by Scott Rubin
I’m one of those who loves to hold onto Summertime as lonnnnnng as possible. It’s easily my favorite season of the year! And yet, the undeniable reality of the school year is that it’s either here right now, or else coming toward us like a giant wave.
In youth ministry, there are a million things to be prepping for as the school year starts—but hidden in the midst of it all is the opportunity to get off on the right foot with PARENTS! If you’re with me in believing that a student’s mom and/or dad have an enormous influence on their spiritual development, then we really have to come up with ways to connect with those parents so we can make the “Partner with Parents” mantra actually come true.
Try a Parents Weekend. Every fall, we throw open the doors to our middle school ministry gathering and invite parents to come to the whole thing. Yep, we definitely get some whining from students . . . and even a few who end up telling parents that “Elevate is cancelled” this week, lest their parents even consider showing up. It’s a great way for parents to have a look inside what happens at your ministry—but I believe that it can influence an even greater opportunity:
Leader/Parent Connection! We have our Parents Weekend a month into the school year, and we ask all of our volunteer small group leaders to touch base with parents before that weekend. Not just to invite them to come but to catch up with the parents about how things are going with their kid! If you’ve been in youth ministry for any length of time, you can get a ton of information about a student’s situation when you talk to someone from the home front. With our Parents Weekend looming a few weeks out, it’s great motivation for our small group leaders to connect with parents ahead of time. Otherwise, the risk of “back burner-ing” parent connection often seems to win . . . and the Wave sweeps over us!
What are some ways that you connect with parents in your church? What types of events or communications are making the most difference in your ministry in terms of connecting with parents?
For more information about the Orange Strategy and partnering with parents, visit www.ThinkOrange.com.
Scott Rubin is the director of Elevate, the junior high ministry at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago. He’s been on staff at Willow for many years—14 of those years working specifically with middle school students, volunteers, and parents. Along with serving on Willow Creek’s leadership team, Scott is also a speaker and author of books like Middle School Ministry, The Red Stuff and the teen edition of John Ortberg’s The Me I Want to Be.