass or to a specific parent. One of the greatest resources for this content is Parent Cue podcasts and blogs, theparentcue.org. I also began a series of seminars called “Parent’s Night”, targeted towards parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and leaders. You can read about this initiative on my personal blog by clicking here.
I am praying for our CBAC family and I am here if you want to have a further conversation, [email protected].
Thank you for joining God in your neighbourhood!