This week is move-up weekend. This is the week where the seniors head into college and the new 7th graders begin their time in our ministry. This past weekend we had a parent meeting to give them all of the info they could possibly need about who we are as a ministry and what they could expect. It went wonderfully. Only two questions were asked at the end, which could mean one of two things: We either did a great job of communicating, or we did so bad they didn’t know what to say. Ill go with the first one.
Going into this meeting, we had four goals in mind for engaging parents:
Listen—I have heard of horror stories where parents don’t feel like the youth pastor actually listens to them when they are upset about something or bring up legitimate questions about the ministry. I think one of the most important things we can do is just to listen. Stop talking. Hear them out and see what concerns come up. Parents want to know they are being heard.
Affirm—I’m not sure who is more nervous about entering into our ministry, the incoming 7th graders or their parents. Affirm them in their ability to parent and that you realize that their child is about to enter into the crazy teenage years. Affirm them and let them know they are going to be great and they will survive this crazy time and we are along for the ride with them.
Inform—There is no such thing as over-communicating. We let them know what a midweek service looks like by showing them a highlight clip. We made an intro to our staff video, walked them through what a service looks like, what events we had coming up for the summer with all of the details, how to sign up for our monthly newsletter and everything you need to know about summer camp. We gave it to them in print and no doubt about anything coming up. Information puts them at ease and it’s helpful, and I think it shows them that we are prepared and we have things together. Their kids are in good hands.
Encourage—We are to partner with parents. We want to listen to them, affirm their feelings, inform them and then encourage them. If you do the first three things, you will have raging fans of your ministry. We let them know they are responsible for their child’s spiritual wellbeing, but we are to offer hope and help as we walk alongside them as they rise their child in Christ. We are to speak life into their family whenever we can.
What do you do for parents? How do you inform the new parents in your ministry? What works for you? What doesn’t? We would love to hear about it!