- Christopher Wesley
I’ll never forget the first time I was chewed out by a parent. I wanted to shut down and completely isolate myself from them. I remember thinking, “If parents didn’t have to be involved, ministry would be so much easier.” Parents can be one of the greatest challenges to your ministry; however, they can also be one of your greatest assets. If you want to be successful in youth ministry then you need to remember that parents matter because they:
Influence other parents.
Reinforce or contradict what you teach.
Fuel your ministry with their teens.If you aren’t always sure how to deal with parents, know that you are not alone. Even as a parent I sometimes struggle to meet their expectations. And while some of them can seem too high or unrealistic, it’s important that we do meet a parent’s expectation for:
1. Clear and Consistent CommunicationClear communication is the tool to building trust with parents. If they know what you are trying to accomplish and how you intend to do that, they will be more than willing to entrust you with their child. Don’t rely just on email or a flyer. Create opportunities to communicate what you are doing by calling parents on the phone, meeting one on one for coffee or even running a Facebook page. Find other parents who can help you communicate. Give them the information that is essential and the permission to speak on your behalf.
2. People Who Care Just as Much as They DoParents want to know that their teenager is more than just a number. They want to know that someone is helping them shape and develop their child into a better person. That’s why building a relational ministry is so important. If you want to show them that you care:
- Recruit volunteers who will connect with both teens and parents.
- Make sure your parent meetings are engaging and productive.
3. Opportunities to Be HeardEven though there are millions of other parents out there, it can still feel isolating at times. Giving them an opportunity to share their fears, struggles, triumphs and successes is a priceless gift. A parent who feels cared for is a parent who is going to feel like you love their family. They’ll see you as someone who wants the best for them and isn’t going to judge them. They’ll not only advocate for your ministry but your character.
4. Encouragement to GrowParents are constantly looking ways to improve and grow. You can help them do that by providing:
- Workshops where they can learn more about a specific aspect of parenting.
- Community through adult small groups where they can meet other parents.
- Resources that compliment what you are teaching their teens so that they can grow together.