1. Give em dates
2. End on time
3. Get em talking
4. Keep em home
5. Talk em up
6. Speak good words
7. Teach em more: you shouldn’t pretend to be the authority on parenting if you haven’t been thru the parenting expedition yourself (then, even if you have, less of an authority and more a fellow-journeyman/woman). Parents often feel like failures and they’re looking for help, coaching, ideas, and “been-there” parents to share their stories. As a youth worker you can facilitate some parenting classes and/or seminars to increase their knowledge and skills. This can become an easy win for a youth worker by scheduling something like a Speaking To Teenagers Seminar.
8. Keep costs down: this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Youth workers often don’t think of costs because they’re typically not paying to attend the events. Consider leaving to camp a little later so you don’t have to pay for an extra meal at camp and/or come home before another meal (those meals add up). Think of scholarships or help for those families that have more than one teenager in the youth ministry. This is not just a “it’s a tough economy” principle…this is family-friendly during a good economy too.
9. Watch their calendar: be aware of what’s happening during a school year and the holiday calendar. Try to stay away from a lot of meetings/events during the holiday seasons when families gather/celebrate. Also, be aware of when finals are for the teenagers in your ministry and keep your activities to a minimum. Here’s an example (a bad one), this year our youth ministry held a big youth group event on the weekend right before finals. Every kid needed to study but they all wanted to attend the event too. That type of poor programming puts pressure on families to make and enforce tough decisions.
10. Invite em along: as often as possible let parents know that you want them to join some of the youth ministry activities. Let them know they’re welcome to sit-in, tag-along, and occasionally pop into different programs and events. I’m not suggesting that you encourage them to lurk and never leave their kid’s side, but make sure they feel welcome. A couple weeks ago I had some of my 9th grade boys (from my small group) over to watch UFC and I invited the dads. Only a few came, but they loved it and I had a blast doing relational youth ministry with some of the dads. I will definitely build on those relationships.
I’d really love to see youth workers become more family-friendly…I hope you’ll think deeply about these ideas.
Okay, there’s my list of 10…what did I miss? What do you agree/disagree with? Would love to engage with you…I’ll be a little to the game because I’m flying to Louisville for a Speaking To Teenagers Seminar, but I’ll comment when I get to the hotel.