The last few decades have shown us that an important element to youth ministry includes ministry to parents. Data combined with life experiences repeatedly show that the amount of time families spend together and the influence they have on one another far outweighs the time and influence we have with students in our ministries. Because of this, we have included parent newsletters and emails, informational meetings, and training as part of our ministry rhythms.
But what happens when we suddenly switch to social distancing ministry? Instagram and Facebook Lives and Zoom Youth Groups are consuming so much of our time as we learn new ways to connect with students. In the midst of this COVID-19 season, let’s not forget the parents!
Communication is always a good first step.
- Inform parents of your digital schedule. Include when and where you are virtually meeting and how you are connecting with students.
- Include topics that you are covering so parents can continue the conversation. You may want to include discussion questions for the dinner table.
- Be sure to communicate plans moving forward as stay at home orders are lifted and you adjust to new normal schedules in youth ministry.
- Reminders are always helpful, especially now. With so much change it can be hard to keep track of the days and the virtual events happening each day.
Partnering with parents is a win-win for families and your ministry. Parenting is hard in general, let alone adapting to parenting in a pandemic, and chances are most of your student’s parents have not been involved in youth ministry before. Now’s the time to help them out.
- Equip parents with the latest information about teenagers and culture. There is lots of information out there, find ways to get resources to parents without flooding their inboxes or overwhelming them.
- Include a resource section with links in your next email or add a parent resource section to your website. Find ways to provide quality resources to parents (some of our favorite resources are Fuller Youth Institute, Axis, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, and Youth Specialties).
It is easy to push information and content to parents, but don’t stop there! Relational ministry to parents should be two-sided. Even during social distancing, find ways to build relationships with parents.
- Host a Zoom for parents to get feedback on your virtual programming and allow a place for parents to discuss life, tips, and struggles together. You could include an opportunity for dialogue about the resources you have provided. Find out their needs and how you can pray for them.
- Send snail mail, emails, text messages, or even a phone call to parents letting them know what you appreciate about their student and family. You could include encouragement and scripture.
- Pray for parents and families. Written and verbal prayer can be such a source of encouragement and strength. Incorporate prayer into any connection you have with families.
- Mail or deliver care packages for parents or the entire family.
- Plan activities, games, or competitions for the entire family. Be creative! Send a supply list or supplies can be mailed or dropped off ahead of time. Follow up by leaving prizes on the front porch. You might want to cut out some of the gross food games that are typically played in youth group, but I think we will find students are not the only ones who want to have some fun and play games during this time of quarantine!
Youth ministries all over the world are doing such a great job adapting to the confines of social distancing. Most of what we do in youth ministry can be tweaked to minister to the whole family, even parents. So during this time of COVID-19, let’s make sure we don’t forget the parents!