If you've been in youth ministry for any amount of time, you've discovered that it isn't just about youth. Parents, guardians, grandparents, 2nd cousins . . . Our ministries have a much wider impact than we sometimes remember! Especially as it pertains to students' parents or guardians.
How do we make sure we are maximizing our impact on our students' parents?
Here are five "best practices" I try to consistently implement with our students' parents or guardians. These are simply my way of making sure my impact can be as positive and effective as possible.
Keep Consistent Communication
If you say you're going to update the web, keep the Facebook up to date, mail out letters/newsletters regularly, etc., then do it! It's better to be consistent with how you communicate then inconsistent. However that doesn't mean everyone is going to like how you communicate. We primarily use our churches website for updates & postings, but that doesn't mean parents always check it. But when parents call me and ask for info I know I can say, "did you check the website" before I respond to them. Sometimes we need to help coach the parents as much as the students in communication updates.
If you plan on meeting a parent at 10, be there at 9:50. Something that seems to hurt youth pastors' reputations is misusing the time people give us. Where I live people are on the go NON-STOP, and I'm sure they are where you live, too. If I am 10 minutes late to a meeting, it shows a huge amount of disrespect to that person. Be on time and if you are going to be late, be sure you have their phone number to call them & give them a heads up. Be prompt with your start & end times for program elements. Be sensitive to the lives that people are trying to live outside of the ministry they are a part of.
If there's a single issue that plagues the reputation of youth pastors more than any other I think it's when we show a lack of organization. Seriously Youth Pastors! Buy some folders, use a filing system, find someone who can run Excel documents to help you out . . . It'll expand your ministry's impact on parents: when they call, you're able to provide immediate information. You have your act together! Some of you might not be organizationally inclined. God has gifted you in other areas. But that just means you have to try harder to be as organized as possible. If you're trying to do everything, that will only make your issues worse. Maybe it's time to give away some admin tasks to a volunteer, or a parent whose strength supplements your weakness. (Or maybe you can beg your senior pastor for some help!) Whatever you do, get organized. Once you get there then stay there!
Be In Prayer
Pray for parents. Send them note cards or text messages informing them that you pray for them. Ask them on Sunday how you can pray for them throughout the week. They have a harder job then we do! And if we don't realize that, then we're na√Øve. Pray for your students' parents!
Be A Voice Of Spiritual Conviction For The Ministry
You need to lead as a pastor. Lead with spiritual conviction over personal preferences. Listen to Jesus over critics. Spend time in the Scriptures and let them massage your soul. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you and your ministry. Be open & sharing of those ministry leadings when around parents/adults so they realize that you aren't just making casual decisions.
I am fairly confident that this list could be 100 bullet points long, but for me this are some biggies.
What "best practice" would you add?