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Three questions every youth ministry must ask parents

3 questions every youth ministry should ask parents A couple days ago someone asked a question about connecting with parents at MinistryQuestions.com. It reminded me of last summer when I had two open-house dinners at my house for parents in our youth group. Neither meeting was very large. In fact, there was even some overlap between the two dinners of parents who came both times. But the one-on-one time with parents without kids around was still very valuable.

After some time to hang out and eat together, we all sat in a circle and discussed some of these questions openly. However, looking back, I see the value in asking these three questions privately with every set of parents represented in the youth ministry on a consistent basis.

1. What’s going on in your family and your kid’s life right now that would help me and the youth leaders know how to best work with your student?
We’re here to partner with parents, but no partnership works very well if the partners are off doing different things without communicating with each other. Ask parents about what they see going in in their kid’s lives that would be helpful information for you and any other appropriate youth leaders to know. What stories are both you and the parents hearing about school? What indicators of spiritual growth do you and the parents see coming from their life? Listen to parents share stories, but be sure you also share with them stories and insights you’ve picked up through their involvement in the ministry.

2. How can the youth ministry support you and your family better?
After you’ve heard a bit about what’s happening in that kid’s life at home, ask parents how they feel the youth ministry can best come alongside and continue to support them. That’s doesn’t mean you should bow to their every request — sometimes their expectations will be unrealistic. Use those times to gently share why you can’t or shouldn’t meet those expectations while giving an alternate suggestion that’s more appropriate.

3. How are YOU doing spiritually right now?
We all know that the spirituality of the parents is often reflected in their students, except their kids don’t try to hide it as much. That’s why the spiritual health of the students is often dependant on the spiritual health of their parents. Kids reflect what they see modeled for them. Ensure that parents are growing spiritually and that it’s overflowing into their family, their children, their teenagers, and their marriages.


Posted on March 3, 2009

  • http://deepnwide.wordpress.com Jason

    Great insights Tim. It has been on my heart lately to do a better job connecting with the parents of the teens in my small group.

  • http://www.danaschmoyer.com Dana Schmoyer

    Great post. I’m hoping we’ll be able to do another parent dinner before the school year is up for the parents of up coming teens into the youth group.

  • Mike

    Can you elaborate on how you asked these questions? On the couch in their house? In your office? Form letter? Phone call? At the Open House Dinner? Over Twitter? Carrier Pigeon? Ok, I digress.

    I’m just curious. Thanks.

  • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

    @Mike: I asked them over dinner at my house, some of them generally to the group of parents, some of them to individuals.

  • http://www.disruptivefaith.com Josh Christian

    Great post Tim, one of the key takeaways from the NYMC that I’m learning is that Youth Ministry isn’t so much a ministry to just Youth, but rather a ministry to their families. I’m already laying some stuff out for our team as to how we can better minister to the parents of the kids in our group. And by focusing on that, I believe that many of the issues that arise in ministry can be minimized. And besides, the better we understand the student’s families, the better we can minister to them as well.

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  • Shawn Harrison

    Great idea, Tim. Could you elaborate on the dinner part? How did you set it up? When did you have it? The reaction from it? Etc.

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      I had two dinners at our house each summer, one on a Monday night and the other on a Thursday night so one or the other would hopefully work with everyone's schedules. Parents would RSVP at the church office and sign up to bring a drink, main dish, desert, salad, or whatever. Then we'd just hang out and talk at my house and eventually all sit around our dinner table together and eat and talk. The most we ever had (of a youth group of 250) was 12 parents, so we could do the "sit at the table together" thing.

  • mike

    i like it i am looking to be youth minister soon and i want to say nice insite and thanks for the three majoir questions

    • http://timschmoyer.com/ Tim Schmoyer

      Sure thing! You’re welcome!

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