It’s Monday morning. Time to head to work and get this week’s plan ironed out for youth group and Sunday school. First, write lessons with opportunities for my middle schoolers to have meaningful discussions with their small group leaders and ponder what it means to be a Christ-follower, a disciple-maker, and a friend to others. Second, send emails to small group leaders about plans for the week to set them up for success. And then…
The dreaded newsletter to be sent to families about the week.
See, this newsletter is the crux of what I do in a week. It cues families about discussions their kids are going to have at church and informs them about upcoming youth events. I also share lesson details and questions that parents can ask their kids regarding what they’ve been learning so they can dig deeper into these truths at home.
But only one person reads this newsletter each week.
I dread this newsletter because of all the potential it has that doesn’t get utilized by families. I make it harder to write than it has to be because in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “Nobody’s going to read this anyways.” But I realized something recently: “What if families just don’t know about this potential? What if I’m creating resources to grow the family and working to partner with parents and parents just don’t know?”
It’s common in ministries in our culture to hear the phrase “partner with parents.” It comes from the Orange Group in Atlanta as part of their Orange Theory. Partnering with parents is how youth ministries leverage the 3,000 hours parents get with their child each year versus the 40 hours a youth pastor gets with a child in that same year. The goal is to create and run a ministry that provides resources and events that grow the parents’ influence with a child so they can develop and mature their child’s faith instead of the church being the sole spiritual teacher in their life.
Maybe parents don’t know it yet, but most ministries are creating their programs around parents and families!
So I want to try to conquer this question today: how can parents partner with their child’s youth ministry?
1. Know that we make resources for you.
Youth and children’s pastors know that we only have so much time with kids per year—maybe only an hour each week, sometimes more depending on programming and events. Of these times with kids, we may only get 15-20 minutes of good, meaningful conversation time. It’s a monumental task to teach a child how to live wholeheartedly for Christ in that much time per week.
Think of it like learning piano or any other instrument. There are lessons with an instructor each week, but the real learning happens at home each day with hours of practice.
The lessons and resources youth and children’s pastors create and send home are all for parents to help kids practice their faith outside of church. They may have verbiage that helps kids remember what was talked about at church, but the learning happens when they use the skills and discussions from church at their schools, homes, and communities. We make the resources for you, and we’re excited to share them with you.
2. Tell us if you used our resources.
Everyone likes feedback, whether good or bad (I like the good feedback most). Feedback helps us grow and be better at what we do. Most youth and children’s pastors want to do better, so feedback goes a long ways. Let us know what you thought! How did it help? Or if it didn’t, how come?
Even just a note or small conversation saying that the resources were used lets us know that what we’re doing mattered. One of the most encouraging parts of my week is when a parent or small group leader sends me a reply to one of my emails, even if all it says is, “I read this.” It lets me know that the information provided was used, and I’ll continue to write to help all of us succeed.
3. Know that we want you to succeed.
It may seem like youth and children’s pastors get to have all the fun: playing dodgeball, going camping, doing crafts, eating pizza, etc. But we have a greater goal than to be a kid again or to relive the glory days of middle school. We want to see families flourish.
We want to see kids’ faith come alive, and we want to hear how the gospel is transforming your home, their school, and their community because of their faith in Jesus.
Even though we spend most our time with kids, families are the center of what we do. Youth ministry is all about the family, and that includes parents. We care about you, we know what you’re going through, and we want to help in any way we can. We want to see you succeed as a parent, and we trust that God is working in you to do so!
Ultimately, youth and children’s pastors desire to partner with parents to see the kingdom of God grow. Young people have the potential to change the world when they’re equipped to love God, love others, and make disciples. That potential increases when the local church and families partner together to love, serve, and bear fruit for Christ. Your local youth ministry wants to help parents and see them succeed in raising world-changing, Christ-following disciple-makers.