Helping Your Tween Transition to Youth Ministry

Marie Osborne

Marie Osborne
Updated Aug 03, 2023
Helping Your Tween Transition to Youth Ministry

I need to be praying for the people who are informing his faith. I need to be praying for those who are teaching him the Word, who are mentoring him, and guiding him. That they would be led by the Spirit and equipped and empowered by God.

Watching him walk in that first weekend brought tears to my eyes. My little boy I brought to the church nursery, to the two-year-old, three-year-old, and pre-K rooms, to each of the elementary rooms, now was graduating to youth ministry. 

The Magic of Youth Ministry

I didn’t grow up in the church, but, for years, I’ve heard about the magic of youth ministry. It’s held almost a mythical quality for me. All the friends of mine who grew up in the church talk about their wonderful times in youth ministry. All the games that they played, the camps, the small groups, the memories. I know so many people who accepted Christ in youth ministry, who remember it with such fondness. I’ve been looking forward to that for my kids for years. But it’s strange now that it’s here.

My Transition to Youth Ministry Mom

Helping my own child transition to youth ministry has really meant helping myself transition. I’m having to adjust to a new schedule, new expectations, to relationships, a new role in his spiritual life. We are adding youth group to the middle of our week, adding camps to our summer plans, adding his small group leader to my phone, and adding so many things to his spiritual life that I’m not part of.

We still have great spiritual discussions. He asks me a lot of questions about God. He asks about the stories in the Bible that he doesn’t quite understand or the verses that don’t quite make sense. We talk about his doubts, his worries, his fears. We discuss the practical parts of the Christian life and what it all really looks like. How do you really know if God is speaking to you? How do you hear His voice? "Have you ever really heard him yourself, Mom?" He’s wrestling with his faith, and I’m still walking through these questions and thoughts with him. I’m still discipling him, pointing him to Scripture, praying with him and for him.

New Ministry, New Mentors

Now as he transitions to youth ministry, our conversations are laced with other people’s input. He’ll ask me a question, then share what his small group leader said on the subject. He’ll talk about a Bible passage, and he’ll bring up what his youth pastor shared in his latest message. He’ll reference a spiritual concept and tell me what someone in his small group said about it. I’m realizing that his faith is developing outside of our home, outside of our conversations. His spiritual sphere is expanding to include a whole new group of people in our church body, all his youth ministry mentors and peers, and all that is new for me.

Primary Prayer Warrior

I’m transitioning from primary discipler to primary prayer warrior. We are still talking and praying together. I still have input and influence in his faith, but so do other people. He’s living things out at school and at church and other people are answering these questions. Other people are informing his faith, too. I continue to pray that the Spirit is in every conversation he has. I pray that God continues to draw him to Himself. I pray that his small group leaders are always kind and speak with wisdom and truth. I pray that the kids he meets at church would be godly examples. Most of all, I pray for the youth pastors and youth staff because they need it.

Praying for the Youth Ministers

He just came back from his first youth ministry camp and had an incredible time. I know that that is largely due to the youth ministry staff. I am so incredibly thankful for all the care, attention, prayer, and wisdom they poured into my son. (He also changed his clothes twice in 7 days, which makes me so incredibly thankful for their dedication to these super smelly, strange middle schoolers.) As I pray and support him in his growing faith, I need to be praying for the people who are informing his faith. I need to be praying for those who are teaching him the Word, who are mentoring him, and guiding him. That they would be led by the Spirit and equipped and empowered by God. I need to trust that God is working in and through them the same way that I trusted that God would work in and through me.

Taking Ownership of His Faith

The other thing that has happened since he transitioned to youth ministry is he has taken more ownership of his personal spiritual disciplines. We’ve discussed what that might look like in his day-to-day life. We’ve done Bible studies together over the years. We’ve read devotions and memorized verses and had so many discussions about God and the Bible. But at camp, he had the opportunity to pray and read the Bible on his own, without me or his dad or sisters. Now he’s thinking more about what it might look like to develop spiritual disciplines on his own, without my prompting or participation.

Will he read the Bible? Will he pray or listen to worship music? What will reading the Bible look like for him? Will he have a journal? Will he take notes? Will he do a Bible study or read a book or a devotional? I’m having to let go and let him figure that out on his own. I’m still a sounding board, still an example through my own spiritual disciplines, but I’m allowing him space to find his own spiritual rhythm. I’m also allowing him to find his spiritual rhythm along with the rest of the kids in his youth ministry as they study the Bible together, as they meet in a small group, and as they discuss things with one another. I’m allowing him to develop a relationship with the family of God outside of his biological family of origin.

Excited for Youth Ministry

It’s strange and exciting at the same time. I’m excited to see how this transition to youth ministry develops his faith. I’m excited to see how God uses people besides me to disciple him. I’m so thankful for the youth pastors and the youth ministry staff and volunteers. I’m so thankful they will be pouring into my son and helping him become a man of God. I’ll be praying for my son and praying for the adults that are ministering to him. I’ll be praying for all of those kids, and their parents as well, as we watch these kids transition from their childhood faith into these wonderful transformative years in youth ministry.

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