The topic of parent ministry in any room of youth pastors can bring up a wide range of responses. Whether you love it or hate it—it’s important. We want to give you 8 easy ways to win with the parents of your students.
Parenting is hard.
The truth of parenting is that it’s just plain hard. It is one of the most rewarding journeys that I’ve been on, but it requires constant attention and work to effectively train kids up in the way of the Lord and provide a model for them in your own life. When parents seem only halfway engaged in everything you are asking of them, cut ‘em some slack! Student ministry leaders can often find themselves frustrated with a lack of parent engagement and we allow ourselves to develop an “us vs. them” mentality, but I want to challenge you to see parents differently.
Do they really know what you’re asking them to do?
When you ask parents to be the primary disciplers of their students, do they even know what that means? Do you think they’ve ever been discipled? Could it be that the word ‘discipleship’ alone is intimidating and fear inducing for them? If you’re intentional about investing in them, you will see the fruit.
They’re humans, too.
Parents—just like everyone else—need to be encouraged and appreciated. They want someone to tell them that they can do it and that they are going to get through whatever they are facing. They want someone to come alongside them and point them to voices that can help them. And most importantly, they want (and need) to know you are praying for them and available to them. They want to be seen, appreciated, and loved.
Here are 8 practical ways you can show parents you care:
- Put it on the calendar. Think through some specific times of year that you can show your appreciation for parents of students. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are obvious wins but what other times can you take advantage of to encourage and appreciate your parents?
- Seek out opportunities to pray with parents. This could be a commitment to pray with a few parents in the hallway every week as you interact with them, or a standing, open invitation prayer meeting that happens once a week or once a month.
- Make a point of publicly acknowledging and praising parents for the work that they are doing. Make it clear that they are the heroes of their homes and that what may feel thankless day in and day out is truly a sacred task. Help them to see the high and holy calling of Christian parenthood and then reach out your hand in partnership and encouragement as an ally in the fight.
- Small gifts can make a big difference. If you have a little budget money, give your parents a gift from time to time. Maybe it’s a gift card to a local coffee shop, or donuts before church one day. Maybe there is a local restaurant owner that would offer your parents a discount on a meal for a date night. Anything to help you say that you see them and you appreciate what they are doing.
- Resource them. Find some of the most popular parenting books out right now, read them, pull out the highlights, and send them the cliff notes version with some encouraging scriptures to help them through the journey.
- Use God’s Word. Put a schedule together of parent phone numbers and text an encouraging scripture to a few parents every week.
- Invest in their walk. Give your parents some bible study tools they can use to make their own walk with Christ a little easier. One free example would be pointing them to the YouVersion chronological reading plan and the Bible Recap podcast.
- Set them up to win. Give them some easy questions that they can use to lead a spiritual conversation at the dinner table each week.
This post was written by John Paul Basham. John Paul serves as the Manager of LifeWay Student Ministry Publishing. He served in student ministry in the local church for 10 years before coming on staff at LifeWay and has a deep passion for the work of the church and its mission to make disciples.