Part of working with students is working with their parents. It is not just a good idea; it is a must do practice in order to have a wholistic and effective ministry to students. Love them or hate them, we must partner with parents to disciple and lead our students to love and live for Jesus long term. If we can connect church and home life, we will see our students grow even more in their faith.

When it comes to new parents, they can be a handful at times. We can either get frustrated with them or we can lead in such a way that has them falling in love with your ministry. It doesn’t just happen and takes some proactive things on your part to successfully transition a new group of parents into your ministry.  Here are three keys to successfully partnering with new parents.

Connect with your kid’s ministry staff and talk specifically about kids and parents moving up

There is a difference in being prepared and gossiping. Do you best to talk openly with your team about new students coming into your ministry so that you have a heads up about potential issues or boundaries you may need to create. Whatever intel you get on these students and parents, do your best to keep an open mind with them in this transition. Just because your kids ministry staff had issues with a student doesn’t mean you will and just because the kids ministry staff loved a certain group of parents, doesn’t mean you will. If you foresee potential issues, move in their direction, make a phone call or set up a meeting. Don’t just sit back and see what happens. In my experiences, parents appreciate you wanting to proactively partner with them. This can also be a great tool for recruiting volunteers. The more by in you get from parents the more volunteers you can recruit.

Extend the transition

Find ways to make the transition into student ministry longer for those new students. Do your best to not let the first time they meet you or your space be on promotion Sunday. Plan some crossover events, go on retreats with the kids’ team, and have parent meetings just for them the summer before you come up. Find creative ways to extend the transition for these students and parents so that when its go time, they can’t wait to be in your ministry. So, drop into their Sunday morning classes or spend some time with the incoming group outside the normal scheduled events. Again, parents see you and they will appreciate you being proactive.

Understand that your parents are emotional

Your parents will get upset from time to time and it rarely is a personal attack on you. When it comes to anything my kids do, I am more emotionally invested. I am emotionally connected in wanting my kids to have great experiences and when this is not the case I am emotional. When you get the phone calls, emails or text messages do your very best to keep this in mind. They are emotional because it’s their kids. Sometimes their emotions will cause them to say and do things that are terrible. This doesn’t give them a pass; it just confirms to you that parenting is an emotional sport. So, next time you get the call or email, do your best to not blow it off or get frustrated. My advice to all leaders dealing with emotional parents, is to give at least 24 hours before you respond to an upset parent. Also, never email or text a negative reply. If you have to respond, do it over the phone or in person.

Communicate often and more than you think you need to

Lastly, over-communicate with these new parents. Send more emails, texts and social media reminders about events and trips. Everything is new to them and they will need some grace as they are figuring out student ministry for the first time like their kids. Walk slowly with them and they will be your biggest fans and supporters for years to come.

Bobby Cooley is a Discipleship Pastor in Katy, TX. He loves pouring into the next generation and their parents to build lifelong followers of Jesus.

He loves his wife and three blue-eyed kids, great BBQ, and the outdoors.

“I love being a part of DYM and helping youth workers win!” – BC