The Parent Puzzle

Utilizing parents in your middle school ministry can be a puzzle. So many pieces need to fit in place: Where do they serve? Do we let them minister alongside their kids? What if their child doesn't want them there? What if their child clings to them?

IMHO, developing a healthy team of parents to serve on your ministry team requires next-level leadership; leadership that takes a lot of work...leadership that lots of youth pastors are unwilling, or unable, to rise to. As a result, it seems like way too many junior high ministries are missing out on a gold mine of potential.

Here are a few thoughts on how to make the most of the parent puzzle:

1) Talk to the student first. How does he/she feel about mom or dad joining your volunteer team? How (or if) you plug the parent into your ministry should usually reflect what you hear from their child.

2) View every parent as a 'case-by-case' situation. I would avoid rules such as "no parent can be the leader of his son's small group" or "Parents are never allowed to sit next to their own kid" etc. Every parent/child relationship is different and no 'rule' applies well to them all.

3) Make sure parents want to minister to all the students in your group, not just their kid. For most, a primary motive will be to spend time with their child, but if they can't give the other students in your ministry equal time then joining your team probably isn't a good idea.

4) If you aren't the parent of a junior higher, you don't know squat! You may not like hearing that, but that's what the parents of your kids are thinking about you. Instead of working hard to prove them wrong, I suggest you admit it and do the hard work of enlisting lots of parents to join your team. I think you'll be glad you did.


markeades said...

Amen brother - thx so much for sharing these truths. I agree that we must enlist parents to be on our team. And I would echo point 4 - If you aren't a parent of a jr higher (and I am not yet, my oldest is 10) you really don't know a lot. If you are like me you must have parents or former parents of jr highers on your team. Don't have them get them!

Dave said...

Our minstry has been so blessed by parents. We have a core team of about 20 volunteers that serve our Jr/Sr high students and nearly half of those are parents. I've found that talking with both the parent and their child is critical - not just on the entrance into the program but as the year goes along.

I have to say that we have gone ahead and plugged in a parent even when their child has said "no, I don't want them there" on occasion - with the understanding that we would be giving it a test run - and it has worked out well. If you watch the relationship between the parent/child for awhile before asking the parent to be involved it gives you a good idea if it is going to work out or not. It is a balance between making space for the student to not be under the parent microscope....and allowing the parent to share their gifts at the same time.

Parents are invaluable. And I totally agree with your statement that "If you aren't the parent of a junior higher, you don't know squat!"