In order to meet the needs of parents and families, a youth ministry program should embrace four basic elements: inform, equip, involve, and encourage. First, parents need to stay informed of events, teaching topics, and other things pertinent to the youth ministry program. Communicating with parents about the current teaching series is a way to equip and encourage parents to dialogue with their teens about faith.
Equipping also includes sharing resources about adolescence, development, family, and current trends in culture. Parent newsletters, seminars, one-‐on-‐one meetings, and connecting parents with each other are great ways to help parents and the church family navigate the wholistic development of their teenagers. The ministry should also provide opportunities for families to spend time together through corporate worship, family dinner nights, and intergenerational community events.
Next, involving parents in the ministry can be a significant way to meet the needs of the family. Depending on the students and the uniqueness of families, parents may be involved in leading teen small groups, serving administratively, or being part of a parent advisory team.
Finally, in all things, parents need to be encouraged. Parents deal with many battles and trials, especially when raising teenagers and trying to remain faithful in discipling their children. Making quick phone calls or sending brief emails of encouragement communicates that they truly matter.
(My ministry to parents of youth has been influenced by Dr. Jim Burns, my “Intro to Youth and Family Ministry” class at Azusa Pacific Graduate School of Theology and Mark DeVries’ book Family-Based Youth Ministry.)