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Connecting with parents can be challenging. When they aren’t working, they’re busy being a teacher, their child’s personal uber, a diaper changer, house cleaner, bill payer, and family scheduler, all on top of everything else that comes with being a parent. Needless to say, parents are BUSY! If you’re a parent, you know this. You feel this. And you can probably relate to what it’s like trying to keep your head above water in your everyday life!
With that understanding, it can be an easy temptation as a youth worker to not feel the need to connect with parents. But what if, as a youth worker, you made connecting with your parents one of your ministry’s priorities? To do that, you need to have an end goal in mind. That end goal is to build relationships with them, develop a community for them, and help create a culture where they know they are the primary spiritual influence in their kids’ lives. Effective parent ministry doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It’s not done in one meeting but in everyday ministry!
Here are a few tips for connecting with parents:
Everyone loves clear communication. Make it a goal for your ministry to offer clear and consistent communication. In our ministry, we send out a parent e-mail every other week. This e-mail includes what we are teaching, upcoming events, and any other important information relating to the ministry or church. In our church database, we have one big group for student ministry parents that allows us to send out one bulk e-mail. As you send e-mails, work towards giving them the basics of what they need. They don’t need ALL the details about EVERYTHING coming up but just the main things that are most important now. Parents are flooded with e-mails about work and school, so the last thing you want is yours to get lost in their inbox. Create a visually appealing e-mail and keep it consistent.
We also have a parent ministry Remind texting group. We (like so many others) take advantage of the free texting service from Remind, and we can send our short and quick parent messages out. We send one every Wednesday to remind parents about youth group service and what we are selling in the cafe for dinner.
Another option for communicating could be through a student ministry parent Facebook Group. This is different from a page because it allows parents to post or ask questions and creates an online space for parent community. You can post helpful parenting articles or resources and start some really cool conversations.
One last reminder that’s a big pet peeve of mine…make sure you return texts, e-mails, and calls from a parent. Nobody likes to be left on read. If a parent reaches out, be prompt in your response!
It may be new, but look to create a fresh feel for parent ministry. Shift your perspective to WANT to get them involved and connected in your student ministry. One thing we offer in our ministry is called a Parent + Leader Connection. We do this over breakfast, but it’s an opportunity for our parents to have intentional face time with their kids’ small group leaders. Each year we do this, our parents and leaders walk away thankful that they had opportunities to connect with each other. This gives parents a chance to share with the leaders anything they need to know about their kids and vice versa.
Connecting parents with leaders can be really helpful, but go the extra mile and look for ways to connect parents with other parents too. Offering an online parent ministry group can be one way to accomplish this, and it takes minimal effort on your part. Planning a parent meeting once or twice a year is another way to get parents in the room together to talk about ministry and what’s coming up.
You could also offer a free seminar for parents to come and be encouraged and equipped in parenting. We’ve had GREAT responses whenever we offer parent seminars at our church. Here are some topics we’ve covered: anxiety and depression, navigating smartphones, college admission help, and a biblical model for parenting. The great thing about offering these is that you can pay someone to come in and teach parents what you may not have the margin to teach or prepare for.
I’m just going to go out and say it. I love when parents of kids in our youth group serve in our ministry. When your serve team is made up of parents, it creates great buy-in because they want to help maximize the youth group experience since their own kid is attending. We have parents who serve in a variety of positions. We have some who will drive a bus, run a check-in station, pass out food, lead small groups, help with tech, or anything else we can think of.
We want our parents to serve, and I believe so many of them serve in our ministry because we’ve created ways for them to do this and have worked to create a parent ministry culture of serving in our ministry.
A lot of our time in student ministry is spent fostering relationships with students. That’s a good thing and probably what you enjoy the most. But don’t neglect developing relationships with the parents. Go out of your way to talk to them. Look for opportunities to brag on a kid to their parent. Look for ways to celebrate what a parent is doing. As youth workers, we need to build relationships with parents and let them know we are here for them and want to help them. It’s important to build those relationships with parents so that when the hard times come, you can walk alongside them!
Look for ways outside of the church walls to build those relationships. Maybe once a month, you take a dad out for coffee or have a group of parents over to your house for a meal. Give them a chance to voice what’s going on in the lives of their kids and how you guys can partner together to disciple their kids. Be approachable with parents and value their relationship.
Parent ministry can be hard. If you’re not a parent, look for a set of parents you can get to invest in your ministry and use them to help you. Parents of teenagers can relate to other parents of teenagers, and you can use that to your advantage.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- In what ways are you connecting with parents in your ministry?
- What challenges are you facing when it comes to parent ministry?