How to Lead a Mission Trip Parents Meeting
The mission trip parent meeting can be one of the most dangerous meetings for a youth worker to lead. How you approach this meeting can make or break the trip. If it goes well, parents will buy in. If not, you’ve got a problem on your hands.
Think about it this way. You’re taking their students on a mission trip (1) to get them outside their comfort zone, (2) to help them learn about service, and (3) to allow them to see what God is doing in the world.
Translation for parents: you’re taking their students on a dangerous trip.
Your idea of a growing experience may be their idea of a death march!
“The mission trip parent meeting can be one of the most dangerous meetings for a youth worker to lead.”
Most parents believe mission trips are a great way for their kids to experience new challenges and see what God is doing in other parts of the world (in theory). But when it comes to where their student is sleeping, showering and ministering…things can change.
I have had the chance to lead many of these meetings. Let me share with you what I have learned both from my mistakes and from my wins. Here are a few pro tips for leading a great meeting:
1. Start with safety
We often times like to start these meeting with all the potential great results that can happen on a mission trip but when we do we only reinforce parents fear that we don’t see the danger that is all around us. Instead, start by acknowledging that there are safety concerns and you have made it you’re number one priority to keep students safe. Then list all the safety measures you have put into place. Don’t forget driving, locking of team quarters at night, keeping track of the team at all times and a plan for regular communication back home. Explain the sleeping arrangements, the shower schedule and the dining situation. These items show parents that you are focused on their students. When you start here, you’ll put parents at ease and give them confidence that you understand how they feel.
2. How ministry will be done
Take some time and share about the ministry aspect of the trip. You’ll want to communicate why it’s important, how it helps people in need, and the specific safety precautions that will be taken at the site.
For work projects, let parents know who is going to be on the work site and how you know its safe for them to be around their students. Share what tools will be used and how students are going to be allowed to use them. If power tools are part of your project, make sure to explain to parents how training will be conducted before the trip starts. Discuss ladder safety and what precautions will be used if students need to leave the ground. Falling of ladders and roofs are always a point of concern.
For ministry sites, it’s important to let parents know that students will never be alone and that students will work in teams with one adult always having their eyes on students. It’s also important to let parents know who will be on site and how you know its safe for them to be around their students.
3. Share expected impact
Let parents know what you expect the impact to be of their students’ service. Make sure to focus on what their students will learn. This is the key for parents. They tend to care more about what their students will take away from the experience than who the experience helps. This is not to say that they don’t care about the mission or the people your team will help, but their primary concern is likely their own student’s growth and development.
As youth workers, we’re planning the mission trip because we know how students will grow and the impact they can have on a town or in a neighborhood. We also know how a trip can help a student grow close with the Lord and in some cases it change the trajectory of a students life.
As you host your parent meeting, be careful. While all this is true, it’s not the way a parent looks at a trip. Start with safety, communicate how ministry we’ll be done, and share the expected impact on the lives of their students. If you do, you’ll avoid the potential pitfalls of a parent meeting and leave parents feeling supremely confident and entirely bought in to the trip.
About the Author
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