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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.