You may have heard or it may be your inclination to really get the parents involved in their child’s youth ministry. A lot of times that is left up to a nebulous idea and is never fleshed out in a practical way that you can use and develop in your own situation. Hopefully, we can work together, share ideas and develop a workable plan that is adaptable to many different locations and Corps sizes. Before we get there; you have to ask yourself a series of questions. (1) Do we want parents involved? This means more preparation work and allowing parents much more oversight in your ministry activities. (2) Are you prepared or equipped to deal with whole family dynamics? If we are honest, some of us have become very comfortable dealing only with the children. (3) Is this important to you? With so many extracurricular activities vying for young people’s attention it will be a battle to get families together past a drop-off of their children.
First, I can tell you right off that it is worth it. Don’t believe me? OK, how many hours do you get your kids for a week? Compare that to the hours they spend at home or at school per week. That pales in comparison, right? If you can’t do anything about school, why not work on the other opportunity? Besides, studies show that the impact of parents on a young person’s spiritual life far exceed our impact as youth directors or the church as a whole. But we should never aim for one out of the crowd. Aim for the crowd and if you only manage to get one, Hallelujah!
Second, if it’s worth doing then it is worth doing right. Be organized and develop your communication skills to the point where parents feel like they know everything they need to about your programs for their children months in advance. If you want volunteers, ask a semester in advance before PTA boards get a chance to snag their volunteer hours. When doing so, start small. We can chase away the best volunteers by asking them to jump head first and do too much right off the bat. So whether this means a monthly newsletter to parents, email blasts, face to face conversations…being organized and communicating well is the best way to display that ‘we love your kids’, ‘we are serious about this’ & ‘this is not a simple babysitting service’.
Finally, here are some tips to get started. (1) Offer & Invite. I know many of you have tried this but it is always the first step. Just give the first opportunity for them to come and view what you do with their children. (2) Make a point to seek out parents & share with them positive things you see in their specific children. This will communicate first off that you know their child, that you care about their child and you are looking for the best out of their child. (3) Be a family-ministry content monger. Spend some time looking up good quality family devotions that you can offer families if they are not able to commit to a regular youth activities. This will help communicate that you care more about their spiritual well-being than your stat sheet. (4) Treat everyone the same…Be it parents, guardians, grandparents, active or inactive. (5) Look for what is not being offered and utilize your strengths. Do you happen to notice a lot of young new mothers in your community? Why not start a ‘New Moms’ outreach that teaches basic lessons and allows for community between people in similar life situations? Start Insanity/P90X Night for dads of your youth group. Parent Book Club. Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University classes. (6) Create opportunities for parents to come alongside their kid within your ministry. Like Teri in AOK, start a community garden where adults and kids work together to grow fruits & vegetables.
What do you do to get parents involved? Please share your ideas so we can all be more effective.