Tag Archives: Parent Meeting

How To Get Parents on Your Team – Part 2

Last week, I wrote on the importance of being on the same team as the parents in your youth ministry.  I cannot overstate how critical it is to have a parental connection and partnership within your student ministry.  The trust and credibility you build with parents will only bring value and growth.  Parents will provide the support you need in various ways and you will be able to provide valuable insight and encouragement to their parenting journey.

Today, I’d like to share with you one practical method of getting parents on your team.  It’s not a trick or an ulterior motive ploy.  On the contrary, you hopefully have the same heart as the parents, and that is to see their child grow in their relationship with the Lord and reach their full potential of using their God-given abilities and gifts.

One way that happens is through Parent/Pastor Conferences.  You heard me.  Why can’t teachers have all the fun with parent/teacher conferences.  After all, aren’t youth pastors/workers/leaders also teaching their children valuable material (the most valuable actually) and need to give progress updates to the parents and find ways we can work together at church and home to allow the student to achieve continued spiritual growth?  In actuality, this meeting has more significance (no offense teachers, you are most appreciated), but not because of the teacher’s place in the student’s life, but because the church teaches about that which is eternal.Shouldn’t parents and pastors sit down and discuss ways they can partner with each other to allow the teenager to fight temptation, grow in their spiritual disciplines and gifts, and experience spiritual growth.  I can hear you scream YES from here!  So how is this done?  I’m glad you asked.

  1. Pick a date. Provide a date with a wide range of times.  Example – 3-7pm on a weeknight can allow families with different schedules to attend.  Provide alternate dates to parents so they can still have time to meet with you, but encourage the conference date as a primary option.
  2. Sign-up List. During your next parent meeting, explain the parent/pastor conference and pass around a sign-up list.  Follow up with parents that may not sign up, but this provides a good base of meetings right off the bat.
  3. Make it Professional. I had my dear wife make her famous chocolate chip cookies (this puts everyone in a good mood to start the meeting) and some coffee.  I set out two leather chairs in the lobby, coffee & cookies on a table, and a sign saying I would be with them in a moment.  This is not a silly exercise, we are talking about the spiritual condition of a human being.  Take it seriously.
  4. Have a Plan. For me, I kept it very simple.  In order to stay in my 30 minute timeframe, I had 4 categories:  Concerns, Strengths, Weaknesses, & Goals.  The parents talked and I also gave my input as well.  This plan worked well in this context and kept discussion on topic and with a firm direction.  **Make sure to have plans for each grade written down and ready to go.
  5. Make Prayer a Focus. We want God to be the main source and contributor to our discussion.  So we make sure to invite God right off the bat through prayer.  Then, I make it a point to have the dad pray at the end of the meeting if he is able to attend.  This is a subtle encouragement to allow the dad to take charge spiritually within the family.  It’s always a blessing to hear parents pray for the teens you serve and care for.

That’s it.  5 steps to conducting a parent/pastor conference.  Just another way to get parents on your team.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the value this provides in your personal ministry to teens, and in your relationships with parents.  Trust, encouragement, direction, blessing, and counsel all happens in 30 minutes.  Give is a try, and get on the same team with those parents.

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6 Steps to Parent Meeting Success

If you haven’t figured it out yet, parents are important to your success in youth ministry or student ministry. And by success, I mean the spiritual growth, depth, and love for the Savior in the teens in your youth group. I say that, because you can grow your youth group by numbers without the aid of parents, whether it is by heavy programming or giving away an iPhone for answering a question in Sunday school.parent_meeting_dribbble-1innh9r

But if you are seeking spiritual depth, if you are seeking a faith in your students that lasts beyond their high school years, if you are seeking a unity and health within your church…you must lock arms with your parents into battle. Teenagers are facing tremendous battles like the negatives of social media (gossip, cyber-bullying, self-centeredness), sexual pressures that happen everywhere from the office chair in front of a computer to taking the next step in a physical relationship, stress for academic achievement, loneliness & abandonment…and the list goes on. Why would you not want another ally in youth ministry? It would be like an Army General being offered 25,000 more troops to help in a war effort and saying, “Nah, I can handle this on my own. I’ve got the training and experience, let me handle it”. It’s ludicrous. But this is happening all across the nation in youth ministries. Stop blaming the youth ministry for the exodus of young people, and take a look at the failure of combining the efforts of youth ministry and parents. That right there is a winning formula for a teenager.

Maybe it will take some more convincing. Maybe you have been burned in the past by parents. Well, even if you confidence needs rebuilding or your skepticism remains, I’d encourage you to give these steps and see how God can use parent meetings to build a healthier youth ministry.

Step #1 – Support Group

Your first goal is to communicate the parent meeting is FOR the parents. It should be obvious that a parent meeting is for…well…parents. But make sure you arrange the meeting to be something the parents enjoy and more importantly, need. Your attendance at parent meetings will always be a struggle, but if it is something that will benefit the parents, they will come.

One specific way is to arrange the room in tables. And following the meeting, explain you’d like the parents to pray for each other. Discuss how each of them are in the same battle, teenage-dom. And you may gain advice and counsel from other parents, but most important can pray for each other. This has been my favorite part of parent meetings. I’ve seen parents talking to each other long after prayer is over, and truly helping each other, life on life. It’s a beautiful thing.

Step #2 – Equip

Come prepared to teach the parents. Sure, the typical youth leader is younger and may not have teenagers of their own, but that doesn’t mean they cannot teach on parenting teenagers. Why? Because there is book that has the authority over all parents, and no one will argue with its content. It’s called the Bible. Other resources: The Seven Checkpoints (Stanley), Raising a Modern Day Joseph (Fowler), Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Tripp).

Step #3 – Youth Culture Update

This is really fun. Come up with a quiz of 10 questions about teen culture. CPYU.org is a great resource for articles and information for these culture quizzes. Plus, when you give away answers, you can give valuable insight on the question. Questions about drugs, social media habits, teens & driving, or academic trends are all good places to start. So much value in keeping your parents clued in on teen culture, and it will give you tremendous credibility, showing you do know things about teenager that parents do not.

Step #4 – Fill the Calendar Later

Many times, we as youth leaders make the mistake of making the parent meeting all about events, programs, and filling the calendar. Sure, there still should be a place for that. But email, calendars, and newsletter can provide that information just as easy. So why waste time in the parent meeting with information about events. Put this information in front of the parents, but talk more about the purpose during these meetings, rather than just dates, times, and permission forms.

world-war-3Step #5 – Prevent World War III

This may be the most important step, so are you listening? DO NOT ask for questions during the meeting. You are inviting disaster. When you open the floor, you are opening it up for criticism, questioning of programs, and you are put on the spot. Rather, make it clear at the end of the meeting you are available to chat afterwards, or the parents can email, text, or call with any questions they may have. This will save you. Trust me on this one.

Step #6 – Food & Childcare

Eliminate the excuses. Provide food and childcare, and you have eliminated 90% of the excuses right there. Plus, everyone likes to eat. So have your leaders help with planning a meal and helping with childcare, and more parents will attend.
Resources: Family-Based Youth Ministry (DeVries), Pushing the Limits (Walker, Calhoun), reThink (Wright)

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