If you didn’t read DAY 1 or DAY 2 posts on being more family-friendly, you can obviously go back to those posts, but here’s the first six ideas that I presented. 

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.

  • http://www.Nikomas.com Nikomas

    great posts! Recently, one that I’ve noticed more and more is that going to watch a student’s game is just as much about visiting with his/her parent (if not more). During those conversations I get to brag about their kid’s talent and let them know how much I appreciate their teen.

  • DrewE

    This is a fine list already.

    Here’s a couple of further suggestions:

    Coordinate schedules between ministries — If your junior high ministry runs from 6 to 8 and your senior high ministry from 7 to 9, a parent with kids in both will probably be making lots of trips back and forth.

    Pray for em — which I hope is obvious, but worth reiterating nonetheless.

    • http://www.dougfields.com Doug Fields

      good…and let them know you’re praying for them too.

  • Michael

    Thanks Doug,

    These have been very helpful. What are some of the ways you communicated with parents and families?

    • doug

      Mostly via email on a monthly basis (ie. newsletter)…weekly for those who sign up (give them follow up questions to talk about at home).

  • http://www.seventy8productions.com/ Jeremy Smith

    I used this whole series for my volunteers as we cast the vision for more family involvement for the next 16 months.

    • doug

      good to hear! I hope it was helpful.

  • http://joshpezold.com Josh Pezold

    Love what your saying and have a lot of families where they SHOULD be home more and would benefit from being more involved in the ministry. Question, how does family ministry work when their home environment is horrible? How do you promote time with family when the adults neglect their child and bringing that parent to the youth gathering might not be best for the rest of the students around.

    Additional Thought: Young youth minister who isn’t a parent yet… what if you had a parent seminar like you said, but the parents are the ones teaching each other? or what about a Support Blog for parents on your website where they can learn from one another?
    Thanks for what you do!!!