In my previous post I talked about the importance of creating effective meetings for parents in our ministries. The world of a parent is often stressed, over-scheduled, and overloaded with information from countless places. Our ministries are just one of many things parents are considering during their busy week. Therefore, it’s crucial that at certain times of the year, we create worthwhile parent meetings that effectively communicate and partner with parents.
So, here are some additional things that I find helpful to make parent meetings worthwhile:
6) Make them Easy to Attend: Rather than make parents come in for a special meeting, I try to schedule following a service, during a youth program, or after/before another key event at church.
7) Partner with Parents: Parents spend thousands more hours per year with their kids than we do. It’s a fact! Parents will be with their kids long after graduation or after we have changed ministry. It’s well documented that parents are still the greatest influence on their kids. Therefore, we must see our role to partner with parents not replace them.
Can I be honest for a moment though? I think professional youth workers (and the church), have often done a terrible job in this area. Frequently, the way we do ministry sets parents up to drop their kids off with the paid professional, and effectively send the message, “leave it to us, we know teenagers, we will take care of them”. Combined with a society that has become increasingly “hands off” with parenting, is it any wonder we are all struggling? And here’s me being real honest with you… Too many of us like being a hero to kids (and their parents). This might be inflating our ego’s, but come on, are we really helping our students in the long-term?
Therefore, at my meetings, I stress the importance of being there to partner with parents, not replace them. “My job is to partner with you, not replace. I am here to continue and support what you are already doing at home…”
-Once there’s a steady “rhythm” of balloons being kept in the air, explain what the balloons represent and how parents are a crucial part of the Youth Ministry team and that the team will be more effective in doing ministry with their help.
8) Give them a Long-term Plan: It might sound crazy if you are not a planner, but the further out you plan (and give parents those dates), the more they will thank you for it! When it comes to vacations, Spring break trips, birthdays, etc, these are the things that parents get on their calendars first. Last year I gave parents our mission trip date for the following summer in September. I was surprised how many of them thanked me for giving them time to plan their vacations around the trip.
9) Give them a Specific Plan: Help parents by giving them a teaching plan, or a 4 year big picture plan, or a discipleship plan, and maybe the process you are taking their kids through. You don’t have to tell them everything, but give them something to read at a later time. The type of parents who want this kind of information will read it! Again, this might seem a little over done, but this is the stuff many parents are wondering. Not only that, you will gain trust when you give them a great plan.
10) Answer Their Questions / Get Feedback: I often forgot this step in my early years. It’s so easy to see meetings as a time to give information and tell them what they need to know. However, it’s imperative that we take time to listen and take questions from them. (It’s often here that we realize we have missed a huge hole somewhere). These Q & A times can get lengthy, so I put a 10 minute cap on them with the promise of being available to talk afterward…
11) Follow Through After the Meeting: Create great channels of communication for follow up. We currently use:
Wow, this turned out to be a monster post! There’s a lot more I could say. Instead, feel free to ask questions and add your ideas and expertise!