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Four keys to a quality parent ministry

Youth pastors, consider these four ways to minister to the parents of your students.

It can be easy in student ministry to consider parents an obstacle - too often they can seem overprotective, out of touch, and too conservative. As a parent, I plead guilty to all of the above. It is hard to trust my children to someone else's care. But as you show that you really care about my kids and as you show me that you are as interested as I am in protecting them physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually, I will be more willing to trust you. Safety is a huge issue for parents today and ministry to them can build trust.

Quality parent ministry involves several facets. Consider these four "C"s in looking for ways to minister to the parents of your students:

Counseling is listening. I know we don't call it that, but parents are making their way in the same busy world as you and me. They need to know if their teen is "normal" or how to interpret certain behaviors. They know that you see many teenagers and sometimes they just need a little advice.

Calendaring has to do with checking on school schedules, sports schedules, holiday schedules, and if possible, family as you put the youth ministry calendar together. It helps parents if you have a light week during midterm exams (how about a study hall on Wednesday night?). It also helps parents if you understand that it is difficult for working parents to get their students to church for a 4:00 p.m. Friday departure for the youth retreat.

Communicating is easier than it has ever been. E-mail updates, web pages that are kept current (a seventh grader can do this for you), answering machines with current event information - all are ways you can keep parents up-to-date on activities. Monthly calendars are also great reminders for families to use to stay current on important student ministry events and ministries.

Connecting means that parents appreciate resources. If you come across a helpful article, send it to them or post the link into an e-mail. If you hear of a seminar or speaker in town, let parents know. Connecting may also involve support ministry to parents in crisis situations such as grief, divorce, substance abuse, or emotional problems. Referral to helping agencies, counselors, or support groups can be a lifesaver.

The bottom line is to make an effort to include parents of teens in your ministry plan. To leave parents out of your ministry plan is to fail to minister to the students you were called to serve.