Ministering to Parents Strategically
Serving in student ministry for 15 plus years has allowed for many different scenarios to play out in people’s lives. One of the keys to a fruitful student ministry is to partner with parents. Students have many different things tugging at them from school, sports, jobs, and extracurricular activities. When it comes to church, we must partner with the parents of our students, so we do not add more stress or tension to the busy schedules of our students.
I have seen how the church needs to change or adapt to the parent’s and student’s schedules. The church needs to be strategic as they minister to parents and families. For some reason, I saw adjusting schedules and working around student schedules to mean that the church was losing. But, after some research and taking some years to think through the partnership with parents, there are five ways that you as a pastor, or a youth worker, can partner with parents to help develop a stronger student ministry.
One-year Tentative Schedule
I need to be honest with you. I am OCD about schedules and keeping that up to date with our parents. Having a one-year tentative schedule from every current month allows your parents to know what is planned down the road for the student ministry. Partnering with parents means communicating plans and events coming up in your ministry.
Parents can know when camp, pool parties, retreats, and other events are planned so they can schedule their family time and vacations. When we can have a schedule planned out, it allows parents to know that we value their time.
Disclaimer: Because you have a tentative schedule it does not mean the dates are all set and that you will guarantee to have more students coming. But you will have parents who know that you value them and their time.
A monthly newsletter offers a few different opportunities for your student ministry to partner with parents. Every month a newsletter goes out covering three different areas of our ministry.
- An article or blog for parents on teenagers- I just post a snippet or the full blog for the parents to have and read on their own time.
- Upcoming events- I know this seems very basic, but parents like to have a digital or physical copy where they can understand what that month has going on for their students. In my monthly newsletter, I am very detailed on times, places, and what is needed for that event. Parents have known for the last few months about the events coming up, but now the newsletter can share more information to help parents understand the event in further detail.
- Social Media button to our accounts- I add a Social Media button to our digital copy of our newsletter so that our parents can also be connected and follow us on our social media accounts. Why? Because when parents start following the student ministry accounts, they feel connected to what is happening within your ministry.
Invite Parents to Serve as Volunteers
90% of the volunteers within our student ministry are parents to current students. Our ministry loves having parents helping because they are walking beside our ministry discipling and living out the vision of our ministry. Having parents serve as volunteers mean they have bought into your ministry and the direction God leads your ministry. When parents buy into your ministry, they become one of your most prominent advocates and have your back. I love having parents serve on my team of volunteers because they are hard workers and build up our ministry within the community. They are partners with me in ministry.
Have an Open Communication/Door Policy for Parents
I know that this one seems very basic and one that should happen within student ministry, but for some reason, student pastors feel that questions mean they do not trust you. When, in reality, parents want to partner and understand our ministries. We must keep an open-door policy within our ministry.
Open communication and open-door policy means that you allow parents to contact you, ask questions, and serve beside you. I have found those parents who email and communicate with you the most, want to have a part of your ministry. Please understand some parents will question everything you do, but when you give them the “why” it allows them to buy into your ministry. When parents buy into your ministry because they know the “why” they will participate.
No matter where you serve right now, every student pastor needs to open the door and allow the partnership to begin with parents. When the connection happens, something amazing has just arrived in your ministry.
- Dr. Scott Talley