You could tell these parents were totally devastated. Their son was in trouble and they needed someone to help out. In the past I felt helpless in these situations. I would sit in a tension of:
WANTING TO HELP and WANTING TO PROTECT MY TIME
As a youth minister you are commissioned to not only serve teenagers, but their families. Just as you want to set each teen up for success you want to make sure you do the same with parents. That’s great, but:
- How do you do that without over extending yourself?
- How do you make yourself available to both teens and parents?
- How is your ministry not just teen friendly, but family friendly as well?
It’s by creating the right systems and pathways. To set up the parents in your ministry for success you need to:
Overwhelm Them With Resources
There is no perfect guide to parenthood. Parents like teens will search everywhere (including the Internet) if they need answers to their questions. While you do not have all the answers provide a place with some. You can do that by:
- Creating workshops with guest speakers.
- Sharing resources on a Facebook page.
- Build a page on your website that points to books, conferences and websites.
- Create a newsletter pointing them to the right events and literature.
You don’t have to use all these ideas, just start somewhere. Let parents know that you care about them growing as a parent.
Challenge Them To Grow On Their Own
Parents who are growing deeper in their own spiritual journey will be more successful in helping their own teens grow. Challenge parents to plug into mission work, ministry and small groups. Give them resources to grow through scripture and prayer.
If your church does not provide opportunities for adults to grow bring it to your pastor. Start a conversation on how your church needs to be one of growing disciples of all generations.
Give Them A Clear Path Of Communication
Let parents know the quickest and most successful way of touching base with you. If you are not good at email let them know they need to call you. That way they won’t grow frustrated waiting for you to reply to something they sent five days ago.
Set up boundaries (i.e. don’t call on Fridays when you are off) so that you can protect your time. At first it might seem rude, but then they’ll know when you are available. This will prevent you from building resentment because they are constantly invading your personal time.
Partner Them Up With Another Adult
You cannot be available 24/7. Build up your youth ministry by building up your team. Introduce parents to the adults in your ministry. Make sure they know their teen’s small group leader. Make sure small group leaders know their teen’s parents. Volunteers are key to extending your capacity.
Include Them In On The Journey
Parents are not always going to get a clear report of what their teen is experiencing. While you cannot force the conversation you can encourage it. Look at different ways of clueing parents in on what you cover as a ministry. That might mean:
- Creating a newsletter that covers the subject.
- Making available online your small group questions.
- Record your messages and share them online or through a podcast.
Be transparent with what you do so that parents don’t feel left alone in the dark.
In the end it’s not about doing more but being clear with what you do. The more parents feel included in your ministry the more confident they’ll be in you. Include them in, love them and invest in them. It will be worth it.
How are you setting up parents for success in your ministry?