Perhaps the biggest mistake that I see from new youth workers is an intense and well-intentioned focus on students that becomes so consuming, we forget that we have another audience that’s just as important and probably even more influential:
And while a thriving youth ministry that’s beloved by teenagers is the most solid way to make parents like what you’re doing, there are also a lot of other things that you might not be doing.
If you want to give parents a sense of security about your ministry, keep their trust, and gain their support, you’ve got to make sure you’re thinking about the messages you send to parents…
…whether you mean them or not.
I learned this lesson the hard way as a young youth minister.
I wasn’t dangerous, reckless, irresponsible, or immature. But as a 20-year-old college junior (who honestly looked like a 16-year-old high school sophomore), I didn’t do as much as I should have to assure parents that the youth minister was truly in control.
FOUR THINGS YOU’VE GOT TO DO TO WIN OVER PARENTS
1. Write like a professional.
I know, this isn’t a Kingdom issue. But if you’re regularly sending emails or letters with glaring spelling and grammatical errors, you’re not doing yourself any favors. It’s not about looking dumb. It’s about looking like you pay attention to details.
Because someday, that detail might be the epi-pen that you’re supposed to carry at all times.
2. Clean your stuff up.
A youth ministry friend used to have a notoriously messy office. No big deal, right? It’s his space, and it’s not like that’s one of the Ten Commandments anyway.
But when he’d lose mission trip payments and background check information (with personally identifying information), it became a serious problem.
It’s not fair, but if you’re young, expect messiness to be used as a mark against your maturity and get out in front of it.
3. Cut the pranks.
I’m a firm believer that youth ministers shouldn’t be in the prank business, but if you’re young, it’s especially important. Young youth workers often complaint that they’re viewed by adults as merely overgrown teenagers. Sometimes that’s because we act like overgrown teenagers.
If you’re trying to win over parents, it’s always better to err on the side of cautious (and boring) then potentially reckless (and exciting).
4. Be careful with social media.
Younger youth workers are often still in college or right out of college. You don’t need to suddenly start living the life of a 36-year-old soccer mom just because you’re in a mature job now.
But if your Facebook only includes hundreds of pictures of you shirtless with your chest painted at a football game, parents will have difficulty seeing you as a mature, responsible adult when you want them to see you that way.
It’s so important for youth workers to establish a core trust base with parents.
It’s difficult for young youth workers to do that. So make sure you think like a parent, how you’d view yourself in their shoes, and whether or not you’re conveying the idea that you are a rational, reasonable, and responsible adult.
Because if you’re not, that becomes the very next thing you should address.
Liked this blog post? Then be sure to check out this one:
Aaron Helman is on a mission to end youth worker burnout by providing the training and resources that you haven’t been taught… until now. Smarter Youth Ministry exists to help you learn how to manage their time and resources better so that you can do more ministry with less frustration. All of that having been said, you most likely know him as the creator of “Lamentation or Taylor Swift Lyric.”