In our ministry we have, historically, talked a lot about the importance of partnering with parents. You probably do too, but what do we mean when we say it?
Partnership can take many forms. For example, consider this fictional man:
Bob Lahblaw is a married lawyer who works in at a major firm and gets together with a college friend three times a week at the gym to work out.
In that short sentence we see 3 vastly different “partnerships.”
- As a married man, Bob’s spouse is a partner.
- In the law firm, he has business partners.
- In the gym, he has a workout partner.
Can you imagine if Bob started approaching his workout partner in the same way he approached his business partner? Or what if he took the same attitude toward his spouse that he did his workout partner? It wouldn’t be long before Bob would be bankrupt and divorced, right?
Here’s the point. We can say we want to partner with parents, but what does that look like?
In our ministry, we’ve taken some time to do a little DTP (Define The Partnership) so parents are clear about what we are there for AND we can stay on mission.
Here are a three core biblical values we are holding to our partnership:
- Our partnership will be rooted in the GOD THINGS over the GOOD THINGS. In the same way Paul talks to the church in Philippi about their “partnership in the gospel,” the parents of your ministry need a partner who is laser-focused on the spiritual development of their kids. Be that partner! There are a lot of people partnering with parents to develop students academically, athletically, etc. Although some of these teachers and coaches may be Christians, there are limitations on what they can do, as well as other motives to the investment. We care about one thing…students encountering an authentic relationship with God. Keep that in mind and make it known!
- Our partnership puts us in a support role. Deuteronomy 6:4-8 makes a clear statement that parents are to be the primary spiritual authority and investors in their kids’ lives. We are there to support them in their efforts. As we keep this in mind, we may find ourselves stepping back a little when there is a clash of philosophies with parents. As we communicate it with parents, they are reminded that you are not the spiritual dry cleaner left in charge to “straighten their kids out.”
- The Partnership Model: We are Aaron and Hur to their Moses. Exodus 17 tells this bazaar story of the Israelites fighting the Amalekites. In the battle, the Israelites were winning as long as Moses’ arms stayed in the air with his staff in hand. In order to keep his arms in the air when he got weary, Aaron and Hur came on each side of him and held his arms up. You and I are to be the Aaron and Hur to the parents of our team. When they are growing weary, we can come alongside them through prayer, affirmation and encouragement. Outside of promotion, this is where use social media, texting and email the most.
We also want to equip and empower parents as we partner with them, but the above three are the ones we have sought to focus on and clarify to parents.
Is it time for you to have a “Define the Partnership” in your ministry?
Derry is the Student Ministries Pastor at Nappanee Missionary Church and a DYM author. We just released his NINE of his resources specifically geared toward partnering with parents. You can buy all 9 (valued at $50) for $25 (a ridiculously good deal!) in our Parents Superpack.