Partnering with Parents: How to Write Better Emails
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So there I was, sitting in an interview, with all the normal thoughts going through my head. “Am I answering this the way they want?” “Do I seem confident? But not too confident?” “Do my armpits smell bad?” All the while fielding the usual questions being lobbed my way…
- What are your strengths?
- How do you develop volunteers?
- What is your eschatological view of Revelation?
Ok, not really that last one…but then came the question that wrecked me: “What is one thing you’re terrible at doing?” Cue the enneagram 1 panic. I don’t fail at anything! How in the world do you expect me to answer this question?! Quick, gotta scramble for an answer. I can’t seem too pompous, though. And then it hit me, like a laser beam.
Partnering with Parents
And yeah, that’s honest. I am terrible at it. I’m not just making something up here. I mean, we’ve all read a book, gone to a conference, or heard some philosophy on the importance of partnering with parents. We know it’s valuable. We even believe in it. But 99% of what we do with our time is focused on teenagers, leaders, programming, or purchasing way too many pool noodles from Sam’s Club.
I’ve been at multiple churches, and partnering with parents is almost always the last strategy I ever get around to making. And let me be clear: I don’t have the answer to parent ministry, but I do want to share one hack that’s been helpful in my ministry over the last few months. Are you ready for it? It’s revolutionary…
Send better parent emails.
I, like most of you, send a regular parent email. Maybe yours is a monthly newsletter. Maybe you’re on the weekly cycle. Maybe you’re an overachiever, and you’ve unlocked a special superpower to be able to send a daily email. But once I made this one minor tweak to emails, I started seeing open rates go up. And in addition, perhaps more importantly, I started hearing back from my students’ parents. Yeah, they would reply to my emails!
Here’s how I typically approached parent emails:
PROBLEM: They want to know what’s going on.
SOLUTION: I will tell them what’s going on.
Look at me! Earning my keep at this church! But let’s be honest here, people…
First of all, BORING!
Second, if their student is uninvolved, it’s often not due to a lack of information. Any parent or student who truly wants to be involved will figure it out, even if your website is horrible. There is inevitably a “contact us” option to use. Or they can find you on Facebook and private message the church. Often the hurdles for a student not attending are higher and more unseen than any of us are willing to admit. So here’s the shift I made. I chose to start sending helpful emails.
Crazy right?! It’s not rocket science, but the minute I decided to share the info I thought parents might find helpful, the communication between my parents and me opened up. What’s helpful, you may ask?
- Information on Anxiety
- Information on Gen Z
- Information on Cell Phones
- Information on Relationships with Teenagers
- Information on Gender Identity
All of the things we, as youth pastors, are studying, researching, and discovering about teenagers. Guess what? Parents feel just as confused by all of this! And it’s just as valuable for them to know these things as well. Now, pretend you open your inbox and see an email from someone you trust with these 2 subject lines.
August Parent Newsletter
5 Gender Identity Questions Your Teen is Asking
Which of the 2 are you personally more likely to open? Which of the 2 meets a need for you at the moment? Which of these 2 ends up in the junk bin without even opening it?
The answers are obvious. So what does this mean for you?
Begin thinking about how you can reach out to families you’re ministering to with valuable and helpful content. Try to line up your emails with what you’re teaching so that the helpful content you give to the parents is reinforced by what you’re offering at church. The “right-hook” to your email is at the end of it when you can say something like this: “And guess what? We’re talking about God’s design for sexuality this month in our teaching series, so it’s a perfect time to come to youth group!”
Partnering with parents can feel like an ambiguous and challenging task. And there are 12 million great ideas out there. But for the average, overworked youth worker, there is one small shift you can make! And making one small communication shift can help open the door just a little bit more as you reach your families!
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- How often do you send out a parent email? What kind of information do you include in it?
- Where does partnering with parents fall on your ministry to-do list? How important should it be?
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