I had the privilege of attending a Mothers Against Drunk Driving gathering the other night at LHC. First, I must say that the people who organized the event were so kind and thoughtful. The presenters were dead on, speaking about the legal, scientific and social issues associated with juvenile alcohol consumption and consequent parental involvement therein. There were many insights throughout the night that I found helpful and convicting, but one idea absolutely captivated my attention. The last presenter of the evening discussed that in years past MADD had used a strategy that sought to frighten teens away from alcohol consumption. I remember these days, at my school with displays set up outside depicting the gory realities of drinking and driving. For the life of me I can't remember if it was for MADD or DARE, but both programs sought to scare us out of bad behavior. The presenter then showed that they believe parents, not scare tactics, are now the key to reaching students with a message of abstinence from alcohol. Studies simply show time and time again that whether teens like it or not, and whether their parents believe it, Mom and Dad still hold the place as primary influencer in their child's life. If you reach the parents, you reach the kids.
I couldn't help but think that this meeting sounded oddly like the experience I have had in student ministry over the past 15 years of my life. When I was a teenager every speaker who shared the gospel sought to scare us bad enough that we would choose heaven over hell. If he could get us to think about death and hell enough, surely we would choose Jesus and heaven instead. The problem is that those tactics didn't yield the fruit I think everyone had hoped for. Disciples weren't made and now we're reaping the benefits with staggering numbers of college age students abandoning faith year after year. The solution. Parents. Every Student Ministry Conference and Essay coming out right now seems to point to parents/family ministry as the hope for our world. Sound Familiar?
I want you, the reader, to know that I'm stoked that secular and faith-based research is yielding the same results. I think this proves for us again that all truth is God's truth if its really the truth. In Deuteronomy 6:7, the author writes of God's commandments, "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Ancient Hebrews and Modern Researchers sound the same. I think its brilliant....and there's more to be said.
I've noticed as of late that trends seem to come and go in the church and secular world. I do think we are progressing and I certainly agree that parents play a beyond enormous role in the positive development of teenagers, but as a follower of Jesus I have to believe that "true transformation" happens through the work of Holy Spirit in the hearts of men and women, girls and boys. A Mom and Dad can and should guide their student through the tumultuous waters of adolescence, but only God can change their heart. Friends, let us not forget.