Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders 5 Ways You Can Partner With Parents

5 Ways You Can Partner With Parents

I’ve made a ton of mistakes in my first few years of youth ministry. I’ve totaled church buses and run over cats with the church van. I’ve gone over budget and overhyped an event. I’ve left kids at gas stations and left leadership out of the loop as I did my own thing.

But one other, more subtle, mistake I made was not partnering with parents. I didn’t even try! I thought youth ministry was the “be all, end all” of spiritual discipleship for teenagers and decided to ignore these whining, argumentative, frustrating people. Why won’t they leave me alone and just let me disciple their children?

How stupid is that? So I’ve been a bonehead in youth ministry more times than I can imagine (and still am from time to time, argh), but partnering with parents is a mistake as a seasoned veteran I’m not going to make anymore. Here are five words that I want to describe our partnership with parents as a youth ministry. 

This is the most basic function of a youth ministry’s relationship to parents. Keep them in the loop. Let them know what is planned and give overwhelming clarity and communication. This means that your email lists, text database and interpersonal skills have to be sharp. The DYM Parent Newsletter as part of the monthly membership might be a helpful tool as you do this. And remember that communication at the lowest level is AT parents, ideally it moves to a conversation.


Help parents understand what their teenager is going through. You may be surprised at how little most parents understand about adolescent development. They’re just intimidated by what they don’t know and don’t understand, so partnering with parents in education relieves the fear and pain.


You probably know some great parent resources to put in their hands—this is what a great parent-partnering youth group does. They might even go above and beyond and have a library of suggested resources or make things like DYM’s Parent Tips available in the foyer of the church.


Our big experiment the past two years has been a “blending” of our student ministry and adult church called Worship Together Weekend. We want our students to worship side by side with their parents and together as a church body. We love youth group, we want to continue to do specialized ministry to this age group.


I think this one is largely intangible, but as a youth worker, you have to really make sure you believe that this is the best way. I could have started with this one, but I like it at the end so it gives you some pause. It is easy to add a resource list or a parent newsletter, but at the very core you have to really want to have parents play a central role in the spiritual development of their teenager. Do you really believe it?

So, this week, we’ll both make some mistakes in our youth ministry. But be sure to not make the mistake of missing out on encouraging and partnering with the parents of the students in your ministry. 

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Josh Griffin is high school pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. He’s the co-counder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and host of the Youth Ministry Garage Podcast. He's authored more than 20 youth ministry resources and is the author of "99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders" with Doug Fields. Josh is a father of 4 who speaks a little, podcasts a little, Twitters a bit, and blogs a lot. You can find him at DownloadYouthMinistry.com!