Communicating With Parents for Partnership

When it comes to partnering with parents, as student ministries there are a number of ways we can end up wasting our time. We can waste our time in
1.) how we communicate and
2.) what we say to our parents. One of the things we’re learning is that information often gets tuned out, but strategy gets tuned in. 

When it comes to their kids, parents are constantly bombarded with information. School newsletters, basketball team schedules, band trip instructions, report cards, permission forms etc. The mountain of information is overwhelming. There is nothing compelling or inspiring about the information parents get and so generally, overwhelmed parents tend to tune out as much of the information as they can unless they have to pay attention. 

So why in an attempt to partner with parents, do student ministries waste time by just adding to the mountain of information parents receive? More and more I’m talking to student ministry leaders who, in addition to a schedule, have created series outlines, podcasts, videos, and discussion questions on the current series, a newsletter, or a daily updated blog. The frustration we feel: the vast majority of parents never access this information. What we’re realizing is that this information often is not utilized and, quite frankly, just gets tuned out (no matter how cool my new series is!). 

Strategy, however, tends to get tuned in. Talk to a parent about who their child could “be” and how you want to get them there and they’ll listen. Talk to a parent about how your church is dreaming about ways that parents can make a difference in the life of their child in easy ways and they will want to know more.

Too much information often discourages today’s parent because it is all about what they should know that they don’t, and what their child should be doing that they aren’t. Chances are they already feel like a bad parent. Now they feel worse. No matter what information you shared, it’s the feelings that stick.

Strategy, however, encourages people to dream about who their child could be and how they could get there with your help. Strategy is about a plan and a vision for their family. Strategy is about what we’re doing together and a clear plan to get us there. Once the strategy is made clear and repeated often, the information becomes much more compelling. 

Do you relate to anything said here? What ideas do you have around communicating a compelling strategy? Are you resonating with parents or getting tuned out?

Jeff Brodie is the Director of Student Ministry at Connexus Community Church 

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The Orange Group is a gathering of leaders who are passionate about engaging churches and families to influence the faith and character of the next generation. Contributors include some of the most widely respected thought-leaders in children’s ministry, including Reggie Joiner, Sue Miller, Kendra Fleming, Jim Wideman, and Bre Hallberg. New blog entries, podcasts, webcasts, and video downloads are available every week to help you keep leading yourself and growing with your team.