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Session by Jeremy Zach
Connecting with parents is not about taking one big step. It’s about taking many small, intentional, and strategic steps. Connecting with parents is the first effort in partnering with parents in student ministry.
Four levels of partnership:
Aware // Parents (fringe parents) are outside of the church but open to and want to become better parents.
Involved // Parents that have a basic or entry level relationship with the church.
Engaged // These parents are intentional about doing something. They want more resources to lead their student or teen.
Invested // Parents who have proactively devoted time and energy to participate in the life of the church.
This session focuses on the aware and involved parents. We want to move them one step. About 60% of parents won’t break through to invested, best case scenario.
How to connect with parents in a small daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly steps.
1. Act like every parent wants to connect with you. This may seem way too optimistic or realistic, but you have to have the mindset, because if you don’t, you’ll start to blow off the connection. Believe in them. Believe they want to become better parents.
2. Deliver on promises. Anything you communicate or promise, deliver on. Be home when you say you’ll be home. End youth on time.
3. Protect teens. You have to think like a parent. Parents are entrusting you with their students, honor that, protect their kids. Background checks. Medical release forms. Stop the pranks, hazing, and bullying. Have safe, reliable transportation.
4. Return ALL calls and emails. Moms love the phone. Don’t blow that off.
5. Respect parents. They’re the primary authority, respect them if you expect it in return. For example, when you talk about sex, let your parents know what will be said.
6. Commit to praying for parents.
1. Get to know parents and meet with them. We need to know them as people before they know us as spiritual leaders. Be willing to meet them wherever they are. 6 AM? Do it.
2. Create great environments for teens. If your students love the environment and the people, they go home smiling, and report well to mom and dad.
3. Communicate, communicate…reiterate. If they do Facebook, do that. If they do snail mail, do that. Try to find a way to integrate multiple mediums into one. Do three things, inform, equip, encourage.
4. Invite parents with a purpose. Open door policy is great, but think about how effective it is. Be strategic and intentional. Invite them in.
5. Be seen. Go and visit. Be seen on Sunday. It’s the only time their on your turf, so it’s essential. Seeing you via social media isn’t enough, so go talk to them. Be in the community.
MONTHLY and QUARTERLY
1. Training for unchurched and churched parents. Get licensed Christian counselors to come in and talk about their specialty. When you get those engaged and invested parents, let them start planning those events.
2. Listen. It communicates humility and that you’re open to their needs. Family assessment surveys where you ask a bunch of different information. About your family, tv shows, movies, needs, topics needing to be addressed,
3. Value organization. Youth workers aren’t known for a high level of this. Get organized or find a team that love organization. Create calendars.
4. Get parents early. Transitions from elementary to middle school, work really hard to get those parents in that transition. Those transitions are huge. Be strategic. Same with their students.
5. Find others who can help you. Don’t pretend like you’re a parent if you’re not. Go find people who are to speak into you. Empty nesters can be a great resource.
Remember these three things…
1. Get parents to take one small step in the right direction to connect with you.
2. These small steps will exponentially transform your parent partnership and connection.
3. Celebrate the small wins.
ACTION STEP: I need to do better about calling and contacting parents one on one throughout the week. I do parent emails for updates. But, how easy is it for me to just send an email to a parent every few days saying, “How can I pray for your family?”