I thought I knew it all about teenagers and their parents. I didn't realize how wrong I was until I became a parent. Granted I know there is still a lot to learn because my children are still small; however, one thing I do know is a parent's trust is essential. The reason my wife and I have chosen certain babysitter's, daycare providers and even certain children's products is because of trust. If there is no trust we will not invest our children with it or them.
A goal of every youth minister needs to be a trustworthy person in a parent's life. If you want your ministry to grow and go you need parent's behind you because they can be a very good reason why their teen shows or does not. Unfortunately, earning trust is not as simple as showing up, you need to:
- Communicate Constantly: Parents are inundated with information and responsibilities, saying it once will not do the trick. Communicate your programs, your announcements and your vision over and over again. You can not over communicate to parents what you do and why you do what you do. The more consistency they see in your communication the more they feel like they can trust your word.
- Stay Humble: Parents want the best for their kids; however, they also understand that you are human. If you make a mistake own up to it. If you don't know an answer don't make one up. A parent wants someone who is going to be honest and authentic and will be turned off by someone trying to impress them.
- Show Them Your Presence: You are there to walk with parents, not replace them. Show them your support by listening, allow them to take out their frustration, fears and joys on you. Help them see that you are there for the journey. When they see you are on their side they'll see you as a major ally.
- Help Them Grow: Your responsibilities for discipleship do not just happen within the church walls. Make sure you are encouraging the family to grow at home. That means equipping parents with resources, plugging them in to small groups, ministries and other opportunities that will help them grow confident in their relationships with Christ. When they see that you are helping them to grow, they'll know you are with them for the long haul.
Youth ministry focuses so much on the teens that it's easy to forget about the parents. You need the parents because they are essential to helping you grow disciples. Everything you do is a challenge and could be wiped away if a parent doesn't trust you. While you look to invest in students, look to invest in their parents.
How are you earning a parent's trust?