student ministry, youth worker, youth ministry

Beyond Parent Seminars

By Doug Franklin November 19, 2012

Youth workers are more and more focused on parent ministry. They want to do a better job of communicating with parents and including parents in the ministry. Some youth workers are changing their program model and doing less student activities and doing more family activities. It’s no longer acceptable to shut parents out or to think they are obstacles to reaching students. So what does a youth ministry look like that includes parents? From what I have seen it’s a parent seminar. The best we can come up with is offering a teaching or training on what parents and students are thinking. I guess our goal is better understanding of each other. Not a bad goal. But what is really the purpose of including parents in our youth ministries? I believe it’s discipling parents to walk the way of Christ. What else could it be? I think the best reason for including parents is because they are not modeling Christ as they should, they are actually hurting students by placing material items and comfort above Christ. We teach them about serving, sacrifice, commitment and perseverance and they go home and see their primary faith influencers living a very different Christianity. Honestly, I am a little late to this conversation, others have thought a lot more about parent ministries but here are a few of my thoughts:

1.  Youth workers are going to need to learn to lead-up if they are going to be successful in parent ministry. We are going to have to be more professional, more focused on details and we are going to have to be able to challenge the adult Christian lifestyle. Challenging students is tough sometimes but nothing compared to challenging an older adult who thinks they are your boss.

2. We are going to have to move past seminars and create parent/student activities. That may mean father/son, father/daughter, mother/daughter, mother/son or family but real learning takes place through experiences not seminars. So put your creative hat on and think way outside the box. Retreats, mission trips and summer camp may all look different but the real challenge will be in how we debrief and create teachable moments from these events. Application in family ministry looks a lot different then it does in youth ministry. How are youth workers going to keep parents from the mentality that just “doing” the activity is enough.

3. We are going to need great cooperation with adult ministries. The youth worker and the senior pastor are both ministering to the same families but in very different ways, now they need to work together. This to me is a real obstacle. This is like two different cultures coming together. We are going to need to be servant leaders in order to pull this off.

4. Family ministry can pull us away from outreach and evangelism. We need to integrate evangelism into the parent/student activities and I am concerned that parents will struggle with this.

5. Parents’ involvement in youth ministry could limit opportunities for students to lead. I am not saying that students leadership is more important but in our culture many parents feel the need to do everything for students. Youth ministry has been one of those places that has been trying to provide more opportunities for students to lead and get out from under parents’ wings. Youth workers will need to train parents on how to develop leadership in their students by not always rescuing them when they get into difficult situations.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More