Partnering with Parents: Your Choice?
Parents in youth ministry: you may or may not like your student's parents. In my experience, they can be your best allies (not axis) because they can be…
… a great volunteer (if their student is cool with them helping),
… support you financially,
… praise you in front of others (including parents and better yet, your leader), and
… are a great recruiter for volunteers.
Parents can be your worst enemies by…
… overly criticizing you,
… communicating to others that you are a terrible youth worker for their kids,
… micromanaging you,
… being over-protective of their student (because they don’t trust you).
In any case, parents can be your ally or your enemy based on YOUR choices. Here are some proven ways to make your student's parents (both community + church parents) your ally:
If you have been in youth ministry long enough, you will know that students rarely communicate what is happening at your program (including their everyday lives). That means, when parents hear from YOU, they are in the loop. Ideas would include:
- Start a social media page for parents,
- Text parents once-a-week reminding them of the youth program,
- Once per-semester parents meeting (before/after Sunday morning is best),
- Have a semester-based newsletter for parents including calendar, theme and website resources for parents,
- Build relationships
Minister to Parents
Yes, you should have a plan to minister to parents of students. Adolescence can be difficult for parents. Being an ally for parents builds trust and friendship. For ideas to build trust with parents:
- Bring in a specialist who speaks on topics such as the digital age, pornography, relationships or parenting teens. You don’t HAVE to minister directly to parents, but you can give opportunities for parents to experience ministry,
- Pray with them and for them – ask for strategic ways in how you can partner with parents in prayer,
- Get parents to minister to each other. Stories, testimonies and “doing real life” with each other helps as well. If you can get a few parents who would be willing + able to share their story or minister with parents who have had teenagers, it will go a long way.
Parents need to trust you IF you want their students to experience an off-site event. Having updated parental release forms, permission forms, registration forms, check-ins and sign-ups ahead of time communicates that you are ahead of the game. Not only that, it also communicates that you are building a culture of fun in a safe + appropriate matter (which teens need to experience, too). If you are looking for some great forms, feel free to contact me anytime.
Lastly, I encourage you to partner with parents by being consistent. For me, my annual plan to partner with parents consisted of:
- Once a year parent conference (Saturday from 10am-2pm including lunch) with a specialist,
- Once per-semester parent meeting after the Sunday service (for 15 minutes) including a parent newsletter,
- A weekly parental email update, social media page and/or texting options to communicate upcoming events + programs for their students,
- Prayer + relationships, and
- Opportunity to serve at programs.
For me, I have experienced the awesome privilege in partnering with parents. They have been the best recruiters of killer volunteers, financial supporters and key helpers in key outreach events. I strongly encourage you to make the most out of your student's parents. You won’t regret it.
How can you start partnering with your youth ministry parents today?
What are some ways you can strengthen ministry to parents?
What is ONE thing you can do to connect with parents to be allies rather than an axis in your youth ministry?