In my previous post I talked about ways in which you and I can partner with parents in our youth ministries. While you are called to youth ministry, it’s imperative that you adopt a ‘Think Orange’ approach (or whatever you want to call it), as we look to partner with parents. After all, the influence of parents on their kids is far greater than the influence you can have given the limited time you will have with them each week…
The two influences of family and church come together to make a greater impact on students. Therefore, it’s essential we find ways to partner with parents as they raise their kids.
Our Problem: Although you may already agree with this philosophy of ministry, if you are like me, there have been times when I have been unsure as to how to implement a strategy to partner with families. In this post we continue to look at the next 5 of 15 practical ways you can implement a strategy to partner with parents. Some are not rocket science, while some will challenge you…
6. Create and Communicate a Compelling Vision. Do the parents in your church know the youth ministry vision and how it is implemented? Before you quickly answer this question, take a moment to think about it. What is clear to you and I is not always clear to parents. Yes, I know you might have written it on the walls of the youth room and made a catchy video, but do parents truly know your vision and plans? How are you communicating it regularly?
When parents are repeatedly given a clear and compelling vision for youth ministry, they will more likely make it a priority for their kids.
7. Write a Note. You might think this is old school, but I’m here to tell you how much parents would love to get an encouraging note from you. So many parents feel inadequate and frazzled by parenting. The simple act of writing a note has the ability to change the week of a parent who wonders if they are truly making a difference. To get a note from the “youth expert” (yes, that’s you), is an incredible affirmation and encouragement. Question: What could happen if you wrote five notes a week to parents in your ministry?
8. Make Them The Hero! Whether it is written into your message outline, or whether you say it to a student face to face, it’s so crucial that we continue to build up parents in front of our students. Every student I have ever met seems to think that other parents are cooler and more understanding. It’s our job to help students to see their own parents in a positive light and point out qualities about them. Students will likely brush off these comments, but don’t underestimate the power of elevating parents to the ‘hero status’.
9. Involve Parents When Students Need Help. It should be natural that when a student is struggling we would involve their parents. However, I have often seen the care of a loving youth worker step in and take the place of the parent. In our care for students it is imperative we find ways to build bridges between students and their parents, in particular during times of pain and hurt. While students do not always want to share their hurts with their parents, it’s essential we look for ways to bring kids and parents together.
In a previous ministry a female student was struggling with depression and was clearly heading in a painful direction. At that time she was adamantly against her parents knowing and getting involved. Although it was challenging, we eventually were able to take small and slow steps to involve them and bring the family together. Although they all had to face some painful realities and revisit hurts from the past, I saw a wonderful student and her parents come closer to God and to each other in this time.
10. Create a Parent Connections Team. Who are the parents who care about your youth ministry, but don’t feel called to minster to students? Who are the parents who are well connected and would make great advocates for your ministry? Who are the parents who love to talk and send emails? These are the parents who can become your parent connections team who help communicate your vision, plan, programs, and events. They are the ones who can make phone calls to new parents. They are the ones who can remind people of deadlines for retreats and details for an event. They are the ones who can become your ‘fan base’ and supporters. More importantly, they are the parents who are involved…
Well, there’s five more for you. In my next post, I will share my final five. Feel free to share these with others and in my final post in this series, I would love to hear more ideas in the comments! Phil <><