The Importance of “Hey! I Missed You”

I love telling kids I miss them. Now, I don’t necessarily like that kids were missing from the event or meeting but I love to tell them that I missed them. I know how it makes me feel when someone misses me. They are saying, “You are valuable. You presence is important and we know when it is not among us.”

If you are not telling kids they are missed, shame on you. You’re missing an opportunity to affirm a kids existence. You can take this to the next level.

I do my best to text parents the next day to let them know I missed their kids. I also tell them in person and they know me well enough that I’m not making a big deal about attendance. I am telling them that I value their kids. I have an opportunity to tell parents that I value what their kids bring to the youth meeting/ministry

Presence – They make a difference in our group

Leadership – Their example/influence makes a difference.

Servanthood– They offer their gift of practicality and helps.

Voice – They add value to our worship and ministry time

Compassion – They have open hearts and welcoming arms

Communicating with parents about the value of their children, to you, the ministry, and the world, is just as powerful as telling the kids themselves.

It’s a lonely world. Kids need to hear it. Parents need to hear it. You need to hear it. “Hey! I missed you.”

For more on the loneliness epidemic, listen to my interview with Tim Eldred: Alone Sucks


Youth Ministry, Parenting, Graduation, And Rocket Launching 101

“If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be who I am.” These are the words a parent loves to here, except the kid who said them to me wasn’t my son. The student who shared these kind words with me, and many others, is a student I’ve been ministering to for the past six years.

Over the past six years his family got divorced and became a hot, contentious mess. Recently, his grandfather passed away.  He was the Pastor of a local church that allowed our church to use their facility after a tornado took our church. After his passing, his son took over the church (the students uncle) and recently expressed to his nephew he’d  like him to join in in some kind of ministry capacity.

I was helping build a rocket in our youth room. It took six year but it’s finally launched. I can’t be surprise or shocked, I expected it. This young man and I had many conversations about ministry and  I gave him plenty of opportunities to serve and Voila! The rocket launched.

It’s graduation season and parents and youth workers share a common goal, to launch kids well. [bctt tweet=”I believe we’re either in the process of launching kids or in the process of losing them” username=”@paulturnertoo”] and there is a  process for launching good rockets (students) that both parents and youth workers can follow.

We’re building rockets in our youth rooms

Building the model rocket is not necessarily the hard part. It comes with instructions and you need some glue, tape, stickers, etc. There are many hands involved, primarily a parents hands, along with teachers, youth pastors bosses etc. Scripture shows us how to disciple young people, impart wisdom, and gives us examples of great leaders and how they became great.

According to WikkiHow there’s a proper way to launch a rocket and we can learn from this process

Find a field long and wide – Expand your ministry so kids can use their gift and talents in a variety of ways and not just in ways that we enjoy or are comfortable with.

Set the launch pad  in the center of the field – Level the playing field and give every kid a chance to lead and they’ll have a chance to launch.

Load the motor – Jesus is the power, through the Holy Spirit.  There is no launch without Him. “You can do nothing with out me” John 15:5

Recover System – Apart from the kind of paper wadding you use, recognize if your rocket has a some kind of recovery system such as a streamer or parachute. Not all launches go as planned. If a kid launches too soon or heads for the trees, you want to be able to bring him or her back and tray again.

Place the Igniter – What will spark this launch? Who knows, ever kid is different. What fires up one kid will not fire up another. We need to look for the igniters, the things that fire kids up and get them actively using the gifts God has given them for His glory.

Remove the safety rodTake away the safety nets in ministry  and prepare them to succeed and allow them to fail in their spiritual journey.

Connect the Clips  –  Put in place the method for a launching which include ministry opportunities, time in mentoring, time in prayer, etc.

Step Back – We can’t do it all. There has to be a time of separation where a students grow in the dark, so to speak, and learn to follow the leading of the Spirit. Besides, stepping back gives you the view of the launch.

Begin the countdown – If all things are connected and the prep work has been done, turn the key around their Junior year and start the countdown to launch.

What if it doesn’t launch – Wait for it. There just may be a relayed reaction. Maintain hope, you built a rocket and rockets are made to launch.

My friends asked me if i was sad when my daughter graduated from college and moved to another state for job. I told them, “No, I’m not sad, I been building a rocket in my house for 19 years, it would be shame not to see it launch.”

[bctt tweet=”The minute we start investing in a student, the clock starts ticking. ” username=”@paulturnertoo”]

Whether we’re parents or youth pastors, the process is similar. Our mindset is to launch and, if we have done our jobs, the outcome is the same, we get to see someone soar high and far into the sky and into the dreams and visions God has for them.

Your Turn

How confident are you  in the “rocket” you’ve built as a parent or as a youth worker?

How far do you  think it will go?

What “rockets” are you currently building?


5 Must Have Boundaries To Keep Critical Parents From Eating You Alive

Today I offer s special guest post from my friend Paul Sheneman. He has some excellent thoughts on something we all deal with, critical parents. Enjoy.


Here They Come Again

It’s youth group night. You’ve just got done pouring yourself out once again for what you love. You’ve had the range of emotions that a night with teenagers can bring. And then…you spot “them.”

[Queue That Scary Movie Sound Track]

You can see them coming from across the church. It’s “that parent.” Internally, you groan because you know what’s coming. They’ll fane interest in what’s happening BUT (and I mean a huge BUT) what they’re really there for is to give you another mini-session on how to lead a youth ministry.

The Big 3 Continual Critics
From my experience as a youth pastor, I’ve identified three types of continually critical parents or the CCP (because we like initials in YM). The CCP are a rare breed but emerge in many environments in the youth ministry world. When you first encounter one, don’t poke them because they will attack.

Know It Alls – The KIA (throwing an acronym at you:) are typically male. They come from the far off land of “unusual social habits.” They strike up conversations with everyone about everything. And you, my dear youth worker, have become one of their “everyones” that they always see.

Mama Bears – These females see their offspring as though they stopped developing at 5 months old. Everyone who is within 20 feet of their little ones must be identified, background checked, cleared through NSA, CIA and TSA, grilled via enhanced interrogation tactics, and constantly monitored. And if the offspring are poked, emotionally or via a dodgeball game, the claws come out.

Control Freaks – These can be either male or female. The control issue may be regarding their child or just because they have control issues. They are hyper involved with knowing and/or telling you details of the youth ministry but not necessarily jumping at a chance to be a part of it.

5 Boundaries To Engage a CCP

To engage a CCP you need to create boundaries. Boundaries start with prayer because they are going to be difficult to set and harder to follow through on. Boundaries are not arbitrary rules set by one party but negotiated relational practices that ensure that, when healthy, respect all persons in a relationship. It ensures that you don’t get walked all over, the parents are respected and others are protected.

Stick to 1 Topic – Doesn’t matter the type because if they have one critic then they probably have 2, or more…a lot more. But a conversation can’t be productive if you’re chasing after a web of issues. So you need to set the expectation that you’re only going to talk about 1 issue at a time.

Set Times and Time Limits – If they are stopping you in the halls, dropping by after youth group, or catching you in your office at unexpected times and then they are stealing your ministry time away (KIA can do this). You’ll need to set times and time limits. You’re going to have to say, “I can’t talk about this right now because___________. How about we do it _______________?” If it is that important for them then they’ll set aside the extra time.

No Degrading People – If any person is degrading others (you, other teens, other parents, your volunteer team, etc.), then you need to put a stop to it. Repeat what they said to them about another person and tell them that you will not listen to them if they choose to continue to degrade people in that way.
Yelling Means We’re Not Talking – If you don’t let teens yell at you then don’t let their parents yell at you (mama bears can do this). If people are yelling then they don’t want to be in a conversation. They want to be in a shouting match.

No Bullying – Don’t accept being bullied by a parent (control freaks can do this). You’re going to have to say, “The way that you’re talking to me right now is bullying. And I will not accept it.” Walk away and let your ministry supervisor know about it.

Paul Sheneman is an author, speaker and youth pastor, with over 15 years of youth ministry experience. He currently serves as the Methodist youth pastor in Macedonia, OH. He drinks way too much coffee for his own good and enjoys a good book. You can follow most of his ramblings at or on Twitter @PaulSheneman.

Your Turn

Which of kind of critical parent do you  deal with most often?

Which boundary do you need to start putting into practice today?