Gaining Healthy Respect & Influence In Youth Ministry: Parents

Gaining healthy respect and influence in youth ministry can sometimes be challenging. Many youth workers are young and often feel like people see them as “the young kid.”  Even veteran youth workers feel like the title of “youth worker” devalues their influence. It’s true,  we do face stigmas and inaccurate perceptions. However, it doesn’t mean that we cannot gain the respect and influence that will help us build strong youth ministries…

Today, I want to encourage you to consider how you can gain healthy respect and influence with the parents in our ministries. As many of you know, having parents “on our side” can make or break the success of our ministries. Below are three things that when consistently worked on, will help us gain healthy respect and influence with parents in my ministry.

1) Set An Example And Stay The Course: This is perhaps the most effective way of gaining healthy respect and influence with any group of people in our church. Parents entrust their kids to us on a daily basis and it’s important that they see someone who is setting a consistent Godly example. It’s easy to get frustrated when people don’t give us time of day, but it’s also important to realize that trust takes time to build. Being a solid and consistent example will bear much fruit in time… Getting frustrated and defensive with parents will only go to confirm any negative ideas they might already have about youth workers… Set an example and stay the course…

2) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Parents are crazy busy with their kids schedules aren’t they? If you don’t realize this already, just consider the amount of times you get asked “repeat questions” about events and programs. Parents often don’t remember because they are so busy… It’s no reflection on you, it’s simply the reality for busy parents these days. Therefore, in my ministry, I make it my goal to over-communicate with my parents! It’s also key for me is to use different modes of communication and ensure that I give parents LOTS of lead-time before an event. Communicating effectively goes a long way to gain parent cheerleaders who will one day become your greatest advocates…

3) Recruit Parents To Be Your “Eyes and Ears”: Take time to consider who can help you see through the eyes of a parent…But, make sure you you pick a cheerleader type who will balance honesty with encouragement. Give them full permission to point out any areas of weakness in your program that could be improved to help their kids or other parents. I have learned so much from these types of parents and I have won respect when I take time to listen to their ideas and opinions.

There are many more things I could add to this list, but these are the ones I try to focus on the most. What have you found to be successful in gaining healthy respect and influence with parents?

Phil <><

4 Responses to Gaining Healthy Respect & Influence In Youth Ministry: Parents

  1. Cedric Lundy February 21, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    Great post Phil… My youth ministry professor use to drill into us that we are youth and family pastors, not just youth pastors. Having been in full-time vocational youth ministry now for almost 8 years I would say that there are two things that have helped me gain the respect of the parents aside from what you’ve already mentioned.

    1. Being Here. Last I heard the average stint of a youth pastor in one location is 18 months. There is no possible way you can build trust amongst parents if they can’t see that you are committed to the long haul in that place. If parents suspect that you are looking for the “next best thing” they won’t invest in you. On the otherhand there is no better advocate than the parents for whom you’ve sheperded all their kids through adolescence.

    2. Dressing the Part. This is a little thing that can go a long way. For the last decade or more most of us were trained to understand the importance of being and even appearing relevant to teenagers. For whatever reason no one told us we should do the same for parents and adults.

  2. Leneita February 21, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Phil,

    Wonderful post. You know this is the passion of my soul. I especially love what you had to say about communication not being a reflection on us. Just this morning my daughter reminded me it was picture day. Yes, a letter came home. I read it. I forgot about it. It happens often. My brain is mush. I would also say- “Don’t Push Parents Out of the Way.” The attitude can be that we become the replacements of the parents. We push them aside and act like we are the ones charged with raising their kids. Let’s make sure that we are always putting parents back in the place of being the parents and we don’t take rights that aren’t ours to take.

  3. Phil Bell February 21, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Cedric! Great to hear from you mate! Great thoughts on this too! I totally agree with longevity! I think it should be every youth workers goal to stay as long as possible. Years in ministry = greater influence!

  4. Phil Bell February 21, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Leneita, great insight from your parent perspective! I think us youth workers without teenagers in our house don’t realize what it looks and feels like to be a parent of a teen.

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