So…if no volunteer can ever know what a parent knows, then why recruit anyone to help with kids? It would definitely make things easier if you could just tell parents, “Since you know more than we can ever know, and you have more time than we will ever have, and you care more than we ever will, then this is really up to you as the parent.”
You could also misquote Deuteronomy 6 to convince parents it’s their job alone, not the church’s, to raise their kids. Just skip the part of the text where Moses speaks to every leader in the crowd (not just parents). Moses was actually the first guy with the idea “it takes a village.”
Sure, parents should be the primary influence in their kids’ lives. But research, experts, and statistics suggest kids who have other consistent adults in their lives have better odds at winning. (Pssst: The phrase “consistent adult” is actually code for “weekly small group leader.”)
Maybe more churches should take Moses seriously when he implied, “We are all responsible for the faith and future of the kids in our community.” The more you learn about life stages, the more you will be convinced that kids need a consistent adult, besides their parents.
Middle schoolers need a consistent adult, because nothing else in their life is consistent.
In a phase where insecurity runs deep, they need someone to affirm their faith so that they keep believing.
Don’t be afraid to challenge leaders to make different commitments at different phases.
The leader who shows up once a week for second graders will make an easy connection within a few minutes because children will believe in anyone. The leader who shows up for sixth graders will have to hang out for a while. Sixth graders are skeptics. They need proof over time that a leader does care.
Every kid needs someone who knows their history. And every kid needs someone who can rediscover them now.
Before you can lead someone where they need to go, you need to know where they are.
The better you understand who kids are now, the better they’ll understand who they’re meant to be.