I was 20 years old when I started serving in student ministry and it took me entirely too long to realize the value of partnering with parents. The ministry God called me to was with students, so why did I have to invest in parent ministry, right? Good grief. If I could go back and do something differently, this would be in my top five list. While our Student Pastor did a great job of connecting with parents, as an intern and later as a Girls Minister, I didn’t see how it fit into my job description. After all, I was still calling my parents for advice – what did I know about helping parents?
I had no idea how much parent ministry is a critical part of student ministry. I realized very quickly that I had to step up to the plate, learn how to communicate with parents, and be an advocate for both them and their students at the same time. Parent ministry isn’t always easy, but it’s vital to the success of healthy student ministry. Parents are some of your biggest advocates, your support team, and often your cheerleaders. On the flip slide, some of your students’ parents aren’t involved in church, aren’t pointing their students in the right direction to begin with, or aren’t a good fit to serve in student ministry. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t engage with them at some level. Let’s think through some ways we can help to partner with them so that we can reach students.
Here are three ways to effectively partner with parents in ministry:
- Bring them in. Don’t be afraid of letting parents serve in student ministry. Let them go to camp with you, serve as host home leaders, and teach small groups. Your church needs to determine whether or not you let them serve with their own students’ classes and grades, but find places where they can invest and pour in using their gifts.
- Equip them. Do the parents in your church know what you’re teaching? Do they know what sermon series is being preached on Wednesday nights and what the goal is of the events that you’re asking time and money for? Make it a priority to find ways to communicate well with them about what’s going on so they feel like they’re in the loop. Let them know how they can continue the conversation at home with questions and prompts from what’s being taught at church so that discipleship can happen naturally.
- Point students back to them. Our job in student ministry is to help parents as they disciple their teenagers, but not to replace their role. Deuteronomy 6 lays out a strategic challenge to parents as they raise their children, and we need to support them as best we can.
If you’re looking for some resources to recommend to parents, here are a few!
Foundations by Robby & Kandi Gallaty: A yearlong Bible reading plan for everyone in your family and church. There are teen and kids versions of the Bible reading plan available.
Parenting Teens Magazine: This monthly magazine offers timely information, encouragement, and advice to families facing the unique challenges and blessings of parenting teens. Parents will find expert insight and practical advice for day-to-day and crisis situations.
Christ Centered Parenting by Russell Moore & Phillip Bethancourt: This 6-session Bible study is designed to help you give your kids a biblical worldview that will produce the next generation of culture shapers – not simply the next generation shaped by their culture.