There’s a funny saying about voting: Vote early and vote often! Clearly it’s a tongue-in-cheek statement, but I do think the phrase is incredibly applicable to communication, especially within student ministry.
In a world with many stereotypes about youth pastor who fly by the seats of their pants and don’t have a plan, you can make a difference by simply changing how and how often you communicate!
Communicate early. I don’t think you can start to communicate too early. For mission trips, I like to let people know at least a year out. For summer camp, I try to tell everyone as soon as I know. For this year, it was back in October. And you know what? Parents loved getting the news that early! Some people say there is a sweet spot when it comes to publicity, and I don’t necessarily disagree with all those statistics. You can come up with a strategic plan to continually publicize, but the first notice about events can and should go out as early as possible.
Communicate often. People are busy and they forget, so make sure you have a plan to continually share what is going on in your ministry. I have a weekly email that I send to all students’ parents that includes what we talked about last week, what we’re covering this upcoming week, some ideas on how to take the conversation home, and reminders of upcoming events and deadlines. We also have a plan for posting on social media on a weekly/daily basis. There is no special plan that everyone must follow, but the important thing is to have a plan in order to do communicate as often as possible.
I’ve recently had several students’ parents share incredibly positive comments on how I’ve been communicating with them. And I do not say that to brag. I just want to share, because I’ve not done anything radical. I’ve just followed these two principles.
So again, the bottom line is to communicate early and communicate often. I promise it will help your families stay in the loop, and it will strengthen your relationships with parents.