9 Things Parents Really Want From a Youth Leader
Working with parents is always a challenge in youth ministry. Many times, sports, school plays or just about anything else takes precedent over youth meetings or even Sunday morning service. I believe youth ministry must include parent ministry, but how do we engage parents? Parents may intimidate the youth leader, but the importance of their involvement is vital.
Many times, youth leaders feel they are failing, and they are not doing enough or are effective in the eyes of parents. Parents may want to be more engaged than you think. Parents really want involvement. I believe the success of your ministry will depend on how much you engage your parents.
Here are 9 things parents really want from a youth leader:
1. Parents want you to create an adhesive environment.
Parents desire a youth ministry where their kids want to attend. No parent wants to force their child to go to youth group or church. When a youth leader provides ministry that is relevant to the teen, they will want to come.
What are some things that make a youth group relevant?
a. Involvement is the key to success.
b. Ministry takes place through worship and relevant teaching.
c. A friendly atmosphere where kids know they belong
2. Parents want their teen to findstrong friendships in the youth group.
Parents feel safe knowing that kids from the youth group are making friends with their child. How does a youth group build strong friendships?
a. Make friendships a priority by teaching your key teen and adult leaders to go out of their way to make friends.
b. Focus on small groups and the importance of relationships in those groups.
c. When a teen is absent from the group show that you care by encouraging him to come back.
d. Teach your kids disciple others in the group for this will revolutionize your ministry (a great discipleship app is Lifeline9eleven)
3. Parents want communication – to know what is going on.
You may think they don’t care, but even the unchurched parent wants to know what is going on. Facebook, Instagram, email blasts, the phone and even group texting maybe a way to communicate with parents. If your parents are behind you, then most likely you will have the teen on yourside. Parents have a bigger influence than you realize.
a. Provide a monthly calendar on your website for parents to see or send them a calendar in the mailor email.
b. Meet with every parent as often as possible in person, by phone, or text to discuss what their child is doing in the youth group. Use this time to encourage the parent and to help the parent become a better parent.
c. Make yourself available for parents to contact you concerning their child. Parents will love you if they can communicate with you concerning their child.
d. Make announcements from the pulpit about what is going on in the youth ministry.
4. Parents want you to keep yourministry on a schedule and on time.
Youth leaders must realize parents are overloaded with meeting schedules and deadlines. When parents have to wait for you, this becomes very frustrating and causes conflict.
a. Start meetings on time even if kids are late. They will eventually know to be on time.
b. Plan your meetings at an odd time like 6:59 for remembrance impact.
c. Finish the meeting on time, but allow time for one on-one with teens when parents are late.
5. When parents have a question, take it seriously
a. I use my notepad on my I-Phone to write downeverything. When I get home after a long weekend of ministry with kids, I organize my thoughts.
b. Set aside time during the week to be available forparents to call or text you. Parents will know you are serious about answering their questions.
6. Parents want to know what theirchild has learned or what he or she has done.
Every parent wants to know their child is learning something and will encourage them more if learning is happening.
a. Have some of your written teaching material available forparents.
b. When ministry is really taking place in youth group, kids can’t help but tell their parents.
7. Parents want to know you can be atrusted leader.
If they trust you then they will feel good about sending their kids to your youth group. Trust comes when a youth leader communicates regularly to parents. Trustis earned when youth leaders show parents they really care about their kids.
a. Make sure your leaders have clearances and this information is made public.
b. Make yourself accountable to the pastor, your staff and your parents.
c. A youth leader should never counsel a student in privateor travel alone in a car. Always haveprivate conversations where you can be seen.
8. Parents want to know a youth leaderis caring for their teen
A caring youth leader is a leader who shepherds his kids. A shepherd cares for and spends time withevery sheep. When one sheep goes astraythe shepherd goes after her and helps her.
a. Make sure you talk to every teen whocomes through your door. Greet kids in the church lobby who only attend theworship service.
b. When a youth leader communicates to parents, they know you care about their teen.
c. When a youth leader goes to games, plays or eventsparents know they care.
9. Parents want a safe place for their child.
Mothers especially do not feel comfortable sending their children to a place they feel is unsafe. In fact, parents look for safety as a top priority.
a. Make sure games and activities are safe.
b. A well organized and non-cluttered youth group room makes parents feel you are organized andsafe.
c. Parents want to know and see that you have rules in placefor safety.
Yes, parents are a very important part of youth ministry. Your success as a youth leader depends on your relationship with parents. They will always be there for their child when you are out of the picture. Remember, God has given parents the basic responsibility in rearing their children. We, as youth workers are the extension or supporters of the parents.
God tells parents in Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. “