Since the inception of student ministry (not that many years ago), the growing belief is that parents should aid and assist the student pastor to evangelize and disciple the students.  By serving in either assistant teaching roles or crowd control, parents are expected to help the student pastor in his ministerial work focused on their children.  I cannot begin to tell you how many parents describe that situation and say that the student pastor spiritually “raised my child.”

If we were to follow the biblical example, we would reverse the trend.  Parents should not aid and assist the student pastor.  The student pastor should aid and assist the parent to evangelize and disciple one’s own child.

At this point in the conversation, it would be wise to see what the role of a pastor is actually supposed to be.  God appointed leaders to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12).  Did you catch that?

Ministers are not supposed to do the work of ministry.  Ministers are supposed to equip the congregation to do the work of ministry!

As God had been leading us on this journey of equipping parents, we were sure of one thing: we would not hire anyone to raise our members‘ children.  Why would we hire someone to do the job that God expected parents to do?  We wanted our student pastor to be a second, supportive voice in a child’s life reaffirming what the parents were already teaching.  This pastor would help shows teenagers that their parents weren’t crazy as he backed up the instruction that was given in the home.

Not only was this a biblical paradigm shift for us, but we also realized that it was a wise one because student and children’s ministry as we know them do not work.  During the Jesus Movement of the early 1970s, Southern Baptist churches baptized 138,000 teenagers.  This great harvest led many churches and parachurch organizations to hire youth ministers to capitalize on the growing movement.

Since that time, the number of youth and children’s ministers have dramatically increased all the while baptism numbers have declined sharply.  35 years after this great harvest, 50% of all Southern Baptist Churches did not have one youth baptized within their entire congregation.  More workers and programs geared towards young people than ever before and yet fewer recorded salvations and baptisms.

Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

Parents are expecting someone else to do what God has called them to do.

-Excerpt from Don’t Drop Your Kids Off at Church

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.