Get Caught In the Parent Trap

POSTED: January 8, 2014
By Nick Tomeo, CCU Youth Ministry Professor.

We’ve heard it before: family ministry is where it’s at; you should team up with parents and develop a family friendly youth ministry.

This is easier said than done. Making student ministry more family friendly is many times difficult. Still, one element of “family friendly” youth ministry is obtainable: parental involvement.

So how can you get parents more involved in your ministry? Perhaps the secular world can offer some guidance.

In a 2005 study conducted by Deslandes and Bertrand, researchers attempted to determine what motivated parents to get involved with their children’s school activities. After studying almost 800 parents of adolescents, they discovered that parents became more involved in their teenagers’ school work if a) their child invited them to get involved, b) if the parents felt they could be helpful in the process, and c) if the teacher invited them to get involved.

Applying these results to youth ministry would compel the wise youth minister to:

1. Try to involve the parents
See if the parents of your students would allow a youth group activity at their house. Ask parents to help out with the food at your events. Another simple idea for encouraging parental involvement: send a thoughtful question home with students for next week’s lesson. For example, if the next session is a lesson on dating, have the students interview their parents to discover how they met. Students could then bring the answers back to youth group the following week.

2. Develop Parent-Student Events
Create events where students and parents can interact together. The key is to aggressively invite the parents and to encourage the students to do likewise.

3. Communicate Freely

Tell them everything: youth ministry events, their child’s successes, facts about adolescent development, and cultural trends.

While there are many other things one can do to promote a family enriched youth ministry, parent involvement is a critical key to a “family friendly” youth ministry.For more information on “Family Friendly Youth Ministry,” attend the Youth Ministry Summit and hear Mark Devries speak on the issue.

Deslandes, Rollande & Bertrand, Richard. (2005). Motivation of Parent Involvement in Secondary-Level Schooling. The Journal of Educational Research 98(3), 164-175.