Each family unit is different & each family unit has it’s own ethos (culture) that makes them their own tribe. Each tribe has it’s own spoken & unspoken set of values, ideals, convictions, standards, sense of humor, media choices & personalities. And all of that collides in our youth rooms & ministries at a high impact!
A joy I have is watching a family tribe enjoy, wrestle & work through the years where teenagers fill their home. I love being able to partner, provide resources & come along side these families so their teenage years can be filled with more positive than negative experiences. In order to do that our ministry has to create bridges from the ministry to the families we impact. Here are a few ways I’ve found very helpful in building bridges.
Surveys: Every year I try to interview a group of parents & ask them for input about the ministry their son/daughter is a part of. A way we do this is through a survey that is anonymous but asks very specific questions from the parent’s perspective on what value the student ministry has in their son/daughters life. We want parents to know what goes on in their home is important for us as a litmus test that we aren’t just about a program, but life transformation.
Parenting Teen Seminars: We try to offer seminars that address real life issues & challenges parents tend to deal with like Substance abuse, standards & boundaries, sex/dating, trauma, missions/serving, etc. These seminars are not just for us to tell parents a perspective on an issue but to encourage them & remind them they are not alone. We bring in top-notch communicators with life or professional experience in the area we are discussing to provide resources to families. We often see that these seminars are an open door to families who don’t attend our church or are not even followers of Jesus to step foot on our campus & realize our ministry isn’t just for their son/daughter.
Seasonal Parent Meetings: These parent meetings are pure informational meetings to provide calendars, shake hands & give some non-rushed face time to families. We use the fall & late spring as our yearly markers as each of these seasonal times there is a lot of change in our ministries & parents need to know what impact those changes have for their son/daughter in our ministry. At these meetings I also offer for parents to schedule a one-on-one meeting with myself at anytime they’d like to. Sitting with a parent & giving them a listening ear will gain you a lot of respect and opportunity to provide clarity to their questions.
Communicating through Website/Facebook/Mass Texting: Each of these tools we use to provide message series information, book suggestions, website links we want them to check out, devotionals, downloadable content & simple week-to-week information. We put these resources on EVERY advertisement we send out so it’s a subtle reminder that parents can access information at any point in time they need.
24 Hour Rule: I NEVER (unless on vacation or out of the country) take longer than 24 hours to reply to a parents email or phone call. I value an efficient response to questions I have & want others to have the same experience.
I know these aren’t a magic formula but they’ve worked very well for our ministry in helping parents know we are here for their whole family. I’d be curious to know what you use for your ministry in bridging relationships to the parents of the students around your ministry.