I’m pretty new to the parent-of-a-high-schooler game, my oldest son is now in our Junior High Ministry and is absolutely loving it. It is an exciting time for him to finally be in our youth ministry, and an exciting time for me as a parent! I have gobs of respect and love for an incredible youth ministry team, and am so thankful they work so hard in these areas that now I feel more than ever.

For years I’ve done some form of parent ministry in our youth group. We’ve done all sorts of things – parent newsletters, parent workshops, parent library and so much more. I thought I knew what parent of teenagers really wanted becase of a book, workshop or someone selling me something. As a parent in these early stages of youth ministry in my own home, I’m starting to think about parents and value unexpected things in parent ministry. Here are a few of them fresh from my life:

I need … really great communication
The youth ministry website is mote important to me than anything else. When I can’t find the registration forms for Winter Retreat or the PDF of the packing list for summer camp it makes my life difficult. And since I didn’t think about that event until the night before I need to be able to find it in one click. Proactive communication saves me. Great emails, consistent texting and a great website are what I need almost more than anything. Do this right and I’ll love you forever.

I need … availablity in a crisis
I need you when I’m in a pinch. When my son experiences his first death in the family, the first breakup of his girlfriend, the highs and lows of junior high. I’ll support him as a dad, but he needs other strong voices in his life. He needs more wisdom, more shoulders, more laughs.

I need … affordable events
Summer camp is a huge investment in my son or daughter’s spiritual life. I’m ready to pony up for it. But if a youth ministry is expensive over and over again eventually it is going to frustrate me. An expensive event is tough on the family. I know they have to happen from time to time, and I love them as a youth worker, but free events and keeping in mind hte family budget when planning events is so, so helpful.

I need … lots of grace
Here’s the truth – when a parent showed up 45 minutes late I always grumbled when they were so lazy or just assumed they were at a movie and completely forgot about their son. I was frustrated by the flakiness of parents. Then it happened to me. I got a call from my son’s small group leader asking if he should just give him a ride home. Whoops! I got tied up and was 45-minutes. I’m such an idiot … trying to be a great dad but sure needing the grace of the youth ministry.

So that’s what I’m learning so far as a youth worker and a parent of a teenager. Anyone else have some insight here?