As the new school year gets rolling, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to communicate, encourage, and partner with parents. Here are three thoughts to consider as you think about caring for the parents in your ministry.
1. The Back to School Letter…
If you have any kids attending school, you know that at some point, you will get a letter from the school. This letter serves a number of purposes, but usually, (at least in my experience) the letter reveals important information such as, teacher name, room assignment, class schedule, and perhaps a school material shopping list. Sometimes, we’ve even receive a card or note from a teacher with some kind words of encouragement and a teaser for what the new school year might hold.
I love the idea of these letters because they give you simple, yet important details that your child might need to know for that first day of school. The idea isn’t just great for school, but transferable for your ministry. For a number of years, I have send a short letter of welcome and reminder to the parents of our students with a simple list of important information they will need to know for our first night back as a student ministry. I try to be careful not to ramble on about all the in’s and out’s of the ministry. Instead, I focus on the important things such as start and end times, where to drop off and where to pick, meeting dates, maybe the first month calendar, a link to our website, Facebook, and other social media outlets, and an attached flier for our kick-off event.
2. The Student Ministry Calendar…
Now this one might be a little tricky, depending on how you plan in advance. But I have always thought it helpful to give my parents as much advanced notice as possible, especially in the area of the ministry calendar. Whether it’s 1 kid or 5 kids, most families work around a school year schedule. It might include school sports, club sports, music lessons, community groups, etc. Not to mention the schedule of the parents themselves. So to help keep students and parents plugged in, I have always published a calendar for the school year.
Now some years I did it quarterly, presenting a three month calendar. Other years I worked a six month calendar. And there have been years where I posted a full 12 month calendar. It doesn’t matter whether it’s three month, six month or 12 months, what’s important is that you’re giving parents an advanced look at what the ministry is planning. The sooner parents know what you and your team are thinking, the easier it is for parents to know and support the ministry.
This is especially true for retreats, summer camps, mission trips, or other large group events. If the families know your dates in advance, they can better plan vacations and family time around what you are trying to accomplish. So get your calendar together, and get it into the hands of your parents, ASAP!
3. Parent Volunteer List and Needs…
I think for most youth workers, we try to recruit help from adults who do not have students in the ministry. Sometimes parents make great youth workers, and sometimes having parents as leaders can be difficult for you and the student. But don’t discount the value of having parents as part of your student ministry. Parents make great volunteers, and great cheerleaders.
In every student ministry there are jobs and tasks that need to happen that don’t require one of your adult leaders. These jobs are great for parent volunteers. Whether it’s helping out in the office making copies, folding papers, proof reading your printed materials, or helping with events and activities as chaperones or additional staffing. Parent volunteers are a great resource.
Remember, you want parents on your side. Being proactive in communicating important dates and activities is a win. And, inviting parents to be part of the ministry could score you some major points.
Written by, Jay Higham.