Your First 2 Years in Youth Ministry - 7 Best Practices: Parental Guidance

Posted on by YFC Seattle

By Warren Mainard, CORE & Youth Ministry Network Director

Practice Two: Keep Your Youth Ministry PG - Parental Guidance and involvement is essential.


I’m just not sure that Monsters, Inc. is appropriate for my son.

When you get into youth ministry, you probably weren’t thinking about how you would respond to over-protective parents who are questioning whether or not the youth group should be watching a Rated G movie.  It is easy in those moments to see parents as an obstacle to what you are trying to accomplish in the lives of your students.  They don’t get you and your methods and they don’t always seem to understand why student ministry is so important for their child.  Perhaps you have had parents tell you that they are trying to teach their kids to honor their commitments, and that is why they will be doing something else on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights.  Or, maybe a parent has grounded their kids from youth group.  They don’t understand how video games are a tool for relationship, how messy games build camaraderie or how retreats can provide the necessary break from daily pressures to be able to hear God’s voice.

While parents can be a hassle at times, they are absolutely necessary for the health of your students and your ministry.  Parents are not a problem to be avoided, they are a key part of your ministry to be invested in.  Every healthy youth ministry will have an active involvement from parents of students.  Here are four simple steps for involving parents in your student ministry:

  1. Don’t Communicate… Over-Communicate:  Never assume that students are filling their parents in on all of the details and dates within the ministry.  Use every means possible - Text, Email, Letter, Facebook group, announcements, bulletin, etc. to make sure that parents are fully aware of every detail needed within the youth ministry.  Nothing will get parents more frustrated with their teens youth leader than lack of communication.
  2. Invite and Include:  Student ministry has often been a drop-off ministry.  Invite parents to volunteer in your weekly ministry and scheduled trips.  Designate at least 2-3 youth nights per year for parents to come, participate, hear the vision and learn about upcoming events in the youth ministry. Consider inviting parents out to lunch or for a cup of coffee just to hear their struggles and pray for them.  You will learn that parents often have unique insights that will inform your preaching and teaching to their teens.
  3. Equip and Encourage: Offer books and other resources to parents who want to grow in a particular area.  Ask a parent of an active Junior or Senior to share a testimony of how their student has benefited from involvement in the student ministry.  Send notes to parents reminding them of how important and influential they are in the lives of their teens and how you are praying for them.
  4. Ask for Help:  As you build relationships with the parents, you will find that they are your greatest resource for help.  Don’t position yourself as an all-knowing, all-sufficient expert, but rather, admit that you are trying to figure this out with them.  Ask them to partner with you and to bring their experiences to the table as a resource.  Seek their input when planning the youth calendar or the next teaching series.

Parents can be a mixed bag… but let’s be honest, so can we.  The stronger the relationship, the greater the trust, the deeper the grace for one another will be. Parental Guidance in youth ministry is not a scary thing… unless of course you are scared by Monsters, Inc.

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