So, how are you doing in partnering with Parents in your ministry?
There are many things about student ministry that make it challenging. Countless books, articles, and blog posts have been written about the unique task of raising up students who genuinely love Jesus and will make an impact on the world for the sake of the Gospel.
Student ministry has gone through phases of focus throughout its brief history. Largely activity driven thus far, the pendulum over the last few years has been swinging toward families (praise Jesus!).
However, the question we should be asking ourselves is not “are partnering with parents,” but rather, “how effectively and intentionally are we partnering with parents for the sake of the Gospel.”
The truth is we have always partnered with parents. We were just really lousy at it. Not convinced? Let me explain:
Lets say we have an empty glass. You and I also each have a pitcher of water. To fill the glass we both begin to pour water from our pitchers into the glass. Now, you could pour more into the glass than I do. You could also pour cleaner water into the glass than I do. Either way, we are partnering together to fill the glass.
Since parents have an impact on their children (much more that they think and we are sometimes willing to admit), and we are also trying to influence their children, we are partnering. This is true whether you like it or not. In light of this reality, here are a seven questions to ask that are essential to partnering effectively:
Have I been here long enough?
This may be the single greatest thing keeping you from effectively partnering with parents. Fair or not trust takes time to build. If you are not a parent yet this may be difficult to understand. I was an expert on parenting until I became one…then I realized I was clueless. As a parent I want to put people around my kids that I trust. I want to know what they hear helps reinforce what I am teaching them at home. It takes time for me to really get to know and trust someone to lead my kids.
Are you building a ministry or a culture?
If numbers are your only measurement of success, then you will always fail. The numbers game drives us to a trap of comparison. There will always be a ministry larger, and always be a ministry smaller. Events will change based on your current ministry context. We spend so much energy at times building a ministry rather than focusing on building a lasting culture within our ministry.
Hopefully you are praying for your students, but how often are you praying for the parents of your students?
If you are not consistently praying for your students you should be. The parents you serve desperately need your prayers as well. Pray for them by name. Pray for them by need if you know it. Let them know you are praying for them. Prayers for the parents affect your students.
Are you making room for parents in your ministry?
It is one thing to say parents are welcome in your ministry…it is another thing to say parents are wanted in your ministry. We must provide on-ramps for parents to get plugged into our ministries. If they own it, they will support it.
Are you asking parents how the ministry is doing?
If you are not seeking out the appraisal of your ministry from your parents, you are making a grave mistake. How can you really know how to minister to your students and their families if you never ask?
Are you clearly and consistently communicating with parents?
Too often we make the mistake of assuming everyone knows what is going on. The fact is you must over communicate…and then over communicate some more. As a parent, I can tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than not knowing what is going on. Parents will never trust you, if they do not know what is going on in your ministry.