A healthy youth ministry should work to create a partnership with the parents — both are responsible for the spiritual education and guidance of their teenager, so why not work together? In many cases that is the heart, but the roadblock usually quickly follows. Here are some ideas on where to start:
Start communicating better
I don’t know what this means in your context, but for me it was a weekly parent newsletter (more details on that here). I’ve started to quickly realize that parents want a simple but comprehensive access point to what’s happening in our youth ministry. They don’t care necessarily about the tool, like I do, they just want to know where to go get it and want to know it’ll be there. Perhaps spend less time figuring out which latest social media tool to add to your overwhelming list and concentrate on the one people are actually using.
Host a freshman orientation night
We’ve regrettably only done this once but it was a huge hit (more details on that here). A huge win for a high school ministry is planning a bridge event to welcome incoming 9th graders and/or hosting a freshman parent orientation. It’ll help you have an early platform for vision and a chance to build a bridge into their home. Want to give off the feeling that your door is always open? Open your doors!
Invite them to participate
Want to win with parents? Partner with them. I’m not saying that they need to be small group leaders, or even help with youth services — but try to find ways to partner with them and invite them to participate. What if you started a prayer team? What if parents of upperclass were paired with underclass parents?
Fight to master the call back
I supposed this is on ongoing and learned behavior, but my heart is that parents will get a callback in 24 hours. Everyone expects their problem, need or crisis to get them immediate help, and even if it doesn’t necessarily, treat them that way. Nothing will help build your reputation and give you a quick win like promptly returning calls and giving parents your undivided attention.
Become a resource pointer
I am the parent of a 9, 7, 6 and 4 year old. I haven’t mastered parenting — I’m still in the thick of it. But what I can master is pointing them to great tools to help them become a great parent. Maybe consider a “book of the month” or “resource highlight” in the parent newsletter or church bulletin. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest parent (or a parent at all) to help them find a resource that could help them be even more effective raising their children.
What do you do in your ministry to partner with parents?