The eternal question in youth ministry seems to be, “How much do I communicate with my parents and what do I communicate with them?” We want our parents to know what’s going on in youth ministry, but we don’t want to communicate so much that our emails/phone calls/texts go into the junk folder/are never answered. Parents and supportive adults in youth ministry can be powerful partners, but that takes quality communication.
In an age where parents are bombarded with communication from school and various activities they’re involved with, how do we get a seat at their table? How do we both update them on the ministry happening with their kids and equip them to continue the faith conversations at home? While understanding that each of our congregational settings are different, here are five ways to connect with your parents while equipping them to be the faith teachers in their homes:
1. Create a Facebook group or Instagram account for your youth ministry
What the past year has taught us is social media is here to stay. But instead of seeing this as a road block, I’ve discovered over how much of an asset social media can be to the ministry that we do. It can be a great way to keep parents up to date on what’s happening as well as another connection point with your students. You can use the various social media platforms to post pictures from events, post graphics of Bible passages you want to highlight.
If the idea of making graphics seems daunting or intimidating, don’t worry! There are plenty of websites out there that make it easy to create professional looking graphics (my personal recommendations are either Canva or Adobe Spark). It will also take some time to figure out what posts will land well and which ones won’t. Be patient with yourself as you navigate social media, understanding that the rest of us are trying to figure it out too.
2. Send out monthly emails
These monthly emails can serve as great information for your parents on what the past month in youth ministry has looked like at your church, events that are on the horizon, and important dates that need to be communicated. Your emails don’t have to be long or profound but instead, serve as another line of communicated between you and parents.
3. Encourage small group leaders to connect with parents
At the beginning of every school year, our congregation encourages our small group leaders to either text, email, or call the parents of the students in their small group. Parents and supportive adults work best as a team so when you ask small group leaders to do this, they’re helping the parents put a face to the name they’ll hear a lot over the course of the year as well as help to build trust between the parent and the small group leader.
4. Build-in open ended questions that can be posted to continue the discussion
Remember those graphics I talked about for social media? With any Bible study curriculum, build in open ended questions to your lesson that you’re able to either send home on paper or post on your social media page. This gives parents the tools to continue the discussion, so it doesn’t stop once youth group ends (plus, solves the age-old conversation of, “What did you learn at church tonight?” “I don’t know, stuff?”).
5. Give parents easy tips and reminders for faith conversations in their homes
We know that parents are the primary faith teachers in their kid’s lives and it’s our job to equip them to do just that. To a lot of parents, this can be a daunting and intimidating task. Parents don’t want to say the wrong thing, not know an answer to a question, or they just don’t know where to begin when it comes to talking about faith with their kids.
Be grace-filled with them as they walk with their kids, challenge them with easy ways to connect with their kids on a faith level. It can be as simple as a challenge to spend five minutes with their children, sharing the best part of their day, the worst part of their day, and praying together. You can take resources like Just a Phase to talk about the needs in each phase of development (https://justaphase.com) but be certain to read and put it in a Lutheran theological context. Suggest parents use Concordia Publishing House’s Catechism Study videos on the six chief parts to help remind them of key Lutheran theology and have questions to discuss with their teen. Any resource you can give helps build trust in communication with you and supports parents as they talk with their teens.
I wish there was a solution where we know if we just do *this* then we would have perfect relationship between parents and ministry leaders. We know the reality of our service is taking points like the ones above and making it work for our setting. But as we figure out the balance of what to post, and when to send emails, we shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture.
We, as the youth leaders in our church are put in a unique position. We get to show up for the teenagers at our church. We get to remind them weekly that they are loved, saved, and changed by God. We get to watch them learn and walk in faith as God’s children. We also get to walk alongside the parents. We get to cheerlead them as they live out the vocation only they have as the primary faith teacher. We get to remind them that, whatever parenting stage they’re going through, they aren’t alone.