Starting A Parent Ministry

Posted: 
Friday, May 8, 2020

If you thought that your role as a youth pastor or youth leader was just to plan and run programs and events for youth, then think again. Those young people are part of a family with parent/s or care-giver/s that are responsible for them 24/7, even when they are with you.

The statistics have not changed in the overall influence of the parents or long-term primary carers in young people's lives. Caring adults definitely have a role. But parents are how God designed it.

So we can either push against it, or we can partner with it. In my experience, resourcing and partnering with parents is the best long-term strategy if we care about young people.

I can almost see some of you rolling your eyes. You are thinking "Great! So I connect with young people, organise programs, communicate, relate to my pastor or direct report, manage my team, manage the budget. And now you are telling me that I also have to take care of parents? Really? When?"

And the answer is, "Yes, as you are able."

It would be unrealistic to expect some gold class program next week that will serve the parents of your youth, and win you youth worker of the year. You need to look at what level you can achieve and also who you have that can help. So let's have a look at some thoughts on this.

Settle It In Your Heart

Before stepping towards parent ministry, you need to settle in your heart that this something that you should prioritise. If you do this only because someone has said to then it will not last. Some ways that you can do that:

  • Pray it over, asking God to show you his priority on parents and family, and how you can honour that
  • Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and see how the Bible puts the primary care on the parents to be spritual leaders first.
  • Read Think Orange by Reggie Joiner
  • Do some of your own research into family and parent ministry

Once you have settled it in your heart, then some practical aspects to get you started.

 

Communication Basics

At this level of parent ministry, you do what you can to make sure that parents are aware of the details of your program and calendar. You may need to do a little research into the best communication channels to use and find the top 3-4 options. Some current channels to consider:

  • Church newsletter/bulletin (printed or digital)
  • Email (use MailChimp or similar)
  • Text messaging
  • Church website / youth page
  • Facebook - church page, youth page, parents group, all of the above
  • Instagram
  • Postcards at your church's information desk
  • Printed monthly calendar
  • Whats App group
  • Twitter

There are multiple other ways, you just need to find the ones that most parents actually use and check. Also try to partner these with ease of distribution. If you can create one graphic that can be easily adapted to 2-3 channels then that is ideal. And if you can find tools like Buffer or Hootsuite that can schedule social media posts then make use of them.

 

Communication Plus

This level of parent ministry takes the previous one up a notch. It has all the components of Level 1, but adds extras. So not just information, but resources. For example, give the parents an overview of the content from a sermon or Bible study. Include some questions that might spark conversations with their young person. Add to that any articles or resources that might be able to help them. Every Saturday I try and post a bunch of links to articles that might help you, and there is a family section. By all means have a look at those articles and pass one or two through to your parents.

This is a simple move from communicating information to adding value.

 

Meet A Need

There are many needs and concerns that parents have. You won't be able to meet all of them, but take a poll of the parents with a short-list of 4-5 topics and see if there is interest. Pick one of the top two topics and then find a way to present helpful materials on that topic. Some thoughts on how to meet the needs.

  • Host a meeting - communicate date, time, location and content, and make sure it is high value
  • Host an online meeting
  • Consider who the best communicator would be. If you have credibility and the time to collate the materials, then take the opportunity. Maybe there is someone else on your team or in your church who are more suitable.
  • Outsource to external providers - if there is another organisation then find a way to get them in front of parents
  • Find and provide resources - books, DVDs, online material etc
  • Create a small group resource that can be used within existing small groups
  • Do an interview with an expert either live or recorded
  • Make it as practical as you can

Once you have done this once, learn the lessons and try and do another one at a later time.

 

Find a Volunteer

If you are serious about serving parents and families, then find a volunteer who can serve in this area. Someone who's main responsibility is for parents. Anyone with a heart for it can serve in this area, but one to consider is an empty nester who has raised teens and who has a heart for other parents. They don't have to have been perfect parents (there is no such thing) but some level of credibility is important.

 

Connections

Connections between parents can be helpful. This may already be happening through your church's small group structures, and if it is then that is great. If it isn't then look for ways that parents can connect and support each other. Promote open diaglogue and honesty in these moments. We often think that our circumstances are unique and no-one else has seen this, but often there are others. Letting parents know that they are not alone can be very helpful for them.

You may want to consider short courses that gather parents to help develop and resource them. Maybe every so often you can run a cafe at the same time as youth, so parents can bring their youth, hang around and chat and be resourced. Online opportunities are good, just make sure you have the right privacy settings to protect the parents and youth.

 

A Resource Library/Database

Think about creating a resource library. I don't just mean books, but websites, DVDs, YouTube videos, courses etc. I know of some churches that have a database of experiences. They find people who have navigated difficult situations and are willing to be support people. So it could be spirituality, attitude and behaviour, self-esteem issues, mental health challenges, technology, pornography, sexuality, alcohol and drug abuse, or many other areas. Our world is complex and having resources and people available can help the parents navigate and care for their youth.

 

Those are just some ideas that are out there. You may have come across or be running others and we would love to hear what has worked for you. If you have questions or want some help or guidance then let us know and we would love to assist.

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