Partnering with Parents in Youth Ministry
Parents are the primary faith influencers, and youth ministry volunteers are the critical third party voice. When working in tandem, parents and volunteers reinforce from all angles how to walk with Christ. Partnering with parents in youth ministry allows us to dig even deeper into a student’s life, model a godly life from various positions, and empower students to carry their ownership of their faith as they walk through the doors of adulthood.
Parents are the most important and influential people in a student’s life. Youth ministry volunteers are the outsiders who demonstrate the same life and spiritual values from a perspective outside of the family system. In order to be effective and transformational, parents and volunteers have to be on the same page and work together. Here are three tips that pave the way to do just that:
3 Key Components for Partnering with Parents in Youth Ministry
1. Creating Open Communication
An open line of communication is one of the most important ingredients in the relationship between volunteers and parents. Partnering with parents in youth ministry brings more freedom and trust because they are informed about a volunteer’s goals for a student, and volunteers gain confidence when they know they’re mentoring within parents’ guidelines for a student. This doesn’t mean every detail of a student’s life is revealed and discussed at meetings; it just means that there are regular opportunities to check in, share wins, and confront problems or obstacles together.
2. Cultivating Mutual Respect
Parents and volunteers must also have mutual respect for one another. Both parties are making an investment in the spiritual growth of a student, but each party understands different aspects of a student’s life. Parents understand a student’s history better than anyone else, but a volunteer will see and likely understand a student’s life outside of the family context. Because parents know parts of their student’s story that a volunteer cannot know, a volunteer must respect and support parents’ decisions and desires. Partnering with parents in youth ministry can also give volunteers the ability to build a relationship that is uniquely different than a parental relationship. It takes a great deal of respect to have two coexisting parties with different roles and responsibilities, but wise parents and volunteers will respect and value the role of the other.
“When parents and volunteers spend time dreaming together and determining goals for a student’s growth and development the outcome is an individualized spiritual development plan for each student.”
3. Confronting a Shared Mission
Parents and volunteers need each other; neither one is completely effective alone. Having a shared mission unites parents and volunteers, allowing them to work together more successfully. Once you start partnering with parents in youth ministry it gives both parties the chance to spend time dreaming together and determining goals for a student’s growth and development. The outcome is an individualized spiritual development plan for each student. Parents drive home foundational truths, and volunteers begin to smooth out the rough edges in a student’s development, which parents may struggle to reach. Together parents and volunteers can support one another, encourage one another, and ultimately, challenge students toward growth and consistency.
When a student hears a message only from one place, they are likely to compartmentalize it. So when following Christ is only embraced in the home and at church, it is easy for a student’s faith to become environmental. Having a Christ-like influence outside of the home helps take the “daily grind” mindset out of a student’s faith and allows students to safely process and apply their faith in even more areas of their life. But parents and volunteers must work together. I encourage you to communicate regularly, show value for your respective roles, and get on the same page about your goals for your student.
If you are a volunteer and haven’t checked in lately with your student’s parents, go out to coffee and encourage and pray together for your student. If you are a parent, give your student’s youth ministry volunteer a phone call and check in. You may learn something great about your student you never knew. Together parents and volunteers are a force to be reckoned with!
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