Building Credibility With Parents

Jen Willard
March 14th, 2019

Parents will be your greatest supporters or your biggest hurdle. This youth ministry truth is one that has passed the test of time. Learning how to team up with parents is one of the core jobs of the youth pastor. So, why is it so hard for us to build credibility with parents? The good news is, it doesn’t have to be! 

My first few years in youth ministry, I did my best to avoid parents and focused solely on serving their students. I assumed that it would be enough to do great youth ministry and gain credibility with parents somewhere along the way. There is a better way! Building credibility with parents is something you should be spending hours on each week because it will make your ministry stronger and build a base of support for your youth ministry. Here are some ideas to help you get started: 

Open Lines of Communication 

Parents want to know what is happening in the lives of their student. Host parent meetings, post pictures of their students on your social media pages, and send weekly updates through carrier pigeon if you have to! It takes time to do communication well and it can be difficult staying on top of current emails for parents, but opening up lines of communication let’s parents know that you are available and the youth ministry is a safe place for their students to learn and grow. 

Transparency will help grow trust with the parents who are already wondering what their teens are doing most of the week. Parents of teenagers are often the last to know what their teenagers are up to, but we have the unique opportunity to be the one place that their student goes during the week that the parent doesn’t have to worry about them. Share stories with parents, tell parents what series you are on, and open the floodgates of encouraging communication with them. 

Share Vision 

Communicating to parents about the next youth Nerf war and pizza party isn’t enough. Parents in your youth ministry need to know how to invest in your vision. Explain to every parent what your goal for their student is and how you want to help them succeed as a parent. What are the key things that you want to communicate to students before they graduate out of your ministry and how can parents help? (If you don’t know the answer, start here before proceeding). If you can encourage parents to be an active part of your vision for the youth ministry, they will feel much more invested in their student’s spiritual life.

If you are willing to take time to share the vision God has given you for their student’s, you may also end up with some great parent volunteers. Some parents would be willing to cook food for your students, help plan fundraisers, host a small group gathering, and chaperone your next weekend retreat, but they need to know your vision for the youth ministry! Include parents in your vision. Other than being the key in their student’s spiritual formation they could also be your biggest cheerleader. 

Minister to The Parents 

Parents have it hard. As the youth pastor, we are able to have fun with students outside of the stresses of everyday life and talk about their rough days at school with ease. But then, we send them home. I’m going to let you in on a youth ministry secret, parents are part of your ministry too. Parents need your prayers. Parents need your encouragement. Parents need you to listen when they vent about their teenager’s bad driving habits. You are as much of a minister to the parent as you are their student. Don’t miss out on building credibility with parent! 

I want you to spend the next few minutes imagining where your ministry could go if you start reaching out to parents as much as you do their students. Don’t be afraid to go out to lunch with a parent or invite a whole family over for dinner. Fact, parents spend more time with our students than we do. Pouring into them and helping to strengthen their relationship with God is strengthening our students and building the Kingdom of God at the same time. That sounds like a youth ministry win to me! 

Jen Willard

Jen Willard has been in full time youth ministry for 5 years and is currently the Youth Pastor at church in Little Rock, AR. She loves continually learning about ministry and is a graduate of Nazarene Theological Seminary’s MDiv program. Jen loves drinking coffee and traveling to new places with her husband Bryan. Follow her on Instagram at @duckjd.

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.