My entire thinking of youth ministry began changing as my own teenagers became part of my youth ministry. Prior to that, I wasn’t anti-family, I just didn’t give parents/families the attention that they deserved/needed. I was all about building our youth ministry and discipling teenagers and didn’t realize how I was hurting the families by not engaging and caring for them like I do now.
For the next three days I will present 10 ideas of how a youth ministry can/should be more family-friendly. These ideas wont’ require you to change your entire youth ministry paradigm, but they will move the needle in a more positive direction for families. Here are the first three:
1. Give em dates: the earlier you can communicate important dates to parents, the more you’ll help them. Families plan. They plan around the important dates of their teenagers. If you (as a youth worker) spring a last minute date on us, you will create tension in our home. We made plans for our family and “now” our kids don’t want to go because of a youth group activity we are just now hearing about. That pain could have been avoided by early communication. The earlier the better.
2. End on time: it’s really frustrating to drive to pick your kid up at a specific end time and waste time by sitting in the car. When you give parents a “pick up” time make sure you end on time. Just like you’re frustrated when parents keep you waiting to pick their kid up, they’re also ticked when they have to wait for your meeting to end. Respect parents by getting them home early (or at least on time).
3. Get em talking: don’t assume that teenagers go to their home and begin talking to their parent(s) about what was addressed at youth group. Also, don’t assume parents are going to ask and take the initiative to engage in spiritual conversations. When possible, either send kids home with questions to talk about, or email parents follow up questions, or post them on the youth group blog or website. For good parents, if they know what was discussed at youth group they talk about it in the car or at the dinner table. Give them some conversation aid and they’ll appreciate the effort.
Think family-friendly! I’ll have 3 more ideas tomorrow.