All of us have students in our ministry whose parents don’t attend our church. It takes a little more forethought than usual, but we CAN connect with those parents and begin to build relationships with them!!
1. Get in the parking lot after Bible study. If parents are picking their kids up after Bible study, it’s prime time to start with a wave and end by hanging your head in the window with a well placed compliment about their kid! Always have a flyer or something tangible to hand them (I find cookies are always a winner!) — it forces them to roll down the window. If it’s bad weather, escort their kid under an umbrella…you get like triple points for that! (Even though it probably feels like senior adult ministry.)
2. Friend them on social media. Whether you do that through your personal page or your student ministry page, they have a window to you and vice versa. Create a calendar note to remind you to drop them a personal line occasionally so it’s not just creeping…or another faceless, nameless person you don’t really know or have any connection with.
3. Utilize the ‘required parent meeting’ to your advantage. I do a few things – a) I always decide on a ‘target’ before the meeting – one or two unchurched parents I want to engage in a conversation if at all possible. Occasionally that gets sidetracked by questions, people, fire alarms (that’s another story for another day), but I can usually get in a few good conversations, and b) if I can NOT speak from the stage, I don’t. I roam the theater using a headset mic and intentionally stop at tables (or sections) where there are parents I want to build community with.
4. Food. Hello?? It’s the Christian way. Invite them for dinner, dessert, sushi, Starbucks, a viewing of the premier of The Next Iron Chef. If you cook it, they will come.
5. Be present in a crisis. If you hear Great Uncle George passed away six states away…even though the family doesn’t seem too broken up about it and aren’t going to the funeral – send a condolence card. And if trouble really hits home – be the first person on their porch. (Yes, they may turn you away and it may seem awkward, but it will not be forgotten.)
…five more tips coming on Thursday – but what do YOU do to build connections with unchurched parents?
5 thoughts on “Creating Unchurched Parent Connections in Youth Ministry”
Love this. #5 is huge. It is amazing the response to parents when you are there for their child (and the family) during something big. It breaks down huge walls. Great stuff. Cant wait for the other 5.
I don’t know many youth pastors that actually own umbrellas. haha. But great advice.
Broaden your horizons, Chris!! :)
I’d add one more: sporting events/drama events/etc. I’ve met tons of parents who have students in our youth ministry but who don’t go to church by going to their kids’ events. Often times, I’ll make a point of “stalking” them on Facebook so I know what they look like before I go if I’ve never met them. It’s such a great venue to get to know who they are.
No doubt, Benjer! Because I am entirely non-athletic, that’s the only reason I attend sporting events!!