Sometimes being in youth ministry means I wish I only dealt with students. But if you have been in it for any period of time you quickly realize that this is not the case. You deal with students, your adult volunteers, your own church staff and parents. Sometimes I feel parents can be the hardest, for me at least if I am being honest. But when it comes down to it, there are 4 goals in which I try to have with every interaction with a parent.
Listen- I have heard of horror stories where parents don’t feel like the youth pastor actually listens to them when they are upset about something or bring up legitimate questions about the ministry. I think one of the most important things we can do is just to listen. Stop talking. Hear them out and see what concerns come up. Parents want to know they are being heard. Even if parents are being a little too much, we need to realize that they love your kid, plain and simple and they will fight for them, even if something seems unfair, what we need to do is listen to them and make them feel like they are being heard.
Affirm – I’m not sure who is more nervous about entering into our ministry, the incoming 7th graders or their parents. Affirm them in their ability to parent and you realize that their child is about to enter into the crazy teenage years. Affirm them and let them know they are going to be great and they will survive this crazy time and we are along for the ride with them. Just the other day I had a newly Christian mom come to me and see what the best way to handle a situation and I affirmed her letting her know that what she wanted to do was the right thing. If we do what we hope to do, parents will look at us as partners and want our input.
Inform – There is no such thing as over communicating. We let them know what a midweek service looks like by showing them a highlight clip. We made an intro to our staff video, walked them through what a service looks like, what events we had coming up for the summer with all of the details, how to sign up for our monthly newsletter and everything you need to know about summer camp. We gave it to them in print and no doubt about anything coming up. Information puts them at ease and its helpful and I think it shows them that we are prepared and we have things together. Their kids are in good hands.
Encourage – We are to partner with parents. We want to listen to them, affirm their feelings, inform them, and then encourage them. If you do the first 3 things you will have raging fans of your ministry. We let them know they are responsible for their child’s spiritual well being but we are to offer hope and help as we walk alongside them as they rise their child in Christ. We are to speak life into their family whenever we can.
What do you do for parents? How do you inform the new parents in your ministry? What works for you? What doesn’t? We would love to hear about it!