What are we doing to help our students form a Sticky Faith? We Partner with Parents.
Building a partnership with parents is vital to any healthy, growing ministry that cares about helping students be disciples of Christ––now and into their adulthood––and not just building or maintaining a cool program. Helping students develop a faith that sticks has to include a close partnership with parents.
I try to communicate with parents as often as I can about what we’re teaching. We get our parents to subscribe to an email list through MailChimp. Then we send updates out to them about what we’ll be teaching in the weeks to come or what we’ve just taught on. We also try to give them some ideas for conversations with their students at home about the upcoming topics or as a follow up to last week’s topic. Admittedly, this doesn’t happen as consistently as I’d like but we do our best. So I’d say this is the current edge of where we’re growing. We need to become more consistent with these communications. I think that’s about me needing to do a better job of building it into my weekly or monthly routines.
I also try to communicate with parents as often as I can, in as many ways as I can, as far in advance as I can about anything on the Student Life Calendar. We produce an annual calendar that contains all the important dates regarding our weekly meetings, big events, retreats, trips, etc. We send out a newsletter every six weeks or so, filled with pictures, reviews, and details about what’s coming.
But communication is a two way street that is built on a trusting relationship. I make myself available to parents for relationship just as much as I do for the kids. I love talking with parents in the stands at athletic games, at choir concerts, in the grocery isle, on the phone, in the hallway at church, etc. I try to make myself as approachable and as humble as possible. I want parents to feel comfortable talking with me about their families, their kids, their questions or concerns about our ministry, and so on. Furthermore, I want parents on our team of teachers and small group leaders. It’s only when I and our church have a genuine relationship with parents that our partnership can flourish as together we raise up our teens to be and become fully devoted disciples of Christ.
Support and Care
We are blessed with a Family Life Pastor who spends a lot of time with parents. In our staffing structure, I’m the Pastor of Student Life, Doug is the Pastor of Family Life (emphasis on parents), and Janna is the Child Life Director. We operate as peers on a team. The three of us have chosen to use Orange as our primary source for ministry materials. The way I see it, Orange is several years ahead of Sticky Faith. They’ve put together some great materials such as Think Orange, Playing for Keeps, Lead Small, and their curriculum XP3 (students), 252 (elementary), and First Look (preschool) all include built in parent communications.
Doug works directly with the young families of our church, providing support, coaching, and teaching for their marriages and their role as parents. He provides the class “Understanding Your Teenager” annually for parents of teens or for those who are preparing for the teenage years. He writes a weekly Family Life Blog (using WordPress) on our church website. And he’s really got this routine down. He writes out his posts and submits them to a volunteer editor who then corrects any mistakes and makes suggestions. Then he schedules each post to be published every Sunday at 6:00pm. Then he sends out a mass email to all our parents who have subscribed to our email list via MailChimp. This message contains a link to the blog post, a short two sentence announcement of the post’s topic and what they’ll gain if they read it. A number of his posts coincides with our weekly lessons but it always provides practical insights for parents as they raise up their children with a sticky faith. Doug and I also work together to provide support to families––students and parents––in a variety of other ways including team teaching, team counseling, cross-referring, etc.
What are you doing to partner with parents?