Youth Ministry Realities: Now That I’m a Parent…I’m Sorry…

Retrospect sucks.

I am 43 years old.  I have been in youth ministry since I was 19.  I finally have teenagers of my own…sixteen, fourteen, and twelve year old sons.  Looking back at some of the decisions I made as a pre-parent of a teenager, I am horrified!

And I am sorry….

…for the time I said ‘orgasm’ from the pulpit in big church. I apologize.  Even though we were deep in the throes of ‘True Love Waits’, I now realize that maybe that would be a word you would like to introduce to your children.  I’m sorry I probably brought questions to roost before you (or they) were ready for them.  I know I would want to be the person introducing the ‘particulars’ of sex to my own teenagers.

…for the time it looked like I had kidnapped your son.  I should have told you where we were.  I was definitely thinking like the guy in charge of the entire group, not the guy in charge of your most precious gift.  I’m sorry I disrespected you and your position as parent.  I know I would be furious if an adult, even a responsible one, had my kids and I didn’t know where they were.

…for the time your kids wandered off and got lost in the mountains during youth camp and I didn’t call you until the next morning.  That decision was actually a crap-shoot and somewhat intentional.  I truly believed they would be found, so I didn’t want to unnecessarily worry you.  I now realize how getting a phone call at 6:00 AM informing that your kids had been lost in the mountains since 2:00 PM the day before was probably much more concerning than getting that call earlier on.  I’m sorry the judgment call I had to make was probably not the right one.  I know that I would want to know immediately if my kids were facing an unknown danger.

For all the times I didn’t give you the answers you were searching for, made a joke off the top of my head that left a ‘mark’ on your student, or didn’t see you as the primary spiritual influence on your teenagers…I am truly sorry.

Thank you.  For talking with me with honesty and respect regarding the sex talk and not holding me in bitterness and resentment because I took that moment from you.

Thank you.  For understanding I was green in ministry and not trying to kidnap your son.  Thank you for not pressing charges.

Thank you.  For recognizing that your kids sidestepped the guidelines, getting themselves into trouble, for not blaming me, and for continuing to trust my leadership in your lives and theirs.

I doubt that being a parent of a teenager has made me a better youth pastor – but it has definitely made me more aware of your plight….

Thank you – and again, I apologize.


  • John Fix

    Darren, thank you for making my decision easier to “home youth group” my children. I had been wrestling with it for quite some time, but now have the complete confidence that I can screw up my teenagers quite nicely on my own thank you very much.

    Much love,

  • Darren Sutton

    I’m nothing if not here for you, JJ!