This past summer a high schooler was invited to our summer camp and midweek placed his faith in Christ. This young man’s life was radically changed as a result, friends, lifestyle, extra-curriculars, everything changed. He committed to our group and became a fixture and desires to be in leadership in the future. A month ago we hosted a parent night, and his parents came, they did not attend church. The parents were so grateful for us hosting a night that gave them a look at what we do and an opportunity to meet our student leadership. This past Sunday at church, the mom placed her faith in Christ at the end of our worship service. This is one example of many, of seeing the Lord use our students to open the door to sharing the gospel with parents. Engaging parents is Kingdom business.
Given current culture trends, if we can reach the kids we can reach the home. The average home/family today, is driven by the children. From sports, to friends, to interests, the home’s schedule is built around the children in the home. So when we are engaging the kids or teens in the home we really have the ability to engage the entire home. As student ministers we have an opportunity to leverage this influence for the gospel. We also have access to the home as student ministers that very few other “ministers” will have access to.
Food! I say food because if you can build your even around a meal and then provide that meal, you are adding extra incentive as well as taking “one more thing to do” off each parents to do list. In a busy world, where time is our greatest resource redeem the time by not asking families to sacrifice to be there. Oh yeah… make the meal FREE, every parent appreciates a free meal for their family. I believe this is worth fighting for even if your budget is small to nothing.
Students! The students need to be there, they need to pray and worship and sit under teaching with their parents. We divided the room in half by drawing a line down the middle and started the night by having students and parents on separate sides, only to bring them together during the invitation.
Adult Leadership! One of the best benefits was having our adult leadership (small group leaders, youth workers, etc..) there to connect with parents. This brings legitimacy to your ministry, if these adults will follow you, it will show you others you are worth following. Also for me, I have set up my leadership with lots of leaders who either have or have had high schoolers. This connection and type of leader meant a lot to our parents.
The best way to get started with reaching out to parents is just making connections. I weekly put out a student ministry newsletter to parents; it contains dates, times and ministry info, and also contains what we are teaching as well as notes from messages each week in the first half of the e-newsletter. The second-half of the e-newsletter is for parents, I usually link articles on parenting and cultural issues related to teenagers and parents. I also frequently write a few paragraphs to parents, encouraging them to pour into their teen’s life. I have seen this e-newsletter become a front door for parents of our students, so when we do invite them to something they are not walking in totally blind but feel like they at least know a little about the ministry and what we do. One of the best ways to make connections is to simply break down barriers.
Engaging parents is Kingdom business!
Joshua Glymph is the High School Pastor at Fruit Cove Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He is a 13-year ministry veteran, the husband to Beth, Daddy to Hannah, Micah, and Ezra, and a football loving, UGA fan. You can find him on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM @jglymph1 or at WWW.JOSHGLYMPH.COM and JOSH@FRUITCOVE.COM.