Hands up if you’ve ever found that working with parents in your youth ministry setting can be tedious? I’m with you. I’ve been in and around youth ministry for nearly a decade in different ways, but it’s only now that I have begun to feel like I’ve made some headway in my partnership with parents.
For a long time, I thought that I struggled in this area of the ministry because I was younger than a lot of the parents that we saw each week and I actually wasn’t a parent myself.
Then, I had my daughter and thought things would change. Nope.
Then, I turned 30 and hoped that would help. Again, nope. Not really.
So, I stopped, and I thought about what I was trying to achieve through my own personal milestones and I came to a place of comfortable discomfort. Yes, it’s a thing!
ALONGSIDE, NOT IN FRONT OF
Every week, I have to remind myself that I am here in youth ministry to walk alongside parents and families, not in front of them. My team and I are here to partner with the families of our young people – we are here to create safe spaces for conversation, relationship, resource sharing and prayer. We are here to journey through the teenage years with our young people as an extra sounding board. We are added padding for these young lives as they navigate the terrain of the world, we are not here to take the place of the parent or caregiver.
Every time I meet a parent, I tell myself that I’ll be in their shoes one day…so what would I like to see when I walk up on a Friday to drop my grade 6 student off for the evening? Do I want to feel like I’ve turned up to a baby-sitting service, or do I want to see a culture of Jesus-loving young people who want my young person to be in relationship with Him as much as I do? Do I want to be supported as I seek do life with my teenager or do I want to be isolated from the Generations Ministry as they simply do their thing?
Parents may not want to be youth leaders – that’s ok, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t still be included. There are many ways to do this in your youth ministry without them actually having to commit to much!
This week, we’re hosting our first ‘Parent Learning Lab’ where we’ll showcase the current curriculum and where families can meet one another as well as our youth ministry Core Team. We also ask parents to drive buses if we’re off-site, come be a part of question and answer panels for discussion nights and host small groups in their homes for dinners. The opportunities for inclusivity are endless!
So, I’m still a little uncomfortable when it comes to partnering with parents – it’s a big responsibility to help shepherd young hearts – but I’m comfortable with that. It keeps me on my toes and encourages me to think outside the box, creating new spaces for engagement.
- Why might you be hesitant to engage with the parents of your teenagers?
- If you were a parent (and maybe you are!), what is something you’d appreciate from your teenager’s youth leaders? It might be a weekly email, a postcard once a term or a supper to meet other families – how could you make this a reality?
- What is just one way you might be able to include parents in this coming Advent season?