5 Tips for Building Better Partnerships with Parents
LISTEN TO THIS ARTICLE:
I’m a parent of a freshman in high school and a 7th grader. You could say that I’m in the trenches of parenting. I miss the days when a lollipop and a bandaid fixed most issues. The issues my kids and most other teenagers face today require much more than a trip to the Chick-fil-a playground (RIP). My husband and I delicately try to find the balance between instructing our teens and letting them form independence on their own. Thankfully, we have a village of people who have come alongside us in our parenting journey, so we do not have to do this alone.
Often, by the time students get into middle and high school, the parent involvement in student ministry has diminished. Students are dropped off at the door and picked back up when the time is over. It’s not uncommon to not see a parent at all. However, there’s something beautiful that happens when parents are engaged in the student ministry alongside their children.
You want the best for the students. You want them to grow in their faith and become adults that love and follow Jesus. So do their parents. When parents and the student ministry form a partnership, parents will view the student ministry as a lifeboat instead of the teen club on a cruise ship.
How can our student ministries bridge the gap between home and the church?
Clear is kind. Let parents know what’s going on in your ministry. If your parents are anything like me, the more in-your-face communication and gentle reminders, the better. Parents are busy. They need the details of events repetitively. Have a place they can get to quickly to get all the information needed for an event (i.e., social media page).
Brag on the students to the parents. Sometimes parents are so self-conscious regarding their parenting skills. They know their teen on a different level than you do. Things can be so hard at home. When they see that you love their child and want them to be a part of the ministry, the parents gain confidence in their parenting, their child, and the student ministry. Parents want to know that their child is not only welcome but wanted and valued.
2. Do Things with Excellence
Make excellence the standard. When students and parents consistently see your events and groups done with excellence, it pulls them in. They trust you and the ministry and want their kids to participate. This creates momentum. The students and their parents will begin to share about the good things happening within your group.
3. Include Parents
If you are struggling to have enough parent volunteers, ask them. Personally ask them to help with an event. Eventually, they will naturally want to be a part of the student ministry and events. For now, do the hard work. Pick up the phone, and give them a call.
**A word of caution here: be careful which role you put parents in. If you don’t know that parent well, let them start in a role that doesn’t put the parent in a teaching situation. We want parents that will pour into our students. Background check first, then let them serve pizza one night. After you get to know them and see their heart, you can invite them to invest in a teaching situation.
4. Make Your Volunteers the Heroes
The student volunteers can spend more time with the students than you ever will. They can show up at the student’s sporting events, band concerts, and talent shows. This communicates so much to the parents. When you bring in quality volunteers, your ministry will be changed. Your ministry does not need mere warm bodies to help volunteer. It needs people who love Jesus, buy into the vision of the student ministry, and are willing to get a little dirty.
5. Provide Opportunities for Parents/Teens Together
Often, parents aren’t connected with other parents. When their kids were young, it was easy to form friendships with other parents. Now that the kids are older, it can be a lonely time for parents. If parents can forge some friendships with other parents, they will be more invested in the ministry itself. This also provides a safe place for parents to spend time with their children.
Students will be in your ministry for around 7 years. You will pour into them, challenge them, encourage them, and support them well while they are in your care. Eventually, the students will graduate. They will move on to the next stage of their life. Long after they have lost touch with you, their parents will still influence their life. By building partnerships with parents, students will have a solid ground on which to live out their faith beyond the student ministry. Building partnerships between the church and the home is not only Kingdom-minded, but it’s one of the best things we can do for students.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- How do you currently go about building partnerships with parents? What works well and what doesn’t?
- What are some ways you can get parents more involved in your ministry? Do you believe that would benefit your ministry? Why or why not?
Ready for more articles and training? Check out these top posts!