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Weigh In Volume 28: Parent Ministry That Works

 —  November 12, 2012 — 10 Comments

From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog that feels like we could answer together rather than me alone. What advice would you give this youth pastor who is asking about effectively ministering to parents? Weigh in!

I’ve been trying to minister to parents as well as volunteers and students – have had NO luck with anything for parents. I make resources available to them, no one shows up for my monthly meetings, everything I do seems to be met with “meh” … it is killing me and I can’t help but feel like a failure. Do you guys have parent stuff that IS working? Because I sure don’t!

Your turn, MTDB community … I’ll be back later this week with a few of the things we have planned in our next season of parent ministry – honestly I think it is time to overhaul a little bit and launch some new things, too!

JG

Josh Griffin

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10 responses to Weigh In Volume 28: Parent Ministry That Works

  1. Great question and a problem many of us face. In order to reach parents you need to increase your capacity. That means encouraging and empowering your volunteers to not just connect with the kids but with the parents. The best resource you can give to a parent is another adult who is going to care for them and their kids.
    It takes time to accomplish; however, start building in your ministry a culture where leaders are connecting, serving and working with the parents. I’ve found the best way to serve parents is by connecting them with the adult who is serving their teen. After that, all the resources and workshops you provide are icing on the cake.

  2. I guess the first thing I would ask is this:

    Were you already working your full allotment of hours *before* you started this idea of ministering to parents? If the answer’s yes, then that means one of two things:

    1. You’ve added on a huge piece. It’s either going to run you down or steal your energy away from the youth ministry.

    2. Your parent ministry is getting your leftovers, and that might be one reason that the response is meh.

    I agree with Chris. You need to find someway to increase your capacity, and since hiring a “parent minister” likely isn’t an option, I’d try to put together a team of parent volunteers to manage and own this ministry for you.

  3. This is a great question. We don’t have the answers but do have a few things that we’ve found helpful.

    1. Start small… We focused on excellence with a few key families.
    2. Offer opportunities to connect… For example we do a retro roller rink night for families, mom, dad, kids, everyone. This allows parents to meet each other and us in one space on one night. What this has done for us is that it’s allowed us to build relational coinage so when we want to invest or equip parents we’ve got someplace to draw from.

  4. I agree with all said above, but wanted to add this potentially encouraging addition:

    The fact that no one shows up to your meetings is understandably frustrating, but I think you could also take it to mean they are happy with the way things are going. If they had issues with you or the ministry, I feel like they would be more likely to show up.

    Maybe you could find ways to meet them on their territory. Sit with them at their kids sporting events and concerts, invite them out to lunch(they often will pay), and involve more parents in your weekly youth activities and bigger events as well. The more involved parents excitement should trickle down to other parents. Just food for thought.

  5. I’d recommend reading Church + Home by Mark Holmen. I used to do youth ministry….and now I do family ministry. It is most certainly not as easy but I do believe it is more effective. You can have the most dynamic youth ministry around and if those kids arent experiencing faith at home…it’s going to be harder for them than a kid who’s parents are active in teaching them to love God. We have to find ways to equip parents and also be there for students. Orange also has a lot of resources on that concept.

  6. Love 2 things mentioned above. 1) from Kraig – sitting with parents at the students events 2) from Dave – offer opportunities to connect. Granted I am a peer with our parents since I have kids in our youth ministry, but I have found relationship is the best way to minister to parents. Trust is high, and I’ve found the few parents who do come to a meeting will be the information gatherers not ones wanting to be at another meeting because I might learn something new. Information is important but can be communincated in ways other than a meeting. Developing and nurturing relationships open up for conversations when needed for ministry.

  7. You are not alone in this my friend. We are always trying to do better in this area. Some things that we have done which have paid dividends in the past are: having our small group leaders write letters to all the parents of their small group kids, communicate, communicate, and over communicate, when teaching, keep it simple enough that you can repeat it to the parents so they can hold it up in front of their kids, and prove to families that we value their time by how we program our calendar. This year we did something brand new that was well received which was a ” Meet the Small Group Leaders Dinner” It was an informal night where our parents got to meet their student’s small group leader and develop that relationship. It was a great night.

  8. We had a parent who wanted to help create a community of parents, so she sent out invitations to a dessert at her house during high school youth group. Parents dropped off their kids, went to her house and mingled. A couple of our staff left youth group early to go meet parents and cast vision for their role in ministering to their own kids. It turned out great and we are currently trying to work on something similar for our middle school students.

  9. So much good advice already. To build on the idea of connecting small group leaders/volunteers with parents- Stuff You Can Use has a great idea/starter kit for doing a small group leader/parent breakfast. It was a good way to initially open up the conversation for us.

    I’d also add a question to Kraig’s point, if parents are “meh” because they are happy with the current state, the question may be what is their expectation from you and the student ministry? If all parents are after is a place for their kids to stay out of trouble, learn to play by the rules, or pick up some sense of morals they may not see much point in engaging if their kid isn’t in trouble, breaking rules, or living like a heathen. Of course then the issue is how do we change their perception/expectation? But one step at a time.

  10. Great question and a struggle most those in student ministries face. It’s sad that in our culture parents have become very apathetic towards ministering to their children. This is the reason they don’t pay much attention to the resources we give them and usually don’t come to meetings we hold. What I have found that works for me is to build personal relationships with the parents (and their families) as much as a can. I do have meetings, but only one a year. I do send out a parent update via email every week that has a resource every week. But outside of that I focus on connecting with the parents on Sunday mornings at church and try to have lunch/dinner with them throughout the year. It’s within that relationship that you can really partner with them.

    Austin

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