Paul serves as a City Strategist for World Changers and P2 Missions. He manages logistics for projects in the Louisiana and Texas regions, helps with programming and trains our Missions and Communications Specialist summer staff position.
Scripture is pretty clear about the responsibility of parents. Read through Deuteronomy 6 and you will see what I mean. Yet, as student ministry leaders, it seems at times that if we only had to deal with the students this student ministry thing would be much easier. But I believe that ignoring parents and other adults in ministry is a grave error. I know. I did ministry that way for awhile and not only got the scars personally, but also did a disservice to many students and their families.
I have discovered that the better I serve parents, the more effective the ministry to the students. Even those parents who are not affiliated with your church, other than through the events their student attends in your ministry, deserve to be served.
Here are few things I have learned that might be helpful:
- Encourage parents to be the parents. It is easy for me to become judgmental and condescending when I see parents doing things I think are wrong. Case in point: grounding a student from attending Bible study or anything church related as a way to punish them seems a little counterproductive to me. But remember that the parent is the authority in that student’s life and not you. It is important that you support the parent even when you disagree with how the parent is handling a situation. (I’m not talking about clear instances where parents are doing something illegal or immoral. That is clearly a violation of Scripture.)
- Always let parents know that you will support the decision they make regarding their student. As a student minister, I never have all the information that a parent does. I can offer advice to that parent when asked, but it is imperative that the parent and the student know that I respect the authority the parent has in that student’s life.
- Offer to resource parents however you can. Many are not aware of the resources about which you have learned and are aware. Be sure to pass on those resources to parents. This can be done a number of different ways. For example, use parent meetings, email blasts, web pages, smoke signals, text messages, etc.
- Be available to parents. Be approachable and don’t be a know-it-all, even if you do know it all. Check your ego at the door and serve. Don’t say everything you think. Even if it is really good and will make you the winner. (It’s not a contest, after all.)
- Appreciate the parents with whom and to whom you have the opportunity to minister. Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a student or two can be harder. There is no clear, concise, fool proof parenting manual on how to handle every situation. The easy button does not exist for parents of students.
- Let parents know that you are praying for them (and then actually pray for them). My wife and I are always encouraged when people tell us they are praying for us. This was especially true when our daughters were teenagers.
- Remember that you can be wrong. This is a hard pill for me to swallow, but when you are wrong, admit it. Ask for forgiveness and be careful not to be a repeat offender of that mistake.