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If we are not careful it is easy for a wall to develop between parents and youth leaders. It is important that we do everything we can to build a strong healthy relationship with the parents of the teenagers we are privileged to work with. Sure the teenagers want a leader who is wild, fun, and is not afraid to pull off crazy events.

But that is not what the parents want. Bottom line, parents can make or break your youth services and events depending on how secure they feel entrusting their child into your hands.

When a parent drops off their teenager, I believe as youth pastors we have just assumed temporary custody of their child. It is now our job and responsibility to protect, nurture, train, and watch out for their best interest as if they were our own child.

My wife's theory is, "If I wouldn't want that person as a counselor for my child, then why would I put your child in a cabin with them?" Below are some tips to help you connect with parents and receive high approval ratings.
  1. You must think, act, respond, and protect like a parent. If you are not personally a parent, make sure you have parents on your leadership team and present at every event.
  2. Win parents' favor by thinking of their concerns before they do.
  3. The more information you give them about an activity or event, the more peace of mind they will have. Many parents will not allow their teen to participate because they do not have enough information. Remember, the basis of fear is the "unknown."
  4. Do not communicate to the parents through the teenager. You send a flyer home and think mom and dad know everything...wrong! Johnny never gave it to them.
  5. Give parents at least 4-6 months notice for events and activities that cost over $50 (Camp, retreat, missions trip, ski trip, conferences, etc). Many times we wonder why more kids didn't come? Typically it is finances. How many of you have a spare $175.00 you could give up right now? Or how about $350.00 when you have two kids who want to go.
  6. Never allow teenagers to drive on any church function. Most of the time I didn't even allow my college students to drive. I rely upon the older, more experienced adult drivers. The bigger the vehicle the better. Vans are better than cars, buses are better than vans (unless you had a junker like mine in Dallas). I believe the fewer vehicles I have on the road, the less likely the risk of an accident. When I have 3 vans versus one bus, I have tripled the potential for an accident. And that is not a negative confession, it is a fact!
  7. Be organized. Lack of organization conveys a lack of concern which conveys a careless attitude toward the teenagers.
  8. Mail a bi-monthly update of topics taught, teaching subjects coming up, testimonies, upcoming events, parenting nuggets, and parenting book reviews.
  9. Send out a cassette once or twice a year of a youth message to the parents. Let them know you are a minister and not an activity director. This is a great outreach to non-churched parents and I found it increased my youth attendance. Why? The parents liked what they heard and wanted their teenager to get more of it.

    Dean Hawk Ministries
    All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Dean Hawk
Web site: The Rock Family Church
Dean is the founding pastor of Rock. He has been married to his wife, Kim, since 1983 and they have three adult children; Alesha, Allyson and Preston. Since 1981 Dean has served in the full time ministry. Prior to starting the church in 2004 he served as a Youth and Associate Pastor in three different churches. Along with his current pastoral duties Dean is also an adjunct professor at Charis Bible College in Woodland Park.

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