Let me tell you about a little thing we do twice a year called Parents’ Night Out. My wife and I are the sponsors of an organization called Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM, formerly known as Baptist Student Union). We were looking for a ministry opportunity that teenage youth could be a part of. Since we are a school, not a church, some of the construction projects and work days that youth groups normally do are not a good idea. We needed something that 9-12 graders could do to benefit the community, develop leadership, and nurture a servant like heart. Enter my wife Teresa.
Back at Windsor Springs Baptist Church in August, GA, her youth group had done a thing called Mom’s Day Out. The youth met at the church, parents dropped off their kids, then headed out for lunch, shopping, or a quite afternoon at home. The ministry being offered is free baby sitting. It was perfect for us. We changed the name to Parents Night Out, and have it on Friday evenings from 4:30 or 5 ’till about 10. Raising a family and being in full time ministry is basically 2 full time jobs. It takes 4 or 5 adults to supervise the 12 or so high school youths who are actually doing the “baby sitting” for 20 or 30 infant through 5th grade kids. And the parents love it!!!
The kids think it’s a party for them. The next one we’re doing has a rodeo theme. We’ve done Veggie Tales, Jungle Night, and the ever popular Pirates Night Out. We went on a scavenger hunt that night and dug up buried treasure. Our group plans ahead, and sets up everything the night before. When all the kids have gone, it takes about an hour to put things back right, sweep, mop and get out. It’s exhausting, but the results are three fold: 1) the parents working at our ministry get a night off from their kids, either to catch dinner and a movie, or relax quietly at home. 2) The kids think it’s a party for them, and that’s okay too. We plan events and activities, but it’s a little more relaxed than a VBS. 3) Our youth learn about ministering to others, being a servant, and receive thanks from the parents. The work is hard – sometimes – and at the end of the night they feel appreciated for doing a good thing. Some of our students have never had that before.
If your looking at missions and need something to do “at home” without driving cross country, consider a Parents Night or Mothers Day Out. If you already make a one or two week trip with your youth, consider whether your church would benefit from adding Parents Night Out. There is sometimes a disconnect between adult church members and what the youth are doing. This ministry might help bridge the gap and benefit all the age groups of your congregation at the same time.