Keeping parents in the loop
Do parents know whats going on in your ministry?
I’m talking beyond a calendar of events. Do the parents of the students in your ministry know what your talking about in youth group? Do they understand the vision of your ministry and how it impacts their children? Do they know of any spiritual victories, or defeats, that their kids have had recently?
Parents are the most important influencers in the lives of their children. That is undeniable. Yet we as youth workers too often ignore these influencers and instead operate independently of them. That is insanity.
Believe me, I know the hesitation. I’ve been in ministry for a long time, and have seen my share of parents who couldn’t find a verse in the bible if you spotted them the page numbers. I’ve sent out plenty of calendars, announcements, emails, and texts only to hear from a parent the day after a big event, “I never saw anything about that!” So, it can sometimes feel like a waste of time when we communicate with parents.
DON’T LET YOURSELF FEEL THAT WAY!
Even if it doesn’t impact 9 out of 10 parents, we are helping that one parent better impact their students. Truth is, the more we communicate the more likely we are helping parents. Here are some simple things we can do to help keep parents in the loop…
1. Communicate vision – Find times to regularly communicate the vision of the ministry, and put it into personal terms for the parents. For example, one of my goals of the ministry is to equip students to have a deeper relationship with Christ. That sounds great, but it would be more meaningful to a parent for me to say something like, “This month, we’ve taught your students how to be better communicate with God through prayer.”
2. Communicate lessons – I stole this idea from Josh Griffen at More Than Dodgeball. He would put weekly updates on the lesson they taught that week. It included the big idea, the verses, and some questions that the parents could ask to follow up. The students aren’t going to voluntarily discuss this stuff many times, so give parents the info so they can bring it up and reinforce the lessons we’ve taught.
3. Communicate calendars – I know, I know…it seems like this is all we do sometimes. In my experience, parents need to see something at least 5 times before it sinks into their conscious. You might give them a year long calendar and post everything in the bulletin, but we need to consistently be bringing our activities before the eyes of the parents. Find 3 effective ways, and train your parents to interact with these. For me personally, I’ve create a one page printed paper called “Fridge Notes” that lists all this month’s activities in detail, with a short list of the next few months events, that they can post to their fridge to remember. Whatever you do, be sure to do it consistently.
4. Communicate personal stories – As a parent, I want to hear how my child is doing when they are outside of my purview. Take a few hours a week to shoot a few parents emails or letters sharing what you’ve seen from their student. If they’re doing well, be sure to share those stories. If you’re concerned, be willing to be honest in some struggles you may be seeing. Just be sure not to break any confidences. If a student confesses to you that they are struggling with porn, don’t just email a parent out of the blue saying, “Hey, check your internet filter!” (There are ways of dealing with this, but don’t ever blindside a student unless its a serious issue).
5. Communicate a willingness to partner – Continually let parents know you are an ally, not an enemy. Let them know you want to help them, and let them know how. Point them to resources that can help them. Regularly forward articles from professionals or blogs you’ve read. Be a resource to help.
These few things would only take a few hours out of your week, but would be magnified exponentially in your students as you work to support the parents. I’d love to hear in the comments how you have worked to keep parents “in the loop” in your ministry.