Countdown to a Youth Pastor's Most Important Relationship in the Church: Part 3

This will be the third installment in the conversation on a youth pastor's 4 most important relationships within the church. In the first article, I discussed that the most important relationship a youth pastor has within the church is with the pastor. In the second article I showed why the second most important relationship is with his/her adult volunteers. In this article, I'll cover the last two: Parents & Youth.

Your relationship with the pastor is first because ultimately he is the one accountable to God for the youth, parents & volunteers. Your relationship with the volunteers is second because you cannot be effective in reaching an expanding group of young people without help. Your third most important relationship is with the parents of the teenagers you are ministering (or hoping to minister) to. Parents are an often neglected beneficiary & underused benefactor of youth ministry. They are your ride-providers, pay-per-youth underwriters, & they are your senior pastor's most credible informants on how the youth ministry is doing. You would do well to consider them in everything you do as a youth pastor.

The key to a successful relationship is effective communication. Like water to a plant, effective communication is the life source of the relationship between a youth pastor and the parents. No matter how wonderful your youth program is, it cannot survive without support from the parents. Yet, how can they support something they know little or nothing about? It is necessary to sell the youth ministry vision to the parents as aggressively as you do for the youth. Otherwise, instead of the parents properly viewing the youth ministry as a necessity in supporting their child's spiritual growth, your program is relegated to the category of extra-curricular activities that the youth can do if they want to and if they deserve it.

Some tools that were effective in my ministry in communicating with the parents are:

  • Parent Meetings - with food if possible and planned during a time where the parents were already going to be at the church (i.e. before or after service, before you leave for an event, etc.)
  • State of the UthNION Letter – mailed to the entire youth ministry database, not to advertise an event or address a problem but just to be tell them what going on in the youth ministry
  • Monthly bulletin or newsletter – that lists the vision of the youth ministry and the spiritual objectives or focus that month or season
  • Invite the parents to sit in on a youth service from time to time
  • Follow-up calls – when you're calling the youth, always ask for the parent and discuss your reasons for the call and ask for permission to speak to the youth. Take this time to ask the parent for an area you can agree with them on concerning the development of their teen

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. Be creative. The most important thing is that you keep this relationship healthy by making effective communication with your parents a priority.

This article is written by Minister David John

Min. David John is Assistant Ministerial Chief of Staff for Word of Faith International Christian Center, Southfield, MI.