Christian Smith is a sociologist. His extensive research on emerging adults reveals a simple power. Regardless of sophisticated youth programming, mission trips, youth group and church busy-ness, kids adopt Christian values through two primary means:

1. The authentic life of their parents
2. Establishing a habit of prayer and bible reading

The secondary helps of student ministry (trips, retreats, etc) become exactly that. Secondary. If they land on a good foundation of authentic parenting, they’ll be more effective. If not, they are unable — in and of themselves — to be of much help to a struggling student.

The best strategy of successful youth ministry? Invest in the parents.