For many of us, we are already in full swing of the Fall season. Programs are getting kicked off, students are back in school, and schedules have launched into hyper speed!
One particular group of people who are stretched and stressed are the parents of the students we work with. As a result of the crazy season, it is easy for them to overlook or forget about everything we do in our student ministries. Therefore, it’s imperative we do two things: First, don’t take their lack of understanding of our programs personally… They are just very busy. Second, it is crucial that we do everything to partner with them and help them understand the who, why, what, when, and how of our youth ministries.
Here’s what I do:
1) Create a Parent Meeting at Least a Month into the Fall: I used to get frustrated by poor turnout when I scheduled meetings either at the end of the summer, or right at the beginning of the Fall. Instead, I look for a late September / early October meeting. A later meeting with a larger number is better than an early meeting with only a few showing up… And, promote the snot out of your meeting… I’m even considering giving away Starbucks gift cards to get them there… (It sure would work for me…)
2) Connect Them with Each Other: When we have our meetings, I try to find ways to connect parents with each other. Whether it is a small ice-breaker or asking them to talk to one or two others at the front end of the meeting, it is crucial. The parents at our meetings could well become some of the best support for each other over the school year. When parents begin to share their stories with each other, they realize they are not alone. This is crucial!
3) Connect Them to Serve in the Ministry: Use the meeting as an opportunity to sign-up parents for anything and everything! (Obviously, it has to be something you can actually give them to do). When parents find a place to serve and belong, they develop a healthy ownership of the ministry. Whether it is bringing snacks, phone calls, administration, or helping with large events, use the meeting as a way to get them involved. By including them in serving them become owners of our ministries. We want to move parents from being onlookers to owners of what is happening…
5) Share Your Heart: This is not the same as casting vision… This is the time where we lay our passions, hopes, and dreams out there for them to see and hear. Parents are looking for a good vision and plan for their kids, but they also want to know that the leader is passionately committed to go the extra mile for their kids. This is a particularly challenging step for young leaders, since it means making ourselves vulnerable and exposed. However, my experience tells me that parents will go the extra mile for us when they see our hearts and hear our overflowing passion for their kids.