As day 2 of the Youth Ministry Leadership Exchange came to a close, we moved to the topic of parents. Specifically, we talked about the importance of partnering with them in our student ministries. It all started with a comedy routine from Andy Stanley’s son, Andrew, who was hilarious. Then, Kara Powell, Kristen Ivy, Reggie Joiner, and Doug Fields shared some insight on this important piece of our ministry.
Kara Powell started by asking, “What if there is one ministry skill that could change this generation?” before suggesting that skill is partnering with parents. Unfortunately, though, we often say parents matter, but as Kara said, “We often have a small view of partnership,” and, “What matters to parents doesn’t matter to us.” She went on to share this important but harsh truth: “Parents will never believe they matter to us if they don’t really matter to us.”
So, why should we truly partner with parents?
- When parents win, kids win.
- When parents win, our churches win.
It’s also important that we know what a win looks like.
- To help parents be more connected to the faith community.
- To help parents be more intentional at home.
After that, Kristen Ivy took the stage to talk about how the shortest distance to a parent might be his or her small group leader. We often take on that role ourselves, as the youth pastor, but what if we empowered our volunteer leaders to help? Kristen then pointed to the end of the Old Testament in Malachi 4:6 and the beginning of the New Testament in Luke 1:17 and said, “What if this was our job? To prepare teenagers to meet Jesus by turning their heart toward their parents and turning the heart of a parent toward their teenager.” After that, she shared four thoughts for small group leaders.
- You may be the best (or only) connection a parent has to the church.
- You may be the best opportunity to communicate what a parent needs to know about our ministry.
- You probably don’t know as much as you think about parenting a teenager.
- It’s your responsibility to keep trying — no matter what.
Reggie Joiner then shared a great story about a single-mom he has been talking to recently. She has been struggling, as can be expected. Reggie mapped out something he had been thinking recently and then asked her if he could share a secret that might make all the difference in the world, which was for her to partner with the church. By doing that, she could be connected with people to help her, come alongside her, support her, and provide resources for her — some of the biggest needs she has as a single-mom. Therefore, as the church, we need to be ready to partner with parents, because we really do have what they need to win as parents.
Doug Fields wrapped up the parenting segment by saying, “I think every parent is hurting somewhere. We can come alongside and see them with that lens.” He then promoted Orange’s “Phase books,” which are great resources for parents. They address each developmental phase from birth through twelfth grade. (If you would like to check them out or purchase them, click here for my Amazon page, where they are all listed.)
What are you doing in your church and community to partner with parents? What is working? What hasn’t worked very well? What are some of your obstacles? I’d love to hear from you, so share your experiences in the comment section!