Parents as Allies in Youth Ministry: 3 Things You Can Do to Work with Parents
We all have fears.
We all have things that we try to avoid at all costs.Spiders, snakes, and heights are common. Band-Aids and whales not so muh, but I did have a couple of students afraid of those too. As youth workers, we’ve all shared a common fear at one point or another…
The fear of parents.
I spent the first five years in youth ministry avoiding parents at all costs. Maybe it was fear. Maybe it was intimidation. Maybe it was a lack of confidence. Maybe it was just pure ignorance. But, I avoided them nonetheless.
Then I decided to stop avoiding them, and I realized that there really wasn’t anything to be afraid of…we’re all on the same side after all.
[bctt tweet=”Parents aren’t the enemy of youth ministry that we sometimes make them out to be.” username=”ys_scoop”]
In fact, parents can actually be allies, and even your biggest fans, if you stop treating them like spiders and snakes.
Once I got over my fear of parents, I started treating them more like allies instead of enemies. I leveraged their influence and gained their trust. And, I found that a parent’s trust may be the biggest asset you can have as a youth worker.
With a parent’s trust, your freedom to be the leader God has called you to be in a student’s life grows exponentially. Without a parent’s trust, you have little freedom to lead.
So, how do you treat parents like allies instead of enemies? How do you gain a parent’s trust?
3 Things You Can Do to Work with Parents
Let me give you three basic things you can do to make parents allies in your youth ministry:
1) Communicate with them.
Communication can happen in a lot of different ways, but whatever way you choose make sure that it’s happening regularly. Most parents still use email and Facebook regularly, so I will send out a weekly email update on what’s happening in our youth ministries. In that email, I’ll include details like meeting times and places, and what we’ll be teaching on that week. And, I’ll use Facebook to remind parents of upcoming events, deadlines, or last-minute program changes.
2) Meet with them.
Meeting with parents takes time, but it’s time well spent. Whether you have regularly scheduled parent meetings (we do parent meetings four times a year), or you have intentional interactions with them, building relationships with parents is a great way to earn their trust. Some great times to interact with parents are before or after youth group. You might be surprised at how much trust you can earn by having even a short parking lot conversation or chat outside the youth room. If parents know that you are available and are interested in getting to know them too, they will quickly become your ally.
3) Include them.
Including parents in youth ministry doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In other words, there are ways to include parents in your ministry without having them hover over you and their kids all the time. And, there are things you can do to include them in some parts of your ministry rather than exclude them from everything. We’ve found that including parents on mission trips and other seasonal trips and events is one great way to include them. It gives them the opportunity to create new shared experiences with their kids and interact with other parents and leaders. Plus, it’s a great trust-builder for them to see you in action outside of the church building.
One more thing on including parents…leverage student’s homes as much as possible in your ministry. Whether it’s using a student’s home for a weekly small group, or having a summer BBQ at a youth group family’s house, being on a student’s home turf can be a great way to include parents.
These are just a few things you can do to make parents allies in your youth ministry. What are some other things you’ve done to build parents’ trust and work with them instead of fearing and avoiding them?
Jason Matthews is a youth pastor in Washington state, where he’s been serving students for over 20 years. When he doesn’t have to be in the office, he loves to be outside with his family, hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest. He also loves to write, and you can find more of what he writes about at one of his blogs (www.verseotheweek.wordpress.com & www.pjasonmatthews.wordpress.com).
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.