5 Tips for Serving Parents Who Don’t Go To Church
As youth workers, we need to spend time thinking about how we can serve and support the parents of the students we serve; and that includes the parents who don’t go to church. Supporting and serving those parents can often seem difficult. You only see them for a few minutes when they drop-off or pick-up their kids, so you often don’t know them well enough to know much of anything about them.
But, it has always been my belief that when you’re called to minister to a student, you’re called to minister to that student’s family. And despite the fact you may not see much of them, a little bit of extra effort can lead to a lot of opportunity in fulfilling that calling.
So, here are a few key tips that may help you along the way . . .
Talk to your students about their parents.
This is really something you should probably be doing anyway, even if you’re not looking to engage with a student’s parents. But, It’s amazing what you can learn about parents if you spend time talking to their kids about them. They are one of the greatest tools you have at your disposal. Your students are often more engaged in what’s going on in their parents’ lives than they’d like you to believe. So, asking them about their parents not only shows the student that you care, but gives you the opportunity to learn about their parents, so you can begin to understand how to maximize your time with those parents when you do see them.
Maximize the minimal time you do have with those parents.
If all you’ve got for time with those parents is a few minutes before or after youth group, maximize that time. Take that time to learn about their lives. Ask them questions. Build those relationships. Talk to them about how much you value their kids. DON’T spend all that time talking about your program. Keeping the conversation focused on them and their family can really help you to show them you care, and can help you learn how best to serve and support them.
When you’re at your students’ events . . . sit with those parents.
When you’re at a student’s event, I understand the gravitational pull toward the parents who attend your church. You know them and have a lot to talk to them about. There’s pressure to serve those parents first. Even the draw of the bond of being brothers and sisters in Christ can pull you toward those parents. But, when you’re at a game or concert that includes students whose parents don’t attend church, you have a unique opportunity to begin to build a bond. First of all, you’re there, showing them you care about their kid. Plus, you have a really easy setting to build conversation from, since you’re at something that specifically involves their kid. The kind of conversations that can be had in those settings can be building blocks for strong relational ties that can lead to evangelistic opportunities.
Look for opportunities outside of the church context to serve those parents.
Very often, the reason why we find it so hard to serve the parents who don’t attend church is that we’re not willing to move outside our church context to do so. Connecting with these parents is, in fact, outreach. And much like we so often talk about with any outreach, we have to be willing to step outside of the walls of the church if we are going to accomplish our goals. So, begin by looking for opportunities to serve those parents. Maybe there’s an errand you can run for them. Maybe (once you know them well) you can offer to babysit their kids for them some night so that they can have a date night. Maybe you could even invite them out for dinner, your treat! The big thing is to learn what their needs are, and then there may be something specific to them that will help them out the most.
Don’t expect them to become strong Christians overnight.
Again, learning to serve parents who don’t attend church is an outreach effort. The majority of those parents may not even be Christians. So, our expectation, as with any outreach effort, should not be for instant transformation. We shouldn’t expect them to immediately be regular church attenders or strong disciples who lead their families well. So, be willing to go slow, and invest in those families over the long haul.
[bctt tweet=”Trust that God put those parents in your path for a reason, and trust Him for the results.” username=”ys_scoop”]
These parents probably won’t become strong followers of Christ overnight. But, because God has placed their kids in your midst, you’ve been given an opportunity; an opportunity to reach out to a whole family with the love of Jesus, a love we get to walk in daily.
MATT LARKIN serves as the Director of the Department of Student & Family Ministries for the Advent Christian General Conference (WWW.ACGC.US).In that role, he serves as a resource and consultant to youth workers and college students around the United States and globally. You can connect with Matt on Twitter via @MATTWLARKIN.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.