Like it or not Fall is upon us. The weather might still be warm (alright boiling hot for some of us) and the sun thankfully is still setting well into the evening. Weekends can still be spent at the beach or cooking out. Yet, the corner has been turned and schools are starting to open. Three weeks ago a friend of mine posted a picture of their children’s first day as my students were still leaving for camp.
Our eyes now must turn from all the memories of summer and we have to look to the coming year. The ideas you have been jotting down on paper for several months now have to become actual plans. Calendars are pulled out and firm decisions have to be made. It’s so easy to just sit down all by our lonesome and come up with the vision for the future. It’s much quicker to present a plan than to collaborate with others.
Alright, so maybe you have a volunteer team or student leadership that you invite to brainstorm. They are equally invested in the ministry. What about the parents? How much say do you allow them to have with what is coming this school year? Do you tell them what you are doing or do you have something that includes students, your team AND parents to help with Fall planning?
Think about it:
They Give Permission:
So often we come to parents with an idea when it has been formulated into the plan. We give times and dates, and hold a meeting to disseminate information. Yet, parents are the ones with the final right to yes or no. It frustrates us when they don’t get on board with our direction. What if we brought them in before everything is set in stone and ask their opinion or even better let them brainstorm new concepts all together?
They Hold The Keys:
Only your older students even have the ability to drive and then a small fraction have the chance to own or even borrow a vehicle. In a practical sense parents not only give permission they are the ones driving their kids around, and watching their schedules. Sometimes your great scheme becomes one more thing to do and you miss out on hearing an alternate date and time that WOULD work and then you are mad their child isn’t there.
They Own the Pocketbook:
Parents are the ones you have to rely on for some form of funding for most of your bigger ticket items. When you announce a Fall retreat or concert then they have to think where the money is going to come from. Ever notice that some of your students don’t attend these things? Most parents won’t admit they don’t have the money to send their kids.
They Provide Value:
When you invite parents into the process it produces something very valuable: Ownership!
Have you seen what happens when students take ownership of the ministry? Things go deeper and farther. A similar thing happens when parents feel like they have ownership in the ministry. They want to work with you. Remember you don’t have to give the ministry away just because you invite them to collaborate with you. You are allowed to ask: “Choice A or Choice B?” Yes, someone will say, “What about C?” Then you gently say, “A or B is what we have.” Take that parent aside and let them know why C can’t happen right now. You don’t have to go with EVERY suggestion a parent makes. However, there isn’t a study out there that doesn’t tell us that parents are the primary influencer in every area of a child’s life. It follows then that they know some things about their child and their home situation that the student has never shared. When they believe a thought or plan came from being heard I’ll bet you get them onboard a little faster, then your students get more involved. I’ll bet your parents might even have some solutions and creative things you have never thought of.
Remember: Telling a parent information is not partnering with them. That’s talking at them. In a day and age where kids are over-involved, let’s invite parents to help them stay connected at youth group. When they take ownership they will make sure youth ministry becomes part of their “to do” list.
What are some creative ways you can include parents in coming up with plans this Fall?