How To Run Family Worship Night

October 1, 2013     Austin Walker    

It’s Orange Week! Our team here at absolutely loves the Orange philosophy, their crew, their conference, and curriculum. A few of us were asked to focus this week on aspects of Orange, and we love participating every year in Orange week!

Over the past few years, our ministry has hosted a Family Worship Night every year. The purpose for the night is to give parents opportunities to engage with their students on a spiritual level and give them some form of takeaway that night to impact and encourage spiritual conversations moving forward.  Each campus has approached this in a different way, depending on the context of our community!

As student pastors/ministers/directors/volunteers/leaders, Orange hits the nail on the head…we only get a fraction of the time with students their families get.  We cannot be the primary discipleship avenue in a student’s life!  Sometimes, the family isn’t in the picture, and that’s a reality we encounter regularly, but in an ideal situation we assist the parents.  So a large part of our job needs to be focused on encouraging these types of discussions and dynamics with families – hence Family Worship Night.

I want to give you a couple things to think through when hosting your own Family Worship Night, a couple ways you could approach it, and finally, a free download to use in your own ministry!


  • Typically, we’ve hosted ours when we already have worship services.  For us, that means we pick a Wednesday night that is not a week our numbers are typically down. You know the ebb and flow of your own ministry and community, so think through the implications of WHEN to do your service.
  • Do you want to provide food? One of our campuses brings in a dinner for families to share together (each family member pays at the door). Our campus does not have space to do this, so we choose not to include food. If we could, we probably would….but we can’t…so we don’t!
  • Make sure your leaders know in advance. Our small group leaders are not a part of our weekly worship services (for a lot of reasons), but on Family Worship Night, they’re there in force! It’s a HUGE opportunity for them to connect with parents, and typically our leaders stand-in for parents when students show up without someone.
  • What is your goal for the night? I’ll unpack two options below.
  • Don’t be afraid of getting face time. Odds are, many parents won’t be very familiar with you, so make sure in the beginning of the night you introduce yourself and let them get to know you a little bit. They’re sending their student to you weekly, so make sure they see you.
  • PUBLICIZE THE EVENT!  Make sure parents know about the evening. Whether you do a mailer, make phone calls, have small group leaders call the parents in their group, send out an email, whatever you need to do, make sure you are letting parents know about 3 weeks before the night!
  • Pray. Pray like crazy. You will have students show up without parents. You’ll have parents show up out of obligation. Lord willing, you’ll have parents show up who know nothing about Jesus. The opportunities are literally endless, so pray for the Holy Spirit to move through the night!  Do not wait until an hour before doors open to ask God to bless what you’ve already built.  Soak it. Bathe it. Cover it. Pray it up.



  • PURPOSE: Show parents a glimpse of what their students experience each week.
  • Keep the program structure changes minimal.
  • If your ministry does games, do a game that will engage families together. I’ve done games like an adaptation of the Newlywed Game or Pictionary. If you need game ideas, head over to Fun Ninja. As you are finding a game, keep asking yourself, “What can I do that will give a family a memory….without including a hospital visit.”
  • The service itself is not one that lends itself to fostering spiritual conversations, so I try and have give-aways and resources available for parents to see in the lobby.
  • In years past, I’ve given away and/or sold copies of 30 Days by Richard RossParenting Beyond Your Capacity99 Thoughts For Parents of Teenagers, and this year, I’ll give away a copy of Playing for Keeps. You can have drawings, give them as game prizes, or simply have them available for sale.
  • Tailor messages to include families, not just students, but don’t change the way you would normally program a service.
  • When I’ve done this in our ministry, it’s usually in the middle of a series. I want the parents to see how we’re teaching, unpacking, and connecting concepts in the context of a series.



  • PURPOSE: Helping parents engage with their students, break down “awkward barriers,” and give them a practical takeaway that will hopefully ripple effect into other areas of life.
  • Typically, I preach in a youth service. And by preach, I mean the past 5 times I’ve been up I’ve been closer to 40 minutes than I am to 20.  For a night like this, I shift my focus to facilitating conversations.
  • We still do games and worship like we would in Option 1.
  • During the “message” portion, families move chairs into circles, and I facilitate conversations where the parents and students are talking about various aspects of life and theology.
  • Think about what you want them to leave having said and gear your message and questions around that. Do you want them to open up about how they see God working in their student? Do you want them to have conversations about the poor decisions parents have made and how God came through? Do you want a dad to tell his son how proud he is of them?
  • I usually have some soft, reflective music in the booth ready to go (or have your worship leader pick at the guitar). This fills the awkward void and lets people feel like other families aren’t listening in.
  • PRO’s: A lot of parents want these conversations but don’t know how to initiate them.  You’re helping them open up and share their heart.  Students want their parents to share, but don’t know how to initiate it either!
  • CON’s: You will have students show up without parents.  Have small group leaders there and available to help process the topics with them. In the end, you can’t hit every student and every parent in one night. This is a shotgun night, not a sniper rifle night.  Your aim is the broad group.

Option 2 can feel daunting, so here’s what I want to do!  For the next week, you can download my manuscript from our last Family Worship Night at our campus! Keep in mind, you get what you pay for, but there is only one stipulation.  IF you use this, LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES!  Even if you don’t want to use it, this could give you a more tangible idea of how I approached the night and help spawn some ideas that would better fit your ministry and your families.


If parent ministry or family ministry is a growing desire in your ministry, do not miss the opportunity to sign up for The Orange Conference on October 10th.  The people at Orange “get” families, students, kids, and ministry and do an incredible job at equipping churches for pouring into the family!

Categories: FeaturedSlider, Free, preaching, Resources, Teaching Series, Youth Ministry Design, Youth Worship

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