You’re a children’s or youth pastor, but half your ministry is to the parents of those kiddos. You’re that unique type of ministry leader that has to be good at communicating and relating to kids of multiple ages and, at the same time, also be able to connect with parents in a meaningful way.
It’s a challenge, but every effective family ministry leader is also great at connecting with parents. You can’t just be the fun and friendly children’s pastor or the cool and wise youth pastor. You also have to be a reliable and trustworthy presence for parents.
Why You Should Connect With Parents in Family Ministry
It’s easy for leaders in family ministry to think that their ministry is only about the kids they lead on a Sunday or Wednesday. After all, those are the ones you spend your time leading and serving directly.
But I want to challenge you to think of your ministry as a 50/50 split between kids and their parents. If you only consider your relationship to parents as an afterthought or also-ran, then you’re destined to lead a weakened ministry.
When you engage the parents of your kids, you have a chance for greater ministry outcomes. Here are a few benefits of including parents in your family ministry.
- The time you spend with kids on Sundays or Wednesdays has the chance to be extended beyond those one or two hours.
- You empower parents to lead their kids spiritually in the home.
- You connect parents to the spiritual growth of their kids.
- You challenge parents to own their kids’ exposure to a relationship with God.
- Parents have the chance to be a part of an important aspect of their kids’ lives: their church community.
- You connect the family ministry to the life of the church as a whole instead of family ministry feeling like a bolted-on addition.
- You can justify a bigger budget because your ministry involves more people. (Ok, this isn’t the best reason, but it’s real and helpful.)
The main reason is that, even as a children’s or youth pastor, you have incredible influence over how parents raise their kids. You can empower them in ways that no one else can. And I hope that you take advantage of that opportunity.
13 Ways to Connect with Parents in Your Family Ministry
- At dropoff and pickup – When parents are interacting with your volunteers at dropoff and pickup, you should take the opportunity to connect with parents on a personal level. Let your volunteers handle the technical parts while you make parents feel known and welcome.
- At the check-in station – The check-in station can sometimes feel like a mechanical and impersonal process since many churches now use self-check-in. You can make that experience personal by connecting with parents while they’re printing stickers and helping them wrangle their kids to attach those stickers to their backs.
- In family worship – Jessica Bealer says that family worship, where parents join kids and youth in worship in their own space, will be the future of family ministry. Inviting parents to family ministry worship time is a wonderful way to include them in their kids’ church experience.
- At parent meetings – Not everyone loves meetings, but you can make the meaningful and valuable for parents by including personal connection, training, resourcing, and updates on the direction of your ministry.
- In a Facebook Group – Facebook is losing users among younger generations, but it’s still a decent way to be able to connect with parents throughout the week digitally. A Facebook Group is especially useful at helping parents connect with one another, too.
- On Instagram – Instagram is increasingly becoming the go-to space for younger parents. Your presence on Instagram puts you right in the middle of their daily photo-scrolling habit. Just make sure you provide value there.
- Via a weekly email – Email is still the reigning king of digital communication. While open rates on emails still aren’t perfect, it’s better than Facebook or Instagram posts. Sending a weekly email puts your information front-and-center in their inbox.
- Via text messaging – I’m a fan of text messaging for sending time-sensitive mass digital communication. While it’s easy to overdo it and annoy your parents with too many messages, the occasional text message is welcome.
- In a group chat – Chat groups are becoming the most popular way that people interact digitally. It’s becoming so popular, in fact, that Facebook is shifting their entire $100 billion business to focus on it. You can connect with parents in smaller groups chats based on which room/group their kid is in. That way you aren’t pulling parents into a group chat wit 100 other people.
- By phone – Nothing beats a phone call for personal digital communication. Millennials tend to shy away from phone calls and prefer texting as a trend, but a brief, encouraging phone call from you will be welcome, I guarantee. But, like texting, just don’t overdo it.
- Over coffee or lunch – I love meeting people at my local coffee shop for a 30 minute chat. I’d encourage you to make time for a weekly coffee meeting with a parent every week. You’ll not only have the chance to encourage them, you’ll also learn a ton about the challenges your parents are facing, which will help you minister to them more effectively.
- At their home – Visiting someone at their home is a great way to step into their world and show that you care about them as a whole family, not just a child in your ministry. An impromptu visit, with no notice, isn’t customary anymore (unless you’re in rural America where old-school community still rules), but offering to bring by a treat for the family that also includes a brief visit is a great way to get your foot in the door, literally.
- At your home – I’m a huge fan of ministry leaders opening their home to the families they lead. Not only does it help them see that you’re a normal person just like them, you’ll find that you are modeling biblical hospitality, too. Everyone wins.
When you connect with parents, empower them to lead their kids, and resource them for success, you are increasing the overall effectiveness of your ministry. Put another way, you will have greater personal impact.
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