America is changing. (I’m sure you’ve noticed.) The days of a “majority” are coming to an end. Multiculturalism is stepping up to the mic to sing its song while monoculture is exiting stage left.
I believe that God created us all, and He made us different for a reason. The human race represents a microcosm of a big God who is multifaceted. Each one of our cultures represents another aspect of an amazing God. And when we come together, our unique piece of the puzzle joins with another to complete a perfect picture of an all-encompassing God.
With all of this in mind, how do you build your ministries in a way that engages parents who aren’t all the same? If we take a look around us, we’ll see parents with different traditions, economic status, and cultural idiosyncrasies.
My wife, Toni Collier, is a Communicator and Project Lead at Gwinnett Church in Sugar Hill, Georgia. She made a great point recently when asked how she engaged parents and built a youth ministry that, in just two years, grew from ten kids to hundreds.
“Engaging a diverse parental community, for me, is being intentional about filling in the gaps that they are not able to fill themselves. From single parent homes to students who have basic needs, our maximum impact came with figuring out what our communities’ needs were and fighting to be their solution.”
In talks with experts, “communication” consistently rose to the surface as we unpacked amazing strategies for engaging diverse parents. Communication is extremely important especially if we’re going to fill in the gaps that parents can’t fill in for themselves. Toni’s experience rings true nationally. Filling in the gaps for parents creates value. Value fosters trust. And trust creates mutual respect that helps engage parents. But what’s also true is that we can’t meet the needs of parents who we don’t communicate with consistently.
As you begin to develop, strengthen, or rethink your communication systems, here are a few questions to help you:
● What effective systems do you have in place to engage diverse parents?
● What is the best way to reach your parents? Facebook? Email? What platforms do they utilize, and how will your systems evolve over time as technology and innovation progress?
● Will you allow a budget to this communication system if you find a worthwhile one? How much?
● Here’s a tough one: Are you the problem? Do you hate or dislike administration? Are you in the way of the progress of your own team and ministry?
● Are you afraid to delegate this responsibility to someone who has the time and passion to do so?
And once you’ve thought through the questions above, it’s time to get practical and create solutions. Here are a couple of ideas from Toni Collier, Nick Cowan (the High School and Middle School Pastor at The Avenue Church in Waxahachie, Texas), and Jasmine Edwards (the Middle School Pastor at The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas) on what they’ve done to communicate to parents effectively:
● Parent Distribution Lists: This is for your emails and text messages. And please don’t make your e-mails look like novels for parents to read. The reality is—they won’t. Make sure you’re providing them what they need to know in bite-size but helpful pieces.
● Parent Handouts: You could have a plan to give these out directly to the parents after service, or you might even think about creating a “Parent Resources Wall” that allows parents to look through all the information you have to offer to help them and they can choose what helps them the most in that season
● Parent Meet-and-Greet: If you have small group leaders in place, make sure you’re providing a time for SGLs to meet the Parents or Guardians of the kids or students they are serving. Maybe it’s a breakfast or maybe it’s just an additional ten minutes after service during pick up to connect over coffee.
● Parent Coffee Talks: Create opportunities to relay information with a personal touch. It doesn’t have to be over coffee. It could be after pick-up or hanging out at their kid’s football game. If you need a signature, deliver the paperwork personally and make a connection with each parent.
Having a communication strategy to reach all parents is vital for the success of your ministry, if you’re still not sure where to start, we invite you to start a free trial of Weekly. Weekly specializes in communication. They provide everything you need to effectively reach parents each week. Learn more and sign up for your free trial now.