Trust and partnership are crucial ingredients as we seek to minister to students and their families. Here are seven ideas for helping to make sure you’re on the same page with parents – whether they are actively involved in the church or not.
Disciplined And Intentional Planning
Intentional planning helps build trust with families. To the best of your ability, double check school calendars, keep commitments, don’t send out half-baked details. Try to end a meeting or event when you say you will. And don’t over schedule your students – keep a good pace. Be intentional about what you want students to attend. Limit short notice planning to special occasions.
Encourage And Support Families
Listen to families of your teens. Set up a listening meeting at the beginning of a new season. Ask parents “what matters to them?” Be sure to support the parent’s voice in the decisions that are made for the student. It’s tempting to side with the students, especially for younger leaders. But unless it’s threatening information that must be shared, stand with parents in helping to grow teens into adulthood.
Physical Letters or Postcards
Send emails and create social media posts if you like, but when possible send something in the mail. A hard copy letter or postcard containing the schedule or an invitation will stick around the house longer and be a reminder. Electronic information can be more difficult for families to manage.
One Time Volunteer Opportunities
Help create some connection with families by inviting them to participate in one shot volunteer opportunities. They can attend an event or trip with the students, they can help during a fundraiser or some other aspect of the ministry. Some parents will be comfortable helping on a deeper more regular level – welcome it and plan for them to have a meaningful role. Don’t make them feel obligated just because they are a parent of a teen, but help create a culture of fun for parents to work together to help make the ministry better and stronger.
It’s been noted that students have vacated Facebook, but parents are still there. Create a group or a page for your parents and families to connect. Don’t necessarily count on it for getting time sensitive details out, but you can encourage parents and encourage community among parents in your group.
Free Parenting Seminar / Resources
Depending on your context, it may be good to offer a parenting seminar for parents in your ministry. This can be in the form a group meeting for encouragement or it can be with a presenter from your church or from the outside. I’ve seen it work as a beginning of a year, or beginning of an important season in the life of the teens.
Investing some money for a texting service will be worth it. It takes a bit to set up, but you can send reminders, send encouraging scriptures or send invites to help or volunteer.
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