Partnering with parents in youth ministry is absolutely essential. When I speak to youth workers, usually we agree that partnering with the family is far more effective than living in a silo youth ministry that only focuses on the students.
But the problems is this: While most of us agree that partnering with parents is essential, many of us don’t know where to start practically…
In the book, Think Orange by Reggie Joiner, he makes a great case for using our time and resources to support parents. Each year the average youth ministry will have approximately 40 hours of teachable time with students, while parents will have approximately 3000 hours of teachable time with them. It makes simple sense to support parents and partner with them as they raise their kids…
But what can this look like practically?
In the next few posts, I will list 15 ways in which we can effectively partner with parents. Some ideas are easy to implement, while others will take a change of culture in your church.
1. Go Where They Go. Most parents have frantic lives as they try to keep up with their kids schedules, show up to sports, recitals, and performances. When you go to students events, have you considered that a huge part of your contact time is not just to show to support your students? You are there strategically to meet with and build trust with the parents of your students.
If you struggle to get parents to come to you, go to where they will be.
2. Over Communicate. Parents are swamped with information on a regular basis. If you are not a parent just take my word for it. Between school and clubs, there are million things to keep track of. Parents will thank you if you communicate regularly and in multiple places. Between social media, text messages, email, newsletters, and bulletin announcements, it’s imperative to over communicate your programs and events.
Give parents the option to opt out of certain modes of communication and lean on trusted parents to tell you when more / less communication is needed.
3. Schedule Way Ahead Of Time. Last week myself and my family were on vacation in beautiful West Michigan in an incredible cottage near lake Michigan. At the end of the week we got first option to book the cottage for the same week for next year, (which we did). This was the fourth year we have done this… Now, not everyone plans ahead like I do, but many parents are looking months ahead and, like us, know what vacation plans are in place for next summer. The youth worker who can plan way ahead is the youth worker who wins support and helps parents make the youth ministry a priority.
4. Resource Them. As a youth worker, you have access to the latest youth culture, data, and trends. Take time each week to find helpful information and pass it on to parents. What is common knowledge to you, might not be for parents.
Tip: Recruit some key parents to help you find helpful resources, books, or websites.
5. Create ‘Felt Need’ Parent Training Events. Not every church can pay for a speaker to come in and lead a parenting seminar, but consider just how many people in your church and community can train and equip parents. Consider empty nesters who are the ‘been there before’ parents who have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share? Or the local police department who can teach about online safety? Or consider a youth worker friend who can teach on youth culture. Do you have a local Christian college who would send someone to talk to parents about helping their kids survive college. Parents are desperate to find answers to issues that seem scary and challenging. Use people around you to teach, train, and bring peace to parents.
And the benefit is: If you can get parents to show up for a ‘felt need’ training event, you then have a doorway to talk about other pertinent parent issues, or an opportunity to promote your youth ministry.
In the next few posts, I will list 10 further ways to partner with parents. As you look back through this post, what is one thing you can implement in the next few weeks?