Previously we talked about “surviving parents.” The term “surviving parents” denotes that we are playing defense and that we are merely “surviving” the situation. However, in ministry and in life I prefer to go on the offense. The focus of this post is to “thrive” with parents. I believe it is possible due to my past experience of 12 years as youth pastor to thrive with the parents of students that you are leading. You can thrive with your parents if you will:
Student leaders do a great job at connecting to students. We try to remember their birthdays, favorite sports team and restaurants. However, we must strive just as diligently to make personal connections with their parents. Send a handwritten card with a five-dollar Starbucks gift card telling them you appreciate all they do for the student ministry. When they do something helpful, highlight it with a kind text or Facebook post. Use excitement and creativity to make memories.
It’s been said in order to get your message across you must communicate, communicate, communicate. Sometimes we get frustrated because parents don’t seem to understand what it is we’re saying, it maybe because we have not sold it to them. I was often guilty of communicating to the students and feeling that information would just magically get to the parents. If you have worked with students any time at all know, you know that students are not going to relay anything and especially- they will not relay it properly. You must relay key information to your parents personally. Use calendars, monthly newsletters, social media, personal phone calls, an annual orientation, parent parties and any other means to personally connect with your parents.
I prefer not to have a lot of rules and guidelines that takes a manual for your parents to understand. I feel it is best to have three or four concise principles so that it’s very clear as in the what your expectations are for your student ministry. Check out the “ABC’s of Learning” as an example.
There are times you will need to compromise and back down and allow a parent’s idea to override your idea. Of course we’re not talking about core values of your student ministry. However, the way we go about some of our values and routines we can find spaces for compromise and take the advice of a parent. It may not be exactly the way you would’ve done it but it will create unity with the parents and purchase you a lot of mileage.
Some of our issues arise with parents because we as students pastors are not clear with the guidelines we set up for students and for the ministry. We need to clearly communicate what it is that we’re trying to say.
The best practice when dealing with parents is to give them the benefit of the doubt. Seek to understand where they are coming from and do your best to meet the needs of their family.