“I just don’t think they really care.” It’s a comment I hear from new youth ministers. They’ll share their frustration regarding a parent’s involvement in their ministry. Sadly they are making a crucial mistake assuming parents do not care. It could not be further from the truth.
Parents care about their teens and that can sometimes be a challenge. Parents will present a miriad of issues. You try to understand them but truth is it’s not that easy. To partner with parents you need to know how to engage them. It also means avoiding these 5 crucial mistakes youth ministers sometimes make. They are:
MAKING THEM OUT TO BE THE ENEMY
Parents are not out to get you. The see you as a resource but are filled with so much emotion. Instead of coming to you rationally they’ll see you as the solution to their problems. Instead of making them out to be the enemy listen to their story and get the whole picture.
A parent that knows you are listening will see you as an ally. They’ll trust you and this is crucial to expanding your influence. Parents are figuring it out. You just might be the closest person to them when they need to let loose.
REPLACING THEM AS PARENTS
It’s not your responsibility to raise their kids. You need to be there to walk with the family, but in the end you can only have so much influence. Remind parents that they can come to you for insight. Do not undermine a parent’s decision. Honor a teen’s parents and it’ll show the teen that their parents are worthy of theirs.
ASSUMING THAT THEY’VE HEARD YOU CLEARLY
It’s crucial to over communicate when it comes to parents. They have so much on their plate that listening to you might be a challenge. Make sure you say, share and communicate enough times so that a parent says, “Enough.” Don’t be afraid to ask them for feedback on what you just said. It’ll be worth the extra effort.
FORGETTING TO CHALLENGE THEM TO GROW
Parents have a great influence on their teens. If you challenge them to grow and go deeper in their faith, then the teens are more likely to follow. By investing in parents you are maximizing your efforts to grow next generation disciples. It’s crucial to challenge parents to grow by:
- Inviting them to serve in a ministry.
- Plugging them into a small group.
- Encouraging them to have difficult conversations with their kids.
They’ll appreciate you walking with them and their kids.
NEVER PRAYING FOR THEM
Parents are a major part of your ministry. Pray that they stay healthy and that their marriages are healthy too. Ask God to work alongside both parents. Pray for understanding so that you can help them and walk with them through the most crucial times.
Parents are not always the easiest to deal with. They have a lot on their plate. They are with their kids far more than you are. Give them assistance by investing in them too. Remind them that you are on their side and they are not alone.
What other crucial mistakes do we make with parents?