By Ryan Reed
Every person who works with teenagers, including youth pastors, teachers, recreation leaders, coaches, and so on, must critically consider how to build bridges into parent partnerships for the sake of long-term, sustainable work with teenagers. Intentionally building these in-roads will foster trust between you and the parent, make you aware of the dynamics within the family, and ultimately, leverage the influence of the parent for the sake of your own.
Good youth ministry is good ministry with parents.
Parent partnerships are biblical, as set forth in the early teachings of Scripture in Deuteronomy 6, and it is a strategic approach for ministry with minors. It is time-intensive, consuming, and difficult to initiate.
I want to propose 5 essential reflection questions for you to work through with your ministry leaders and parents in order to begin the process of building a healthy partnership. If you approach these questions with humility, gentleness, and integrity, you will have a partner and advocate for the duration of your ministry.
These questions have been inspired by Michael Bayne, a leader in the Family Ministries world and a parent partnership guru:
1. What is your strategic plan to create trust between you, your ministry, and your parents?
2. Is it possible to communicate or partner with every parent hose child is involved in your ministry environment? What would you consider most important to communicate? Is your communication plan targeted to parents or kids? What social media outlets can you use and how would you use them to better communicate with your parents?
3. Are you using your curriculum in such a way that partners with parents or simply ‘teaches Sunday school?’ What steps could you take to equip and encourage your parents to reinforce the curriculum at home?
4. How consistent is your environment? How does a parent feel when they leave their child in your environment? What works well, and what needs to change?
5. How much of your ministry budget is used to partner with parents? What things could shift in order to create more space in your budget for building parent partnerships? How many people on your church staff dedicate time to building parent partnerships? How many dates have you set aside on your calendar to connect with parents? How many square feet of building space have been set aside for building parent partnerships?
Work through these questions, invest time into your parents, and observe trust grow among your ministry in ways that you have never before dreamed.
QUESTION: What limits you from building strong, healthy parent partnerships?
Ryan is the Pastor to Students and Families at Hillside Church in Corte Madera, CA, and has been serving in my current position since August 2011. Ryan loves waking in the morning, knowing that he is headed to serve in a role for which he was created to do!
“5 Questions You Need to Ask to Build Parent Partnerships” first appeared on Ryan’s blog, http://ryanreed.me/blog/ on May 21st 2013. Used with permission.