This week my inbox continues to receive a handful of the same looking emails… and they are all from my small group leaders. It could be surprising, but it’s not, I planned for this to happen.
Partnering with parents can sometimes feel unreachable, but it’s just like anything else we do, if it seems unreachable perhaps we haven’t reached for it yet. I focus my small group strategy by always training with a weekly WIN for my small group leaders. When they walk in the door for the leaders meeting they see the WIN on the board and the WIN was emailed to them earlier in the week. I make sure my WIN(s) revolve around the subjects found in the book Lead Small. This ensures I don’t forget anything that could reinforce our strategy when training and equipping leaders.
This year the bulk of my WINs will revolve around partnering with parents. If you don’t know why that’s important or how critical it can be, perhaps I can convince you. A mom of high school student recently said to me, “You know what I thought was amazing this year in student ministry?!” My ears perked up, “What?” I was eager to hear about an experience her child had at winter camp or a mission trip they had gone on.
“Almost every week I got an e-mail from my son’s small group leader updating me on what they had learned, gave some small group updates AND it was consistent. As a parent I felt like I knew what was going on.”
As the youth pastor I didn’t really didn’t see that one coming, I knew it was rare if any of my leaders followed up with parents like this. If this parent concluded that they thought this was amazing why in the world would I not want this for every parent in my ministry?!
This last week’s WIN for my small group leaders was extremely simple… “Connect with the parents of your students through a drafted e-mail.”
Being a former small group leader, I’ve connected with many parents on a variety of levels and I do know how hard it can be just to put forth the effort to go beyond connecting with students. So, I put forth some of the effort for them to lead the way for my small group leaders.
- I drafted an email as if I were the small group leader.
- I then attached the roster including the contact information for all the parents.
- I gave them a deadline, one week to send out the email to the parents.
- I asked them to CC me on the email so I could see that they sent it.
I put the tools needed in the hands of my SGL’s so they could connect with the parents… and they did, even though I wrote the e-mail the parents will never know! Although not all of my leaders followed through yet, many of them did. I explained to my leaders that it’s not because I (the youth pastor) don’t want to e-mail the parents, it just simply means more to the parent coming from the SGL who is actually in the life of the student every week. It’s been a really cool thing seeing my leaders reach out to parents and then seeing parents respond. The more we can connect our leaders to our parents the more influential our ministry will be.
Here’s a sample of email I drafted for my leaders. I know many of you already do stuff like this but please feel free to “borrow” this and make it your own!
Mom & Dad,
I’m ____________ your child’s small group leader. Each week I have the privilege of leading their small group time which involves discussing the message, asking challenging questions and encouraging them in their faith journey. I wanted to take a quick moment to reach out and mention what we are learning in small groups and see how I might be able to pray for you and your family.
This week we began a series called “ALL IN”. We talked a lot about serving opportunities and the “all-in” moments God calls us into. Whether it be a peer at school, a homeless person, someone in the family, or weekly serving at church… we believe that God gives us numerous opportunities to serve someone else by going “ALL IN”. Consider talking to your child or even partnering with them or encouraging them in ways they can serve those around them.
Finally, but most importantly, please understand that I’m here for you. I may see your child every week and perhaps we’ve never met but I want to be here for your family both when things are great but also when things are tough. I want to honor you the parent and help bridge the church to the home. If you need anything or just want to talk about the faith journey of your child I’d love to make myself available to phone calls or even perhaps meeting you for coffee. How can I be praying for you as a parent? How can I be praying for your family?
Thanks for taking the time to read, looking forward to hearing from you soon! Have a great week.
If some of your student’s parents read your blog I can imagine a day when they might become aware that you wrote the email. 😉
…anyway, that was actually very good idea. I’m going to incorporate some of those ideas in the near future.
Chris Parker says
Yup. You were right! 🙂 I just got this email from a parent, regardless I think they were happy about it!
Just wanted to say thanks for having youth leaders email parents. That is the first time I ever remember having that happen in our years of middle and high school youth group.